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Buddhadharma : Spring 2019
98 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY Texts from numerous Buddhist traditions describe the benefits of the natural world as a powerful support for meditation. In the Ariyapariyesana Sutta, the Buddha himself tells his disciples, “Seek- ing the supreme state of sublime peace, I wandered ... until ... I saw a delightful stretch of land and a lovely woodland grove, and a clear flowing river with a delightful forest, so I sat down thinking, ‘Indeed, this is an appropriate place to strive for the ultimate realization of ... Nirvana.’” Many other examples in Buddhist texts emphasize silence, solitude, and removing oneself from the stimulation of daily life as necessary conditions for allowing the mind to settle and relax. But the natural world can do far more than provide us with a peaceful environment for meditation. As we develop our practice and attention, we can engage with the natural world as an interactive medium within which we can access and abide in the nature of the mind. Encountering the natural world through our sense perceptions returns us again and again to open awareness—a state of being that is fresh, alive, easeful, and awake. Consider a flower. When we see the bright color of a flower or observe its intricate structure, we experience its directness and sim- plicity. We see how the flower abides in space as a vivid presence. In the instant we first see it, the flower transmits itself fully, completely, to our perception. Buddhist Abhidharma teachings tell us direct perception takes place in every moment of sensory experience but is so quickly layered over with the conceptual mind’s stories, thoughts, and ideas that we usually miss it. Unfiltered vision is genuine, naked vision stripped of concepts and ideas. Experiencing the phenomenal world, the natural world, in this way, we see that everything is continuously permeated with presence,