Dan74 wrote:I think early on Robert made a disparaging remark about focusing on the here and now
Just to address this point: not sure what I said but maybe my point was that simply focussing on some object may not be as 'here and now' as we think.
According the ancient Commentaries in the time it takes for a flash of lightening billions of moments of mind have risen and completly fallen away: in essence when we try to catch a moment it has long gone.
This has implications for the way we see 'practice'.
My lifestyle is such that I months every year in diffrent countries, often living out of hotels. Much of the time I am alone but honestly I dont see the time alones being more special- Dhammawise- than the time i am with my wife or friends.
The elements, dhatus, realities are continually arising and passing away: and from my perspective whether they are ones with dosa(aversion) , lobha, (greed) or metta or whatever aren't more special than any other moment. They simply arise and pass away.
Sure, sitting in economy class for 10 hour stretches can condition more moments of impatience, but sometimes it conditions moments of patience that replace those moments. Anyway whatever state "MY" mind is in is of not much more concern than the current weather. That doesn't mean there is no awareness of mindstates: it means I know/feel/trust that there is no MIND as such, there are only elements that arise and pass away: I have as much wish to try to stop them or change them or bring them on than I would to change the weather. They are not me or mine.
Sometimes I read something by meditators that brings on a sense of compassion and wish to help. In fact it was this that started the topic and a related topic when I read about someone disturbed by what he thought having mindfulness meant(see first post). Satisampajanna is always accepting and never the least bit onerous or tiring. On this path the older one gets the younger you feel!
Yesterday I was struck again by a wish to help but really didnt have the words: anyway someone had been on a retreat and left early and now felt upset
With 1 more day to go. Once on the road I realized my mistake, and now I feel completely depressed and angry at myself for not finishing the course (a common theme in my life is getting distracted by fun, to a point where it's out of balance). I don't know what to turn to, s
I wanted to say to him that there is no 'mind' , that there are ony elements, that the fact that they are not behaving as you want them to is their nature, they are uncontrollable. I didn't because I think without a basis in the teachings of the Buddha he might not want to hear this.
But anyone who can understand this will see that their life has become deeply content and that they feel confident to face and accept anything in life, no matter how unwelcome it might be. This is because the moment is always exactly as it should be , as it was conditioned to be. And that means when lobha, even lust, or dosa, even anger, arise that they do not need to be shunned. They can be understood right at that moment, whether talking to our wife, eating a tuna sandwich, sitting in economy, or sitting in lotus position in the jungle.
So the way of vipassana is not the same as the way of samatha, it is seeing things as they are. And that means here and now, even right now as I drink my morning coffee in Costa Coffee shop with Justin Bieber playing in the background.
Thank you for sharing a little about your practice.
I am neither equipped nor qualified to make any judgments from what you've shared though I do admire your good humour and equanimity in the face of the auditory onslaught by Justin Bieber!
All I can say is that to be truly equanimous in the face of the most difficult situations and slice at them with vipassana requires a great deal of practice from most people. Now you may have arrived at this point through study and contemplation of the teachings. Others may have done some serious cushion work on the basis of study where spaciousness and clarity are cultivated which can then be applied in the most demanding of life situations.
I know that many practitioners arrive at a place where practice seems to proceed effortlessly and they arrive at it from different directions. This place is usually impermanent and more often than not people backslide.
The danger of practice which is not rooted in deep mental cultivation that is usually had during long retreats, IMO, is that it is superficial and does not withstand strong blows. It is easy to feel that the practice is on track, easy to be a nice enough guy, untroubled and often moved to kindness, when life is relatively trouble-free and settled. But when you are suddenly afflicted by chronic pain, you loved ones seem to turn on you, your job is gone, your routine is upset, the clinging that hitherto was subtle and invisible becomes manifest.
Retro said that " if there is Wrong View, no amount of sitting will change that until Wrong View becomes Right View" and one can similarly substitute "study" instead of "sitting", though I would not agree, but say "it depends". Sitting can reveal wrong view and study can expose it, while sitting can perpetuate it as study can. In relation to Soto I sat with two teachers from the same lineage whose insight into the Dhamma was light years apart. Now they both drank from the same well, but the results were very different.
The Linchi quote is a great one. There is also an exchange related to some of the things you share that briefly goes as follows:
A monks asked a master: "What to do when the six thieves are laying siege to the house?"
The master replied: "They are members of one's own family!"
Such recognition as well as the Linchi's admonition are wonderful reminders that practice is not something special, including sitting practice. I sit on the cushion where there is not an effort to gain, nor fear of losing. There is a meeting of what is, a gesture of respect to Shakyamuni who sat under the Bodhi tree all those centuries ago, a recognition that I am not an arahat able to meet every situation with equanimity and wisdom and to investigate the clinging that blocks this. I don't see it as an artificial practice, an unnecessary practice, but the most useful thing I've ever done. Because it isn't special, it isn't anything realy. It's like taking the road home, kinda familiar and yet we stray at every opportunity!
I've done a fair bit of study especially for a Zennie, but to tell you the truth it has not brought me much beyond the few words of instruction I got from my teacher early on. From my perspective there is not much that is needed for the Right View in order to be able to practice and even less that can be understood before some investigation into the workings of the mind. Like you say - "not me, not mine." Whatever arises - don't attach to it, it comes and it goes, attend closely. What I find in study is inspiration to redouble my efforts and practice harder. This is valuable. The rest mostly satisfies intellectual curiosity and allays anxiety about some issue or point of uncertainly.
It is an incredible thing how different people are and I marvel that your group is able to find so much sustenance in the study and contemplation of the teachings without the need to meditate. I hope that your insights are genuine and deep and you will spread wisdom and compassion around you wherever you go.