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Buddhadharma : Fall 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 09 54 the future? I’m not going to be able to walk!” We get outside that story and start to see the phenomena in deconstructed form. We start to see the non-self aspect and the dukkha, and we see that it’s always changing. reggie ray: The question of the role of the body in meditation assumes there’s meditation and there’s a body. What is it that meditates, though? In a sense, it’s the body that meditates. As Phillip discussed, awareness is not localized in the head. It pervades the body, and when we tap into the fundamental awareness of our person, we are completely contained within our somatic experience. The reason we might ask such a ques- tion in our Western culture is that we objectify the body as somehow separate from our awareness, separate from our minds, but that’s incorrect from a Buddhist standpoint. We can rephrase the question as, “Who or what is meditating?” The answer is that our whole being is meditating, and the body is the locale of that awareness. We see that the body is the one and only gateway for the meditative state. The more we pay attention to the body, the more we dis- cover that the body is at the heart of the mystery of human life. We discover that the body is not this solid entity that we can use for our aims—be that meditation or whatever you choose. Every year, I teach a program called “Meditating With the Body.” Most people who come to the program are not medita- tors, but rather people who work with their bodies in various ways. They find that through their Rolfing, massage, or yoga practice, they’ve started to realize that the body leads them into something deeper. It leads them to a state of mind they’ve been looking for their whole life. From the perspective of being spiritual teachers, we could talk about what we consider inauthentic motivations for engaging the body, but I would rather say that all motivations for engaging the body are good ones, because they eventually lead us to a much bigger state (clockwisefromtopleft):davidmartinez;davidmartolomi;christinealicino;janineguldener the first awareness is “awareness of the body in the body.” This becomes the foundation from which the other aware- nesses of your experience are understood. We come to under- stand how our awareness of the pleasant and the unpleasant in the body controls the mind. Then we move to awareness of the mind states themselves, but these utilize the body as well. How do you know anything other than through the body? I’ve found that students who don’t have the ability to stay aware of what’s going on in the body, who don’t know how to place attention in the body and in various parts of the body, are much less likely to develop in their practice. They get stuck. BuddhadharMa: You spoke of the Buddha’s formulation of “awareness of the body in the body.” What do you take this to mean? PhiLLiP Moffitt: Orienting toward direct, nonconceptual expe- rience. Not staying in your head. I use the term “dropped attention,” which comes from aikido. We drop out of our head and into direct experience, what’s often called the “felt sense.” We have views and opinions about our experience, but here we are talking about knee pain as a direct experience, not our view and opinion about knee pain. Direct experience of knee pain is about twisting, burning, expanding, contract- ing, pulsating, coming in waves, whatever it may be. That is knowing knee pain, and there are so many different aware- nesses that arise out of that. You immediately see that it’s not a solid experience. In modern terms, we are deconstructing phenomena. We are looking at moment-to-moment phenomena as they arise. The Buddha was the original deconstructionist, the original phenomenologist. The body is a great laboratory for prac- ticing deconstruction. We can experience phenomena, rather than the soap opera of our lives that goes on up in the old coconut. “Oh, my knee hurts. What’s gonna happen to me in 54 ones, because they eventually lead us to a much bigger state (clockwisefromtopleft):davidmartinez;davidmartolomi;christinealicino;janineguldener coconut. “Oh, my knee hurts. What’s gonna happen to me in PHilliP MoFFiTT is a member of the teachers’ council at Spirit rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and is a core teacher in its Mindfulness yoga and Meditation Training Program. He is the author of Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering. CynDi lee is a longtime practitioner of hatha yoga and Tibetan Buddhism, and founder of the oM yoga studio in new york. She is the author of Yoga Body, Buddha Mind. GeSHe TenZin WAnGyAl rinPoCHe is a lineage holder in the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet and the founder and spiritual director of ligmincha institute, an international network of centers and sanghas. His books include Unbounded Wholeness and Tibetan Sound Healing. reGGie rAy is the spiritual director of the Dharma ocean Foundation based in Crestone, Colorado. He leads a five-month course called Meditating With the Body, and is the author of Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body.