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Buddhadharma : Spring 2016
28 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 1 6 hard. He taught that the heart of these three is non- meditation, which involves the discovery of non- volitional space—a place where we drop striving and trust the fullness of what is already present. When practicing non-meditation, we are not trying to accomplish a task or tether our mind to something, such as the breath. But we are not giving up either. So what are we doing? The short answer is that we are not doing—we are being. The initial task of non-meditation is to find a home in the pres- ent moment and let go of holding on to anything whatsoever. If there is a mantra of non-meditation, perhaps it is let go, let go, let go. We let go of inten- tions, schemes, expectations, projects, and grasping. When we practice letting go again and again in this way, a spacious quality of mind that is naturally open and free emerges from the background of our consciousness into the foreground of our experi- ence. If we can stay with the freshness of what is unfolding, aspects of our being conditioned by grasping and reactivity are gradually able to release. Honing the skill of becoming a consummate non- doer does not mean becoming passive. It also does not mean our cognitive constructions—about medi- tation or anything else—vanish. Being, we discover, is not the antithesis of doing. Doing exists in the womb of being. So the practice of non-meditation is not so much an escape from constructions as it is a practice of noticing there is a great deal more to our experience than the constructions alone. In non-meditation, our projections, beliefs, and opinions are held lightly, and the vibrant space around and within them becomes the refuge. In everyday life, we focus on the content of the mind’s activity. In non-meditation, we focus on the energy of the mind’s activity. From that vantage point, thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and so on are just pure dynamic energy, neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong. When we notice this, we ease up on ourselves. We become more aware of the rela- tivity of our thoughts and are able to disentangle ourselves from them, which enables us to be less reactive to whatever is happening, inside or out. We trust the energy of thought more than its content and can therefore have a sense of humor about the antics of our own mind. Natural Awareness Is Already Present One of the assumptions I long carried with me as a meditator was that I am not good enough as I am. As a result, for many years I operated under the notion that meditation would fix me and make me a better, more peaceful person. Many of us carry this notion deep down; we tend to come to the spiritual path wanting to make our lives and ourselves better. In other words, when we embark on a project of meditation, we do so with a belief that it will lead us to a future state of peace. In Mahamudra prac- tice, however, the goal is not a future peace. While the aspiration to attain inner peace or to be free from suffering may seem perfectly natural, there is a subtle kind of violence—and also a deep misunder- standing—in the notion that we are not sufficient as we are. A basic tenet of Buddhism is that our innermost being is already aware, clear, and unwavering. Not in the future, but right now. In some traditions, this fully wise, awake aspect is called buddhanature. In Mahamudra practice, it is called natural awareness. Natural awareness is not a state; it is fundamental In non-meditation, our projections, beliefs, and opinions are held lightly, and the vibrant space around and within them becomes the refuge.