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good for nothing

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(This follows the brief conversation at the start of yesterday’s post.) From time to time I’m able to access a still point deep inside the breath and briefly rest where there’s no worry and no duality; where life and death appear to converge. But the instant I get there, I pull back as if stung by an angry wasp.

Why is that? Is being ‘whole’ simply too much to bear for a bruised ego? Is a psyche infused with a Judeo-Christian world view afraid to re-enter paradise because of Adam & Eve’s original sin? Or perhaps it’s about relinquishing control, as Rob Preece suggests.

The point of letting go is a special moment. It is the still, quiet pause of death. There is no movement, no sound to stir the quiet tranquility, like a silent moment on the lake when nothing stirs and there is not a breath of breeze. At this moment there is no horror because there is no one to be horrified. There is no despair because the worst has already passed and we have given up. In this moment there is only quiet presence and rest. It is a powerful moment to meditate upon the clarity of our innate nature. We can taste our essential totality.

All this speculating is great fun, intellectually. And then we return to attending to what is right in front of us with this breath one and the one after that. “Meditation,” Japanese Zen master Kodo Sawaki Roshi (1880-1965) says, “is good for nothing.” It has no aim, no product, no outcome. Simply awareness of whatever presents itself.

source: Preece, R. (2006). The wisdom if imperfection: the challenge of individuation in Buddhist life. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, p. 245. image: “Adam and Eve” by Hans Baldung Grien (1480-1545).

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2 responses »

  1. I appreciate hearing your perspective (and those of others) on this experience, Peter. I have often experienced a spiraling physical sensation during meditation, in which I am almost floating or ungrounded in some way. I am sometimes able to stay in this state in observance rather than jumping immediately back to my physical presence on the chair or the cushion. But that moment of self-awareness definitely brings a different quality to the sensation of being between states or planes of existence.

    Reply
  2. I mention this topic to my friend Arnie during our weekly cafe session. He reminded me how easy it is to access that “still point.” Apparently he and I had experimented before. Right there in the cafe he asked me to close my eyes and turn inwards. Instantly I sank deeply … and spooked right back.

    The teachers warn us not to get too hung up on any state, high, low, still, restless, or otherwise … but to be curious about whatever comes. Beware of becoming attached to outcomes (->suffering).

    Reply

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