using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
buddhadharma| 45 |winter 2006 launches into his description of emptiness as an approach to meditation. (the simile is reinforced by the fact that the Pali word for “monastery” or “dwelling” – vihara – also means “attitude” or “approach.”) he describes a monk meditating in the wilderness who is simply noting to him- self that he is now in the wilderness. the monk allows his mind to concentrate on and enjoy the perception “wilderness.” he then steps back men- tally to observe and appreciate that this mode of perception is empty of the disturbances that come with the perceptions of the village life he has left behind. the only remaining disturbances are those associated with the perception “wilderness” – for example, any emotional reactions to the dangers that wilderness might entail. as the buddha says, the monk sees accurately which disturbances are not present in that mode of perception; as for those remaining, he sees accurately, “there is this.” in other words, he adds nothing to what is there and takes nothing away. this is how he enters into a meditative emptiness that is pure and undistorted. then, noting the disturbances inherent in the act of focusing on “wilderness,” the monk drops that perception and replaces it with a more refined perception, one with less potential for arousing dis- turbance. he chooses the earth element, banishing from his mind any details of the hills and ravines of the earth, simply taking note of its earthness. he repeats the process he applied to the percep- tion of wilderness – settling into the perception of “earth,” fully indulging in it, and then stepping back to notice how the disturbances associated with “wilderness” are now gone, while the only remaining disturbances are those associated with the singleness of mind based on the perception of “earth.” he then repeats the same process with ever more refined perceptions, settling into the form- less jhanas, or meditative absorptions: infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothingness, neither perception nor nonperception, and the objectless concentration of awareness. Finally, seeing that even this objectless concen- tration of awareness is fabricated and willed, he drops his desire to continue mentally fabricating anything at all. in this way he is released from the mental fermentations – sensual desire, becoming, views, ignorance – that would “bubble up” into further becoming. he observes that this release still has the disturbances that come with the func- tioning of the six sense spheres, but that it’s empty of all fermentation – all potential for further suffer- ing and stress. this, concludes the buddha, is the entry into a pure and undistorted emptiness that is superior and unsurpassed. it is the emptiness in which he himself dwells and that, throughout time, has never been nor ever will be excelled. throughout this description, emptiness means one thing: empty of disturbance or stress. the meditator is taught to appreciate the lack of dis- turbance as a positive accomplishment and to see any remaining disturbance created by the mind, however subtle, as a problem to be solved. When you understand disturbance as a subtle form of harm, you see the connections between this description of emptiness and the buddha’s instructions to rahula. instead of regarding his meditative states as a measure of self-identity or self-worth – in having developed a self that’s purer, more expansive, more at one with the ground of being – the monk views them simply in terms of actions and their consequences. and the same principles apply here, on the meditative level, as apply to the buddha’s comments to rahula on action in general. here, the action is the perception that underlies your state of meditative concentration. you settle into the state by repeating the action of perception continually, until you are thoroughly familiar with it. Just as rahula discovered the consequences of his actions by observing the harm done to himself or others, here you discover the consequences of concentrating on the perception by seeing how much disturbance arises. as you sense disturbance, you can change your mental action, moving your concentration to a more refined perception, until ultimately you can stop the fabrication of mental states altogether. at the core of this meditation practice are two important principles derived from the instructions to rahula. the first is honesty: the ability to be free of embellishment or denial, adding no interpreta- tion to the disturbance actually present, while at the same time not denying that it’s there. an inte- gral part of this honesty is the ability to see things simply as action and result, without reading into them the conceit “i am.” the second principle is compassion – the desire to end suffering – in that you keep trying to aban- don the causes of stress and disturbance wherever you find them. the effects of this compassion extend not only to yourself but to others as well. When you don’t weigh yourself down with stress, you’re less likely to be a burden to others; you’re also in a better position to help shoulder their burdens when need be. in this way, the principles of integrity and compassion underlie even the most subtle expressions of the wisdom leading to release. this process of developing emptiness of distur- bance is not necessarily smooth or straightforward. it continually requires the strength of will to give up any attachment. this is because an essential step in getting to know the meditative perception as an action is learning to settle into it, to indulge in it – in other words, to enjoy it thoroughly, even Wisdom is wise because it works – it makes a difference in what you do and the happiness that results. What’s striking about this standard for wisdom is how direct and down-to-earth it is.