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Buddhadharma : Winter 2009
19 winter 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly we need continual awareness that relates with life constantly, directly and very simply. The attitude that brings about mindful- ness and awareness is not an opinionated one. Mindfulness is simply about a sense of being; you are in contact, you are actually being there. When you sit on the meditation cushion, you feel you are sitting there and that you actually exist. You don’t need to encour- age or sustain your sense of being. We might actually question what is the purpose of meditation, what happens next, but actually the idea of meditation is to develop an entirely different way of dealing with things, where you have no purpose at all. One is not constantly on the way to some- where, or rather one is on the way and at the destination at the same time. Meditation is not a quick cure or cover-up for the complicated or embarrassing aspects of ourselves. It is a way of life. It is extremely important to persist in our practice without second-guessing ourselves through disap- pointments, elations, or whatever. We might actually begin to see the world we carry with us in a more open, refreshing way. Meditation is very much a matter of exercise, a work- ing practice. It is not a matter of going into some imaginary depth, but of widening and expanding outward. From the truth of Suffering By chögyam trungpa, puBlished By shamBhala puBlications, 2009 be sure to paCk your problems Don’t try to escape your problems when you go on retreat, says Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Bring them along. I often joke that when the retreat ends and one gets into one’s car to return home, simply inhaling the familiar smell of the car’s interior brings all of their samsara back in full. I call it the experience of “samsaric car prana.” Keeping one’s worldly life and one’s prac- tice life separate is a weakness in the way the dharma is often approached, particularly in the West. As a result, when people come to a retreat and engage with the teachings and practices, they feel very good, but then after- ward when they go back into their lives, they feel completely disconnected. It’s as if they experience extra pain when they go back to their normal life because of the degree of disconnectedness between their practice and their life. It’s a real blessing for us to be able to bring our worldly life with us when we enter a retreat. The retreat provides support for inter- nal reflection and for looking closely and with real clarity at yourself and the conflicts in your life. When you look closely, at first you may find it unpleasant to think about or feel these real issues. You may say, “One reason that I came to retreat is to not think about that.” But that is not really smart. There are a lot of sup- ports here. I am not talking about the support you might feel from discussing your problems with others. I am suggesting another kind of support that comes from internal reflection and working directly with the purifying and transformative practices that we are learning, along with feeling the support of the bless- ings that we all have here. It is a much more powerful and effective approach than simply talking about your issues. So for a moment let’s not talk about a problem and instead internally reflect upon it. The idea is to bring the conflict up into consciousness, bringing it into your body, into your breath, and into your mind. Bringing it up in this way on the cushion, you can experi- ence it most coarsely in the body, then more subtly as a sense of breath, a sense of prana. From there, you can then work with that prana through various practices and actually release that prana through your practice. And, if you work in that very direct and concrete way, then you will start to feel that something is shifting and changing. Each time you prac- tice clearing that prana, your practice takes you closer to the space of mind that is natu- rally clear and open. kimscafuro