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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 79 with the teacher trying to guide Kevin’s response to a correct answer. But Kevin was adamant, and finally, in some frus- tration, he said, “When you cut open any apple, it’s always white inside.” Perception can be in the service of greater mindfulness and awareness. Instead of concepts limiting our view of what’s arising, properly employed, they can frame the moment’s expe- rience, enabling a deeper and more careful observation. It is like putting a frame around a painting in order to see it more clearly. A Buddhist monk named Nanananda spoke of “rallying the concepts for the higher purpose of developing wisdom, whereby concepts themselves are transcended.” Mental Noting The notion of rallying concepts for developing wisdom underlies the pur- pose of the meditative technique of mental noting. This technique uses a word—or sometimes a short phrase—to acknowledge what is arising. The men- tal note or label—such as “in,” “out,” “in,” “out,” “thinking,” “heaviness,” “in,” “out,” “restlessness”—supports clear recognition (perception), which itself strengthens both mindfulness in the moment and the momentum of continuity. Or, as Ajahn Sumedho, one of the first Western disciples of Ajahn Chah, the great Thai master, expressed it: “The breath is like this”; “Pain is like this”; “Calm is like this.” Noting can serve the practice in other ways as well. The very tone of the note in the mind can often illuminate uncon- scious attitudes. We may not be aware of impatience or frustration or delight as we experience different arising objects, but we may start to notice an agitated or enthusiastic tone of voice in the mind. Noting helps cut through our identifi- cation with experience, both when the hindrances are present and when our practice has become very subtle and refined. ➤ ➤ Goldstein continued from page 45 Jakusho Kwong, Abbot Soto Zen Lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi resident training monthly sesshins guest resident practice solo retreats workshops daily meditation rural country setting Genjo-ji 6367 Sonoma Mountain Road Santa Rosa, CA 95404 707.545.8105 firstname.lastname@example.org www.smzc.net SONOMA MOUNTAIN ZEN CENTER