At first, it’s like a flickering little candle flame. Over time, as the mindfulness and vigilance muscles are strengthened, the flame becomes more sustainable. As we are able to see more and more of the yummy fruits of this practice, we gain more and more confidence in it.
Filling in some details on the constantly evolving BuddhaGang method of meditation. The sections are somewhat connected, but this might be better approached as a series of disconnected assertions.
- Step by Step: going home to the pure land of this present moment.
- There *is* an effort.
- No shame, no guilt. Just clear discernment.
- Spread your views! Learn, practice, share, repeat.
- A vision and a method.
- Short and frequent meditation sessions.
- Not a chaotic pond, not a frozen pond.
- The two sticks that burn away in that bliss-fire.
- Consensus reality?
- Notself is normal now
- Real and unreal
- Compassion and wisdom
- Bright empty space
- The realization is itself the attainment.
Yes, we strive on the path. Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, we keep going. Yes, our goal is perfect enlightenment.
Step by Step: going home to the pure land of this present moment.
With more confidence, there is less doubt.
With reduced doubt there is increased concentration potential.
A mind that can concentrate at will is well-tamed.
We ride into Nirvana upon our own well-tamed self.
Mind has been engaged in pain-producing cycles,
a well tamed mind can stop these cycles.
Unfortunately, well-tamed minds are rare.
The unskilled mind is common.
Some, because they see how common unskillfulness is, assume that the perfectly skilled mind is unattainable.
judging by the progress seen in one foolish and unskilled meditator’s short lifetime,
is a wrong conclusion.
We are going home to the pure land of this present moment upon our own well-tamed self. Jesus taught this, too. With continual mindfulness, we see things we didn’t notice before.
We train ourselves to remain continually mindful and a new world is slowly, immediately, revealed.
But yeah, we actually have to do the thing. Those who don’t look won’t see. No amount of description can adequately describe the taste of an apple to someone who has never tasted an apple. So we strive on. Investigate. We see for ourselves.
There *is* an effort.
Je Gampopa (Who is that? Doesn’t matter right now! We’ll talk about him later) says:
To observe perfectly the perceiving mind exactly as it is,
without impairing its form or missing any aspects,
actually means to encounter the real Buddha.
So, yes, we do strive to go beyond, beyond, diligently, happily. There is a goal. And yeah, this goal is special, different, unique, unlike other goals. We work to uncover the magical truth of the ordinary mind.
Again, Je Gampopa shares:
“Ordinary Mind” means refers to primordial awareness, not distorted by dogma or dialectics.”
Having understood this ordinary mind we move from a painful unsatisfied state of clinging-to-being, to a pain-free and satisfied beyond being and nonbeing. I have heard that Nirvana can be taken to mean “cooling” as well as “cessation”. I’m not sure of all the ways the word has been used over time, but I like the idea. I like it because I can see that there are many little Nirvanas on the way to that perfect Mahaparinirvana. We are putting out a forest fire. There are many little fires to take care of.
No Shame, No guilt. Just clear discernment.
Some avoid this kind of problem-solution language, but there is no need to worry. There is no shame or guilt in our own self-admonishment. It’s okay, and essential, to admit when we have done what we know is wrong. The repentant mind is not the same as a shameful or guilty mind.
We do not seek to shame our good friends as we offer up gentle admonishment. We discern what is skillful to be skillful and what is unskillful to be unskillful; and if we are compelled, we compassionately share our views with our friends.
Spread your views! Learn, practice, share, repeat.
Don't let them silence you, either.
Don’t let the haters discourage you. No one is always praised, no one is always blamed. Praise and blame is irrelevant. You have a responsibility to put forth the best of your mind (mind, here, is more than “mind”, we need more than sly quips). Share it. You are a master to someone out there and a student to someone else out there. That is awesome.
It’s like holding a light up for people on a dark path. No one lights a lamp and hides it under a blanket– they raise it up high for all to benefit. Do that. May the scent of your virtues travel far and be received with a smile by all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and all sentient beings in ten directions. Shine on.
A vision and a method
Here, there is a pure idealism grounded to consensus reality by the recognition of interdependence, an unwavering focus on right conduct, and meditation.
The method is simply a restatement of the three divisions of the Buddha’s eightfold path.
- Wisdom is born of
- insight and tranquility and founded on
- right conduct.
Short and Frequent Meditation Sessions
We practice short and frequent sessions of intentional, clearly focused, tranquil abiding (a combination of tranquility and insight). We carry over the benefits of meditation into the post-absorptive state and this forms the basis for our good conduct.
One good thing about good conduct, among many other good things, is that it ensures we will not be distracted by our own wrong deeds and the guilt / shame that is usually the result of such behavior. Another good thing: we make less enemies and gain more friends, friends support us along our path and enemies would have distracted us. There are many benefits to good conduct, some of them have been explored elsewhere on gnotruth.com, some of them will be explored in the future, but we are going to move on now.
We avoid stressing ourselves out too much about meditation so that we don’t condition ourselves to avoid it. Little frequent sessions are good enough for us. In time we become capable of sitting for longer, but this is not our concern.
Not a chaotic pond, not a frozen pond.
Imagine you’re throwing rocks into a pond. If it’s a windy day, you won’t be able to trace the ripples that extend out from the rock’s initial splash. The wind makes the water choppy, when you throw a rock, you can barely even see the ripples. That is one extreme.
A disturbed mind is like the pond’s choppy surface, blown about by the wind. It is difficult to derive insight when the mind is stirred up by various emotions and thoughts. So, we work to chill it down. But, if we chill it down too much, we end up at the other extreme– the water is frozen– and that is no good, either.
If we throw rocks onto a frozen body of water, we won’t be able to gain insight into the way the ripples move outward from the site of our rock’s impact. This frozen body of water represents the state of unconscious inertness that is often mistaken for perfect awakening.
The two sticks burn away in that bliss-fire.
We are always working to maintain the warm bliss-fire produced by “rubbing the two sticks together”. The two sticks represent tranquility and insight. Two sticks are used to build a fire and the fire consumes them both.
Some people falsely assume that insight is purely conceptual and tranquility is purely nonconceptual, but this cannot be. Tranquility without insight is unconscious inertness. Insight without tranquility is the common jibber jabber of any tweaker on the street. Yet, as is clear to all who have seen, the fire is indeed the result of tranquility and insight, although neither are no longer anywhere to be found.
We have clearly seen that objectivity is without external foundation, we can no longer sustain that illusion. Yet, on the other hand, this BuddhaGang does not celebrate a simple solipsism.
We are alone (as One Mind) but together (as many sentient beings) with all the other self-defined partitions of One Mind.
We recognize the existence of other agents acting in this wild mind system. It is truly all beyond Singularity and Multiplicity. We use the phrase Consensus Reality to snake our way between the extremes of real and unreal, existent and nonexistent, etc..
Notself is normal now.
Notself is not too hard to grasp. Thankfully, it may not be what you think it is.
The basic foundations of the notself idea are present in most people’s minds already, but the insight may not yet have properly clicked in to place. When you talk about it with using the various sanksrit words people get all twisted up. But, really, everyone knows we are actually made of trillions of cells (hopefully, they have come this far). We can’t possibly be ‘one thing’. But on the other hand, here we are, and in a very real sense, we are one thing. There is paradox, that is okay. The paradox is born of our faulty worldview, our conceptual framework is just not adequate.
We all know that there isn’t some single cell in there somewhere playing chariot driver, coordinating the actions of all the rest of trillions of cells across the one body. There is interdependence from top to bottom. The relations between all the cells, the field, is even seen to display a kind of intelligence. The feeling of self-being falls upon various levels and patterns of matter and energy. On the one hand, yes, I am, and on the other hand, no, I am not what I think I am.
Real and Unreal.
Someone wanted to know if Avalokitesvara was a real being. The person wanted assurance that the practices related to Avalokitesvara were really worth doing. They wanted a definite declaration of reality or unreality. This person was told, “Avalokitesvara knows she is not real”. In the same way, you can consider, “I am composed of only notself elements, who am I? I am a real being. Yet, I know that I am not real at all!
The thing is, it is possible to recognize that beings are both real and unreal. You will read about the two truths if you spend much time with Buddhism. Bodhisattvas coursing in prajna-paramita (the perfection of wisdom, understanding, insight) chill beyond all those duality problems.
Compassion and Wisdom.
We are told strive to save infinite sentient beings while also realizing there are no individual sentient beings to save. As we exercise these mind muscles, we get really good at hanging out with paradox. This balanced attitude, with both compassion and wisdom, aligns our intentions and attention, with love which helps to cool the flames of delusion and pain both within and without.
Bright empty space.
Original Mind has two identifiable characteristics. Light and space.
Gospel of Thomas, 61:
Yeshua said, I say, if you are whole, you will be filled with light, but if divided, you will be filled with darkness.
Luminosity. Light. Creativity. The mind projects objects and clings to them as if they were inherently real. Mind’s creative power is what ultimately causes the obstructions to arise. What causes mind to arise? Mind is mind made. Just another imputation.
Space. Potential. Voidness allows motion and transformation. In perfect fullness (Pleroma) there is nothing to know, nothing to discriminate… no story to tell. Ultimately, fullness is emptiness and emptiness is the womb that gives rise to all the aspects of fullness.
Ignorance gives foundation to painful wrong views.
With extreme luminosity, One Mind creates the obstructions and clings to a wide variety of wrong views as it spins out webs of forms and relations over beginningless eternity.
The Realization is itself the Attainment.
We eradicate ignorance, and with it, the whole system crumbles. We can do this through a variety of methods. The Shurangama Sutra explains many of the methods but ultimately ends up encouraging us to practice sublimation of the hearing mind, just as Avalokiteshvara did, to work toward samyaksambuddha.
After Avalokitesvara describes the practice and the fruit, Manjusri comes in and affirms that sublimation of the hearing mind is a supreme practice. Different sutras recommend different methods, no big deal! Different religions offer different frameworks, no big deal! With infinite sentient beings, there are infinite Dharma doors. You can read about Upaya and the 84,000 dharma doors for more information.
Another way of saying this, is to say that discriminative mind’s current dominance over the intuitive mind has obstructed clear understanding of our essential nature (and this obstruction is the ignorance that has kicked this whole thing into motion).
So, if we can, with a tranquil mind, attain a clear insight of our essential nature, we will have sparked a good enlightening-fire that will burn away both conceptuality and nonconceptuality; eventually revealing the pure land of this present moment that was always available to those who look. Those who have sought the truth, have found it. Those who have “asked” with confidence and diligence, have received an answer.
Gospel of Thomas, 2:
Yeshua said, Seek and do not stop seeking until you find. When you find, you will be troubled. When you are troubled, you will marvel and rule over all.
We come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself.
Gospel of Thomas, 50:
Yeshua said, If they say to you, “Where have you come from?” say to them, “We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established itself, and appeared in their image.” If they say to you, “Is it you?” say, “We are its children and the chosen of the living father.” If they ask you, “What is the evidence of your father in you?” say to them, “It is motion and rest.”