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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 83 of bringing even the most debilitat- ing conditions to the path. ... If you become accustomed to looking at the experience of pain—if that looking is genuine and you can rest your mind in the pure sensation—then you will see a difference in how you experience the pain. ... When a greater sickness strikes us, we will not be hit by it in the same way. It will not be such a problem or a shock. We can face even the pain and suffering of dying with greater confidence because we are facing familiar territory instead of the unknown. When the actual moment of death arrives, we will be able to look at that pain and transform it. —from Mind Beyond Death, by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche Having done this pain meditation for years, I now relate very differently to the sting of an insect bite or a stubbed toe. Instead of my knee-jerk aversion to pain, it almost becomes spiritual. My throb- bing toe reminds me to meditate, which alters the intensity of the pain. I’m begin- ning to bring pain onto my path. Another reverse meditation is to cre- ate as many thoughts as possible. Instead of calming your mind down, whip it up. Again, start with shamatha, then make your mind as stormy as possible. Think of yesterday, think of tomorrow, visual- ize Paris, New York, or the pyramids. Do so as quickly as you can. Now is your chance to do what you always wanted to do on the meditation cushion: go hog wild mentally. This is particularly helpful for the karmic bardo of becoming, where the gales of karma rearise and blow us into our next life. By becoming familiar with those winds now, we’ll be able to sail in stormy seas later. Notice that you can sit quietly in the center of this voluntary cyclone and not be moved by it. You’re practicing how to hold your seat in the midst of men- tal chaos. Don’t buy into the thoughts and emotions. Just watch the upheaval. This practice expands the sense of sha- matha because even though your mind is howling, you’re able to maintain inner peace. As the sage Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “It is disinterestedness that liberates.” Do the meditation for a minute. Rest in shamatha, then do it again. Because reverse meditations are intense, short sessions prevent resentment. Don’t underestimate the power of short medi- tations. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche says, “We usually view anything small as unimportant and not really worth doing. For example, if we only have five min- utes to meditate, we tell ourselves, ‘Oh, five minutes is nothing. It is not enough to change my life. I need to practice for at least an hour.’ ” But with meditation, short is sweet. It’s like running. You don’t start with a marathon. You start with short runs and work your way up. Short sessions repeated frequently are just as effective as longer sessions done infrequently, if not more so. And when it comes to mixing meditation and post- meditation, which is how to transform your life into meditation, short frequent sessions reign supreme. Another meditation is to place your- self in a loud and overly stimulating envi- ronment, then work on staying centered. Flip on the television, crank up the ste- reo, turn on the alarm clock, and sit with the cacophony. Go to a loud and crazy place and meditate. If you have kids, this environment is already part of your life. One of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s sons once complained to him about how hard it is to meditate in Kathmandu because of all the noise and distraction. Rinpoche said to him, “If you can’t practice under these conditions, how will you ever prac- tice in the bardo?” As with all reverse meditations, find the silence in the noise, the stillness in the motion. Even if you never do these meditations, just knowing about them helps you reverse your relationship to unwanted experience. The next time you’re in a crazy environment, like a subway station or Times Square, you might remember these instructions and transform the mayhem into meditation. I frequently travel to India, a land of intense chaos. Instead of getting irritated ➤ continued from page 60 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