2020-03-27: Viriya (5 of 5) Effortless Effort
11:44PM Jun 19, 2020
Continuing on this week's theme of the energy factor the effort factor of the five faculties the last aspect of effort factor faculty minds might be called effortless effort. There comes a time when it just feels like what is carrying us in meditation. What's carrying us in our life is a very wholesome and healthy momentum, effort engagement, alive news, vitality That doesn't seem to be something we are making effort to do. So in that sense, it's effortless from the point of view of our, in our work. But it might take a lot of you know, maybe it takes a lot of calories are something that is something's happening, something's working. The analogy that I have is for this is when I used to run a lot I remember that when I began running, the first I don't know how far 50 hundred feet at least there would be these signals coming out of my body. That was basically saying, stop, don't do this. This is too difficult. And, and, you know, I just kind of ran anyway knowing that I didn't have to listen to them. Some of it was maybe I don't know what it was just making that effort just was just unpleasant. But then as I began running and kept going and going, I would get into the groove I would get into the rhythm of running. And and it would feel like at some point that the running was effortless. And we just the body was running, just running was running itself. And, and it was a great joy. And I'm sure I was expending a lot of calories. So there's a lot of energy being expended. But the involvement, the harmony, the attunement, the relaxing into it, the rhythm of it. It felt just effortless, it was just happening on its own. And I think a lot of activities can be that way and maybe sports that can be that feeling sometimes or maybe playing an instrument or Doing something that we enjoy and really get absorbed and doing. Same thing can happen in meditation, that really give ourselves wholeheartedly to it to just really place ourselves in the middle of our experience. And really, this is what we're doing. Not an easy task meditations harder than things which grab our interest in, you know, are fascinating in and of themselves. But, but that's part of the benefit of meditation is that we're not being we're discovering how to really be present really be here in a full complete way, without needing the extra help of fascinating things, interesting things, things which, you know, bring us a lot of joy or bring us a lot of some kind of satisfaction or something, or things which are dangerous. And so we're really engaged in very nicely present because there's some just the right amount of danger. But we're just doing this with just being very simple and ordinary and, and working through all the different kind of activities of the mind, the heart that gets in the way of just that full embodiment of just being here in a simple way. Not chasing after what interests us or our desires or running away from it, we don't want just here. So it's a difficult task, but to have that full embodiment and presence in meditation, so that when it really happens, that becomes effortless effort. It just seems like we're just here.
And, and that's a wonderful stage of meditation is very satisfying in and of itself. And it's creates a wonderful platform for a deeper and deeper layers of letting go. If it's if there's something besides us operating, if it's effortless, then it starts becoming clear. That the ego the self identity that contraction around self. And so me being the agent is not needed as much and we cut loosening up and loosening up this often this tight grip that self has on on us is effortless effort space can just kind of help us to relax and soften that. And this topic of effort that we've done this week. There's many perspectives on it. But one of the interesting perspectives is it's just an ongoing process of letting go. And, and with letting go comes benefits, something arises that so you could talk about what arises and what comes into place as we practice. But it's nice because they end of the path and Buddhism is a very deep form of letting go, release. It's kind of interesting to go back over these five days to see how each of these steps This represents a kind of letting go. The initiating effort is the effort that has to do we have to let go of something that we're doing in order to start fresh, start new start now. So even if it's just starting to meditate to go sit down to meditate, we have to let go of some of the activities of the day that we're doing. You know, stop looking at emails, stop, you know, do something or other and then sit down. So we're letting go of something in daily life, to sit down and be here. Once we're here initiating effort, is to let go of the stream of thinking that we're caught up in and involved in that interferes or makes it impossible to really be present in a full way. So we're letting go the initiating effort involves letting go of some degree of preoccupation. As we settle down further than this right endeavor aspect of effort where we can differentiate between what is healthy, wholesome, helpful to be involved in and what is not. And then we let go of what is unhealthy unwholesome, and not letting go, even if it's not actively pushing it away or letting go of it, if it's just letting it be, you know, in a field of friendly awareness, where we're letting go of is our clinging to it, there's our involvement with it. And that's maybe enough. So the thoughts we might be having might still be there, but revealing kind of hold them in a very broad mind where we're not actually involved anymore. And so there's a kind of letting go there and then and then you know, and then some of the host some things that arise sometimes gives to rise on their own and which gets to the third you know, the third effort which is persistent effort, persistence, tend to relax the effort. That also is a kind of letting go of the things that come along that want to pull us out of the flow the practice, it's possible to notice a thought arise and find just be so attentive, you see the beginning of interest in it. And the mind says, No thank you, and you stay in the flow of awareness. And no other thing comes no thank you stay in the flow of awareness. When I really been in the flow of awareness, there was times where I felt that, that there was a rubber band attached to my thoughts. And my thoughts would kind of wander off because I was wandering off of my thoughts, the rubber band would get stretched, and at some point, we just pull me right back into the present moment. And so it's kind of this kind of some kind of, you know, be kept, keep coming back, keep coming back, involves some letting go. And then this Dharma energy that can arise that something else is beginning to carry us and to move through us and then letting go of what fears without letting go of maybe the idea that I have to do it, it's always up to me and me myself in mind. But making space for something to move we let go of what crowds the space we let go of the idea of I'm I'm in charge here and allow the Dharma energy to begin to move through us. And then this effortless effort is a place where there can be a lot of letting go the same thing of self effortless effort is almost like a variation or continuation of Dharma energy that can arise.
But it's also can come to a place of a lot of equanimity, a lot of non reactivity, a lot of non resistance, non preference, non attachment that goes on. And we get a feeling for this kind of equanimity and non attachment, that now we kind of hide very sensitive to the smallest movement to the subtlest movements of attachment. to really allow this effortless effort to kind of flower, there's even more letting go more letting go. And then at some point, the, the, the really the benefit of really getting in the stream of effortless effort of equanimity is that there are the forms of release of letting go, which correspond to awakening and Buddhism is not something that we can do. It's not something we say, Okay, now I'm going to be awake now. I'm going to let go once and for all the right way. It's something that there has to be a lot of, not self, a lot of non involvement, a lot of non reactivity, a lot of not making anything, creating anything, thinking about things, making itself resisting anything, a lot, a lot of this kind of effortless effort, lot of equanimity and, and so There's kind of a lot of letting go has has brought us to that point. And it's kind of like an ancient analogy. It's kind of like a rope that over time and weathering has gotten thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner and thinner. And then at some point, they just have one little thread holding that rope together. And then as some point, that last thread just, lets go, the last holding on attachment, let's let's go and then this effortless effort takes a whole different quality and this certain kind of very profound way. This system our psychophysical system recognizes that nothing more needs to be done. no effort needs to be expended of a certain kind. That the the effort to search for freedom, the efforts effort to Move along a path of liberation, to some degree recognize the place in us where nothing to attain nothing to do nothing to be. There's this absence of beautiful absence of, of so many things that crowd us and limit us and propel us to all this stuff. And we started recognizing that in us there exists this place of no effort, a particular kind of place, not lethargy, or dullness or inertia, but no effort. no effort is needed. Nothing needs to be done, nothing needs to be attained. And maybe initially, it's not a dramatic place. It's just like a, it's clear enough that that's a reference point. And that too, is a reference point then to recognize better and better all the places where we still have work to do all the places is where the practice still needs to unfold and develop and grow. And then we still come back to this initiating effort, we always become beginners, starting over, starting over, not trying to hold on to some higher state or some great thing. That's the ideal. But when we come back to be a beginner again, to start over again, initiating effort, hopefully, the degree to which we let go, allows us to do that with greater equanimity, greater, less self greater ease, greater just appreciation and joy, at the very opportunity to make effort to practice. We're very fortunate to have a practice very fortunate to be able to make this effort and, and then may it be that we can make this effort for forever together and, and find a wonderful way in which we all support this world. To become a safer and happier and freer place for all beings. So thank you. And
since it's Friday, I had this idea that those of you who would like to stay on that I'm happy to try with the chatbox to answer some questions if any of you have and before I maybe answer some questions, or maybe some of you are typing one is I want to make one announcement that might be relevant, maybe for you but maybe for you know, other people. Because many people are now sheltered in place. Some place they call it much more dramatic terms, shelter in place, maybe it's a little bit mild compared to what's really needed now. Some places they call it more lockdown and, but the in this time and Maybe people who've wanted to learn meditation for a long time, would like to kind of devote some time to it. And so I thought I would offer I'm going to offer a, a two week series every day on introduction to mindfulness meditation kind of based on the five week course that I do. But it'll be it's going to be over nine days, Monday through Friday, next week and the following week, Monday through Thursday. And so if you know, anyone who might be interested in meditation has lots of time who would like to do something nice like this every day to kind of get into flow a bit. You might tell them at 930 1030, California time and there's more information on the website.
So Chris asks, How much media Do you consume about the virus? I actually don't do a lot Maybe read two or three articles a day. But I'm certainly not keeping up with how much would be useful to know. Or I don't know if useful is the right word that I could know. I feel like I pick up plenty of what's happening. And and I feel like I know enough to really be concerned and and to be have a lot of empathy and care for what's going on in the world. I talk to people who are affected by the all the changes that are going on with the virus and what's happening and, and it's pretty dramatic what's happening all over the world. And so I guess the question is, how much media do I consume I'm trying to find a balance. between how much would be useful for me to know, both as a person but also as a teacher who's responsive to a community of people who are maybe wanting some relevant teaching at this time, finding a balance of that, versus the other activities that I do and, and a balance between the impact those things have on me and how to stay balanced and not be some consumed. So I try to do the news and wise ways I try to do time in places where it feels like I can read the news and in a balanced, relaxed way itself, I try to do it in a way that I either take it in small dosages, so I can reflect on it and live with it. Or I try to do it in times where I have my powers of reflection are strong. And so I kind of go on to so I can really kind of reflect on what I'm reading and questioning it and wonder about it and Things like that. So that's my maybe an adequate answer to your question. And someone asks, Will we meet at 7am pacific time next week of this weekend. So we're not going to meet Saturday and Sunday. But my plan is indefinitely now to continue these 7am sittings and talks. And we're doing this five week series. Now in the five faculties. We've covered the first two faculties and next week I'll talk about five aspects of mindfulness.
Do we need to know what phase of effort we're at at any given moment? If so, helps. It so Oh, How do I get back up there? My my computer's not quite cooperating here. Here. Yes, if so what's balanced away? Do we do that without getting caught up in that? It's a great question. I think that if your practice is instance, sincere and you're really just engaged and careful, devoted mindfulness and making space for the situation and really being present, staying with your breath, developing your practice, and you feel encouraged to do that, then there's no you don't have to know where you're at how far you've gotten measuring yourself and all that. It'll all unfold by itself. It'll all reveal itself to you. There is some advantages sometimes to identify where we are in practice, because then sometimes we can open to that phase little bit more fully. We could allow for it, we can appreciate it. We can value it. So there is a value to it. That's why I'm teaching this And, but you know, we have to be very careful not to try too hard not to spend a lot of time measuring ourselves, sit down and follow three breaths and say, you know, how far have I gotten my kids in the backseat? You know, are we there yet? You want to be very patient with this practice? And, and perhaps if we had, you know, six days to do the effort, and one of the one of the efforts would have been patient effort as well that could have done
what should I focus on when I'm having a very difficult meditation session? And I cannot quiet my mind or focus on the present moment, breath at all. Yeah, that's a common experience for all of us. What do we do then? There's a few things and you could do might decide to do it. If you're really kind of your problem. Everything that you want to do is keep developing mindfulness, practice mindfulness, you might just turn towards the very difficulties you're having. And let them be the focus of mindfulness. So not to let them be a distraction, but let them become the meditation. Don't try to quiet your mind, but do mindfulness of a noisy mind of a busy mind. And, and you know, you don't have to be the, the breath doesn't have to be the subject of meditation. The present moment does. But now it could be in the present moment with the busy agitated mind, really feel the agitation, kind of and that this is where mental noting can be helpful. The mind is out of control. And you notice Oh, wow, this is a mind that's out of control. It's really busy, really active. And you keep kind of saying that gently to yourself until you kind of like pull yourself Out of the entanglement with it, kinda like you step back and you really see or this is what's happening. This is what it's like. And a little bit like this, what I do sometimes when my mind is really busy thinking and I can't really seem to get settled down, I'll tell myself though I say to myself the word here, he or he, just here. And when I say the word, I kind of like open my awareness up to receive and recognize what is here. It's very permissive. It's very allowing I don't have an agenda, what's supposed to be recognized here. And because I'm so caught up in things, that here opens up just for a second or something to what's here. But often, then I'll notice Oh, here is a mind that's out of control. Here is a mind that's troubled. And I'll try in that moment that can stay without us feel and recognize it. But I'm kind of allowing myself to be the way I am, but I'm stepping back And recognizing it here. And I'll do it again here. And I do it repeatedly here, very permissive, which is to really recognize what's there. And after maybe five minutes of doing that, generally, then I begin to loosen the grip in my mind on what I'm thinking what I'm doing that then I can kind of, then it begins to soften and relax. And then I might start focusing my breathing, because then I have the kind of capacity to really stay there and develop that. One of the interesting things to do when the mind is out of control, and we're having a lot of difficulty of something is to identify if there's an emotion, which is fueling at all. And then to do mindfulness of emotions with it, to really feel where it is in the body and hold it and all that things that I'll talk about in this intro meditation class coming up next week. So hopefully that's, you know, a nice answer and And, oh, how does the last one I'll do here? How to practice in the middle of the night when raw fear arises. Yes, that's easy to have raw fear, especially with what's happening in the world these days and, and some people will wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety and fear. Because you know, the usual distractions usually things preoccupations of the day and are quieted down enough that as we sleep, it seems like we touch into some of the deeper layers of what's really operating what's really going on for us. And, and fear is one of those things and it's not uncommon for people to wake up in the middle of the night and feel with anxiety or fear or something. And so, Monday Like I've had that sometimes when I have a concern for a particular relative who, who has challenges. I seem to wake up at two o'clock in the morning, if I wake up at two o'clock in the morning, I know there's a little layer of anxiety for me because around this relative I'm thinking about. So what to do about when fear arises, depends a little bit how strong it is. Raw fear is a strong term. One of the possibilities is to start mindfulness practice,
it might be helpful to actually sit up in bed if you can, or go to your meditation cushion. Because the intentionality of really taking an upright posture or sitting posture, rather than just continue to lay in bed gives a little bit of freedom that kind of breaks a little bit the crust of the fear. It's kind of like you've kind of empowering yourself a little bit to sit there in a clear conscious way and, and, and then to feel the fear Unless it kind of triggers more fear, to feel the fear, to allow yourself to allow yourself to be afraid. It's not a mistake to be afraid it's uncomfortable. But if you're only comfortable when you're only free, when things are comfortable, you're not really free. So what does it mean to be free while being afraid? Is that possible? Is it possible to kind of somehow step back from the fear enough that you aren't afraid? there is fear here. And that's fear, if it's not you afraid but if it's you that you're afraid of so but hard to kind of offer care to the fear. But if you really see its fear as happening here, then you can bring care to it. You can bring kindness to it, you can offer a safety to it. You don't want to fix it, you don't want to get rid of it. It's, you don't want to see it as wrong or a problem which is kind of making space and feel and allow what's going on. And allow yourself to begin experiencing the layers and dimensions of the fear, the beliefs that are operating the memories, it's triggering, maybe it's connected to early fears we've had in our life that had been reactivated to feel the body to feel what our relationship to is to fear, and so forth like that. So and then if none of that seems to help, and then the fear is really strong, then you want to try to do something that's grounding. And go get some warm milk, have some food, maybe even take a warm shower. Sometimes journaling can help kind of ground you and do something, distract yourself from it, read a book, do something that kind of keep gets you out of the grip of it so that you have more useful presence. And finally, about fear like this, please, you know, please try to hold yourself with a lot of compassion these days, lots and lots of care and love and attention to yourself and respect. This is not an easy time that we're going through. And, but it is a very important time for us to really have a chance to work with and look at and, and resolve some of the deeper spiritual psychological issues that are part of the path of liberation. But seldom gets stirred up this far this easily. So rather than seeing you know, the feelings we might have with this phase that we're in, of our global society, someone on a path of liberation into Okay, this is where the practices now it's time to really practice with this. This is I've been waiting for this for a long time. Now I'm ready to work with this fear. So I hope that's helpful. And I want to thank you all for coming here and being part of this and I hope that this supports you and, and I look forward to doing this with you again on Monday. Thank you