03 Apr 2007 |
Posted by Lama Surya Das | 1 Comment.
Impeccable mindful awareness is the last part of the triad of the meditation training portion of the eight-fold path. Mindfulness means simply being aware and alert with total presence of mind, rather than being absent-minded, mindless, distracted, and inattentive to what we’re doing and who we are. There’s nothing very mysterious about this.
In the ultimate sense life is utterly mysterious, of course, but we don’t have to mystify it and make it into something we cannot understand, like theological concepts of hosts of angels dancing on the head of a pin, speculative arguments about God’s existence or any kind of exotic mumbo-jumbo. We must endeavor to be conscious, rather than unconscious; present, rather than absent.
There is an amusing debate going on now in Buddhist circles about whether a Buddhist meditator is to be more and more absent, or more and more present; only those present will get to vote, yet early Buddhist commentators are betting that those absent will win. The more we empty ourselves of our preoccupations and selfishness, the more present we may become, curiously enough. The less full of ourselves we are, the more truth — or God, for that matter, and even true love — might show up. Those who lose themselves will find themselves, as the mystics say. There‚s actually a little mysticism everywhere if you look.
Regarding this impeccable awareness or mindfulness, the historical teacher Gotama Buddha said in his original teachings: “In hearing there is just hearing. No one hearing and nothing heard. In seeing there is just seeing” and so forth. There is just the incandescent, iridescently shimmering, indescribably moment, inconceivable and yet undeniable–-like the gorgeous beauty of a desert sunset or the starry night sky. And yet, as soon as we feel the need to try and make it into something: “Oh, it’s a beautiful night, I think I’ll write a poem about it.” Or, “Ugh, traffic noise––it’s horrible!” That’s the second and third and twentieth moment of discursive chains of thought, not to freshness of momentary, spontaneous awareness itself, the natural state, the Buddha Mind. In the first fresh instant, which is like the dawn of creation, there‚s just hearing, just seeing–-long before conceptual imputation and subjective, karmically conditioned likes and dislikes enter the picture and start driving us here and there. In seeing, there is just seeing; no one seeing, and nothing seen.
“Me and mine”, “you and yours” are mere thoughts, mental clouds. When you have a lot of thoughts bundled and woven together, it becomes a whole ball of wax: dense, heavy, unwieldy, important seeming; and thus we start living too much in our head and through our concepts. But it all just begins with that first, single, unbound, fresh thought or experience. If we can just stay with that first moment, just the thought or feeling, physical sensation or perception; when we try to be present before the proliferating popcorn stream of “Who’s thinking?” or “why am I always thinking?” or “damn thoughts, when are they going to stop so I can concentrate?” Before those concepts, upstream from all that mentation, there’s just a flashing, incandescent, indescribably delicious and freshly wakeful moment. That’s the dawn of creation, in every moment–in this very moment, too. Nothing has happened yet. Samsara has not yet seceded from Nirvana. The war of dualism has not yet begun. You are there!
Impeccable awareness, total presence, is imperturbable as a mountain, unchanging as the ocean amidst all of its different, superficial changes, for it never leaves its broad and inclusive bed. Unmoved, yet totally reflecting clearly whatever appears in it, like a mirror: whether it’s faced with lovely gold or a wet paint brush even, reflections simply don’t stick. Totally at ease, at home in every situation, one with all and everything without clinging or misconception – that’s impeccable awareness, with a little Dzogchen non-dualism to spice it up. That’s view, meditation, action, and fruition, according to the Vajrayana pith-instruction tradition. Like a mountain, like an ocean, like a mirror, and at home, always.
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