Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bringing the child out of the closet

In some philosophies there is a line drawn, in relation to the ego. Some suggest the ego is at fault. So from that point on, it's war. But what is at war? The ego becomes at war with itself. This is the problem with a conceptual based practice. A practice of ideas. Which is based on the belief that we don't know the truth. Ultimately, we can not get rid of our problems with some sort of dogma.

Our conditioning runs deep into our subconscious. It is very present in our day to day lives, though we may not always be aware of it. Most of the time we only experience the tip of the ice burg. In each one of us, there is a wounded ego. Out of this wounded ego, we have created a method of survival. A method to cope with our environment. Then we find ourselves as an adult, having habitual tendencies that we don't understand. For me it is as if I took a crying child, put him in a closet and told him to shut up, and forgot about him. I am still in the in the closet. My practice of Zazen has helped me to remember this.

While sitting we have the opportunity to look deeply into our suffering, and see its roots. This takes a certain type of attention. It requires us to be completely honest and accepting to the things that arise in our practice. If we have some sort of idea of what we are going for, or have a very narrow concentration on an object, we will never break the surface. Never see the root of our conditioning. We must have the courage to allow our suffering to flare up to it's full potential, and watch it from a sort of parental point of view. We need to love that child, and allow it to express it's self. We need to give that child the support that it needs. Sometimes I dialogue with the pain that arises. I ask it, "whats going on here?" It doesn't always answer right away, but if I stay present with it, eventually it will answer. At that point I can begin healing that child. This is not always easy. To move into pain, seems unnatural to us. But if we get underneath the pain, we'll find what is actually going on. Usually, from my experience at least, there is an under lying emotion. One that we are not always aware of. When that emotion is discovered, it can trigger a memory. Then we can work with that memory intelligently. Instead of running from it.

Sometimes we may come to a religion, or a spiritual practice, in order to give the ego what it wants. But what the ego wants is not the problem. We need to bring that child out of the closet, and heal it. The ego will follow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The sent of Samadhi

"Suppose, friends, a cloth has become soiled and stained, and its owners give it to the laundryman. The laundryman would scour it evenly with cleaning salt, lye, or cow dung, and rinse it in clean water. Even though that cloth would become pure and clean, it would still retain a residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cow dung that had not yet vanished. The laundryman would then give it back to the owners. The owners would put it in a sweet-scented chest, and the residual smell of cleaning salt, lye, or cow dung that had not yet vanished would vanish."

Samyutta Nikaya 22:89 Removing the residual conceit "I am"

In the Buddha's Words - Bhikkhu Bodhi pg 405

The three contemplations are Impermanence, Suffering, and Non-Self. Which is being referred to above as the cleansers. Which also become taints. Though they are better than a soiled rag, eventually they must be dropped. The ideas, or sense of self behind the insights that is. But it is not a process that can be skipped either. Seeing the process of an object arising in the mind, discovering the suffering, and the tension wrapped around it. Dropping the resistance/clinging of an object. Allowing it to pass through the mind freely. This all must be done. But according to the Buddha, is not the final destination .

"The owners would put it in a sweet-scented chest, and the residual smell.........would vanish."
What is he pointing at here? Is it not enough to let go of suffering, of ego? At this point of realization there is still a tiny amount of ego here, because there is a sense of "I" in relation to the process. The True Self hasn't been completely seen yet. Where is it? What is it, maybe the better question? Of course it is you, but what is that? This is the purpose of the process. To get to a point to where their ego diminishes, and True Self shines through. The sweet-scented chest is the scent of Samadhi. Samadhi is resting in true self, or as I like to say Raw Mind. It is important to know,"that is me." If its not looked at this way, than that means there is clinging/resistance towards it. Then the scent will vanish, and ego will be dominant.

To me, the phrase "Conceit, I am" is very interesting. When this is how we feel, doubt is dominant. The need to uphold an image of self, is purely built on doubt. Because we're also upholding an image of what we are not, or what we don't want to be, simultaneously. This is how we can recognize the ego. Constant comparison of self, and other. We can also see it in the body. Mental clinging/resistance will always manifest as tension in the body. This is why zazen is said to be a body practice. And why the Buddha said to relax the body during zazen. In Soto Zen it is said that perfect posture is perfect enlightenment. From this perspective we can understand why. When one is not in the body it is impossible to have perfect posture. With that being said. Where, and what is Raw Mind? Maybe you should be hit with a staff!

Only the scent of samadhi will liberate us. The removal of conceit. The removal of doubt.