Saturday, October 12, 2019

Balanced Spaciousness

     The word "spacious" or "spaciousness" might be off-putting to some, if associated with being spaced-out or lost in space - loosing touch with reason or the solidity of the earth. 
     However the term, as used in Buddhist and Buddhist-derived secular meditation eg MBSR, refers to the opposite of, or corrective for the cramped, claustrophobic feeling of being trapped inside a repetitive, negative-thought world in our head.  

     “The basic meaning of emptiness, in the Buddhist context, is that the world, which includes us, is not as solid or as substantial as we normally take it to be. And the understanding of that, properly integrated into our life, into our hearts, into our minds, leads to a lot of spaciousness & freedom. There’s a way in which we haven’t quite understood the world or ourselves.
     First, this pointing to emptiness, even with this jarring & provocative title, is meant to be a wakeup call. It’s meant to provoke us to wonder ‘What’s going on here? What is it we’re not quite seeing? And what is it that we could understand differently about ourselves and the world?’
     The second thing is that (in mindfulness meditation, our primary objective is) ‘to see things as they are.’ The idea (behind emptiness) is that we haven’t quite fully seen the way they are, and because of that, we’re caught up in unhappiness & suffering. So this is not just a philosophical or intellectual exercise. The purpose of looking into emptiness, the purpose of talking & reading about it, is to free our hearts and minds so that we are on a path moving away from suffering and into greater happiness.” Guy Armstrong 2017-05-01 Emptiness: A Practical Introduction for Meditators (Drop-in at Spirit Rock) 62:55

     (As our mindfulness meditation practice matures), “there is less and less to do in meditation. Due to the strength of the concentrated mind, the afflictive emotions are largely held in abeyance and don’t require much attention. Thought activity slows down. Even when thoughts arise, they are felt to come and go within a spacious field that is undisturbed by their appearance. One still knows what is present at the sense doors, which continue to function capably and efficiently, but there is no avoiding, grasping, lingering, or seeking to perpetuate what has arisen. Things come and go on their own and are seen with equanimity. There is a pervasive sense of stillness and peace.
     If asked to describe the overall flavor of such an experience, the meditator might say that she is resting, but the attention is alert, neither dull nor sleepy. The peace of meditation is hard to find through other means. As Suzuki Roshi said to his Western students, ‘You know how to rest physically. You do not know how to rest mentally.’ Meditation provides a reliable avenue to rest mentally.” 
       Guy Armstrong. “Emptiness. A Practical Guide for Meditators.” Wisdom Publications, 2017.

     “My clouds, sorrowing in the dark,
forget that they themselves have hidden the sun.” Rabindranath Tagore 

     “We are here to find that dimension within ourselves that is deeper than thought.” Eckhart Tolle 

     “You are the sky. Everything else — it’s just the weather.” Pema Chödrön

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