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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
90 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY It may seem counterintuitive, but when we practice awareness and offer kindness to the uncooked, imperfect aspects of our lives, we actually strengthen our mindfulness. We don’t need to attach to either awakening or non-awakening; neither is anything more than an experience to hold with tender awareness. Awakening and not awakening are two sides of the same coin. They are the same experience. We can’t experience awakening with- out experiencing not awakening. We can’t experience insight without becoming intimately familiar with our conditioned patterns. Thus, in exploring the full range of our life and practice, I wonder what the space between the seven factors of awakening (mindfulness, investigation, effort/energy, joy/rapture, tranquility, concentration, equanimity) and the seven factors of non-awakening (unconscious- ness, boredom, lethargy, depression, agitation, distraction, reac- tivity) might look like. What is the range of experience between unconsciousness and mindfulness? Life is not dual. Mindfulness and unconsciousness are not light switches to be simply turned on or off. What are the subtle levels of gray in between the extremes of these factors? Where does unconsciousness bleed into consciousness? If I can feel that relationship, then I can stay connected to mindfulness even in my lapse of mindfulness. I can stay in alignment with awak- ening even in my failure to be awake. Likewise, what is the incremental set of sensations, thoughts, and feelings between boredom and investigation? Where is the transi- tion between lethargy and energy? How does despair connect to joy and rapture? What are the nuances between the extremes of agita- tion and tranquility? Where is the breadth of landscape bounded by Spiritual practice asks us to include all the contradictions and paradoxes of awakening and not awakening and everything in between.