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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
20 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 2 NARAYAN LIEBENSON GRADY: In quiet- ing the mind and investigating the true nature of phenomena and ourselves, we are answering an ancient echo that invites us into a deeper life, exploring what truly brings peace and lasting hap- piness. This takes us beyond appearances and helps us see that our efforts to find happiness by consuming, for example, only bring us further away from what the heart yearns for. This kind of understanding is a nat- ural outcome of meditating. It is what the Buddha called the second noble truth: recognizing that the cause of suffering is ignorance or craving. With greater atten- tiveness and wisdom, we are more likely to see not only our own delusions but those of others as well. At times, this sense of separation can feel intensified, but it is just a phase of the path. I would encourage you to turn toward that sense of alienation and investigate its nature. Is it fear? Is it reactivity? Is it doubt? Are you clinging to a sense of self? The feeling of alienation is a signal that a sense of self is being constructed, that you are identifying with your per- ceptions. You may come to see that you are attached to a concept of who you are in relationship to what you are seeing, and that from this comes the perception of self and other. It is said that we don’t see things as they are, but rather we see things as we are. In other words, everything we see is colored by our state of mind. It’s good you are aware that something is not quite right. Sometimes practitioners become more critical of others the lon- ger they practice and don’t question this sense of separation. In the quiet of samadhi, there is still a sense of self. The silence of samadhi is conditioned, which means things need to be a certain way for this silence to occur, and they need to remain that way for it to continue. We may attempt to grasp after the quiet, to try to make it last. Then, when anything threatens to take it away—to disturb “my” medi- tation—we feel cranky and irritable. Attachment is always problematic, even if it is attachment to refined meditative sensations, recollections, emotions, and thoughts—all varieties of experience— and see them as the doorways to the unbounded space of being, the source of all positive qualities. Again, these qualities will naturally arise and support full engagement in life. I believe it is important to work with a qualified teacher who can support and guide the practitioner to progress from calm abiding to engaging and fully con- necting with one’s experience in order to act spontaneously for the benefit of others. Throughout the day it is possible to work directly with challenges as they arise. I recommend to my students that they take three “pills”: a pill of stillness, which means in the midst of activity bringing focused attention to discover the stillness that is always available; a pill of silence, which is bringing atten- tion to the silence pervading all sound; and a pill of spaciousness, which, when discovered, brings the warmth of con- nection. In simple language, stillness of body opens to an experience of unbounded spaciousness; silence of speech brings awareness that is infinite and full; through spaciousness, or open- ness, you discover warmth and bliss, the enlightened creative quality. In this way your meditation practice on and off the cushion can support full engagement in the world. Buddha spoke of guiding all sentient beings of the six realms of existence. Today we speak of global consciousness and of having an impact on one’s com- munity. In order to bring forth enlight- ened qualities, it is important to connect with the warmth of awareness that reveals the interconnectedness of all life. A sense of creativity and drive will come as you open fully. Again, this openness is discovered by initially retreating from distorted patterns and discovering their insubstantial nature. As you connect to the openness that is discovered by doing so, creative, dynamic energy spontane- ously emerges from the openness itself. In this way, each of us becomes an agent of individual, social, and global transformation. Learn to make daily life a source of growth, inquiry, and trans- formation. Be part of a dynamic Buddhist center in downtown Berkeley, CA and make a real contribution to the world! Use your best skills and learn new ones: non-profit manage- ment, academic research, school administration, sacred art, event planning, cooking, documenta- ries, websites, and more. Classes in traditional Dharma, medita- tion, Tibetan yoga, and Nying- ma Psychology. Free room and board in a beautiful community setting, small stipend, 6-month commitment. Dharmavolunteers.org firstname.lastname@example.org Berkeley, CA Dharma Work at Work-stuDy opportunities Berkeley Dharma Way