Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Morning Thought

Our practice should be based on the idea of selflessness. Selflessness is very difficult to understand. If you try to be selfless, that is already a selfish idea. Selflessness will be there when you do not try anything.
~Shunryu Suzuki

For a mind like mine, that thinks it can think its way to anything and everything, this is a challenging practice. Doing nothing, what a strange concept.

My ego wants the big AHA! and my mind works with it saying, "We can do that, we just have to read enough or think enough and we'll get it." And I end up caught deeper in craving.

So I keep returning to the breath, to baby steps. One breath at a time. Breathe in, breathe out.

Breath by breath, I learn the traps my mind sets for me.


Anonymous said...

But I wonder about that advice, Bill. I think it can be misleading. I strongly suspect that selflessness is a current that we eventually plug into automatically (selflessly) but that we get there as we get anywhere (or anything) else meaningful: through practice. This is partly what Wilber and Cohen go on and on about in every issue of WIE when they're talking about evolutionary enlightenment: basically, faking it until you make. As wierd as this sounds, responding lovingly, generously and selflessly, even when I'm feeling exactly the opposite, has afforded me the greatest strides by far toward the truth (the internal sensation, not merely behavior) of those feelings. One day you'll be "there," but until then you have to just act like you're "there." Like when your martial arts sensei keeps yelling "Don't think! Do!" Well, yeah, but first you have to practice a whole bunch.

My two cents.

Kai in NYC

Umguy said...

I've had real trouble letting go of the idea that what I am looking for is some blaring of the trumpts, AHA moment.

I'd hate for enlightment to slip by and me to miss it. Which is, I know, a bit silly. But there ya go.

william harryman said...

Hey guys, thanks for the comments.

I like the idea of "fake it until you make it," and I try to do that with my behavior and how I relate to the world (with variable success). And I also try to do what you mentioned, Kai, a very valuable practice: responding lovingly, generously and selflessly, even when I'm feeling exactly the opposite, has afforded me the greatest strides by far toward the truth. This has done the most for me, really, in terms of how I bring my practice into my daily life.

But in terms of meditation practice, it feels sometimes like I want the BIG AHA! so badly that my attachment to that quest runs counter to the point of sitting and watching the mind.

For example, rather than just sitting and watching the mind, or doing a loving-kindness meditation, I'll do a mantra meditation or I'll meditate on some passage from a sutra. And honestly, I'm looking for bells and whistles not selflessness. Then I'm self-critical for bringing ego to the cushion so blatantly, and it becomes a negative experience rather than a positive experience.

How's that for messed up? [That's my inner critic chiming in.]

It's not always like that, but I've been noticing it a bit more lately, which may mean that I am making progress in seeing the traps my mind lays for me.

Anyway, thanks for adding your thoughts.


The Zero Boss said...

anonymous: I see it as a matter of motivation. There's a difference between choosing to be selfless in order to be seen as a good person, and choosing selflessness in order to draw nearer to the Divine.

Anonymous said...

Someone (a lot of someones actually) have talked about what a wonderful teacher despair can be. True, honest to God, abandoned despair. For a long time I hoped to experience "the light body," or satori, sudden insight, exctasy, a blazing illumination in which everything, and everyone, was bathed with significance. But always nada. So, one day I despaired: for me it will never happen, I decided. If this were a movie, I'd now reveal how, at that moment, I at long last experienced mahasamadhi, but, no, indeed nothing remotely "spiritual" or noteworthy as ever happened to me in any of my meditations before or since I began to despair. But at least all that anxiety and expectation and everyday-disappointed-hope is gone. Now I sit, nothing much happens, and I go on with my day. Feels MUCH better. So, I recommend despair.

Kai in NYC