Monthly Archives: June 2022

Sitting, still

Just sitting, we find out everything. Keeping still, watching, you can’t do this practice wrong. There is nothing to achieve, nothing to strain after; nothing needs to be different in any way.

Sitting still, “[a]ll you’re going to do is sit, and experience whatever is going on. This means feeling whatever you feel (emotionally or physically), think whatever you think – and just watch. There will be parts of your experience you want to (and try to) avoid and parts you want to (and try to) cling to. Just watch that too.” (Ordinary Mind Zendo)

To be conscious is all we can do, anyway. Everything that arrives, arrives in awareness. The plain mind is fundamentally bright, a mirror without stain or pattern, not different from the unconditioned light itself. Things pass through. There is no trace. This is the heart’s ease, the gift itself and the spring of compassion. What else could it be?

It is home

A couple of weeks ago I wrote quite a long blog post on the subject of trust. As time goes on I am increasingly sure that what I said there is true:

Trust is fundamental to being human. Perhaps in fact it is fundamental to being alive, in whatever form of being we may find ourselves. It is a value that transcends culture, transcends opinion, transcends our reactions to our circumstances – even ones that strike at our very existential security, and, in their threat to future generations, strike at our evolutionary sense of purpose as inhabitants of Earth.

There is a trust that rests on a far deeper foundation that our frail lives. Each of us will die: that is the one thing of which we may be utterly certain. But our death, like our life, rests in the ground of being from which we cannot fall.

This short guided meditation from Jack Kornfield’s 2008 book The Wise Heart brings us to the heart of what practice is. The road to the encounter with our own true nature is long, and for some of us tortuous, but it is the road home:

Sit comfortably and at ease. Close your eyes. Let your body be at rest and your breathing be natural. Begin to listen to the play of sounds around you. Notice those that are loud or soft, far and near. Notice how sounds arise and vanish on their own, leaving no trace. After you have listened for a few minutes, let yourself sense, feel, or imagine that your mind is not limited to your head. Sense that your mind is expanding to be open like the sky—clear, vast like space. Feel that your mind extends outward beyond the most distant sounds. Imagine there are no boundaries to your mind, no inside or outside. Let the awareness of your mind extend in every direction like the open sky.

Relax in this openness and just listen. Now every sound you hear—people, cars, wind, soft sounds—will arise and pass away like a cloud in the open space of your own mind. Let the sounds come and go, whether loud or soft, far or near, let them be clouds in the vast sky of your own awareness, appearing and disappearing without resistance. As you rest in this open awareness for a time, notice how thoughts and feelings also arise and vanish like sounds in the open space of mind. Let the thoughts and feelings come and go without struggle or resistance. Pleasant and unpleasant thoughts, pictures, words, joys, and sorrows—let them all come and go like clouds in the clear sky of mind.Then, in this spacious awareness also notice how you experience the body. The mind is not in the body. The body sensations float and change in the open sky of mind. The breath breathes itself; it moves like a breeze. If you observe carefully, the body is not solid. It reveals itself as areas of hardness and softness, pressure and tingling, warm and cool sensation, all floating in the space of awareness.

Relax. Rest in this openness. Let sensations float and change. Allow thoughts and images, feelings and sounds to come and go like clouds in the clear, open space of awareness. As you do, pay attention to the consciousness itself. Notice how the open space of awareness is clear, transparent, timeless, and without conflict—allowing for all things but not limited by them. This is your own true nature. Rest in it. Trust it. It is home.

Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart: Buddhist Psychology for the West