2020-06-05: Seven Factors of Awakening: Tranquility and Ease
12:58AM Jun 6, 2020
So, good day and greetings. And today's the fifth day of doing these talks on the seven factors of awakening. And I'm very aware of what's happening in the world as we, as I talk about these topics. And for people who are concerned with the state of affairs in the world, people, it might seem that doing meditation and focusing and becoming peaceful or at ease, is counterintuitive at a time that there's so much distress and conflict and suffering going on all around and but actually, I think it's more needed. Because there are two things. There's what we do, and how we are as we do it. And the specialty of Buddhist meditation practice is to cultivate that how we are, to cultivate a how that allows us to go out into the world in an effective way. It's not any different than people on the front line of healthcare, frontline of social justice, doing self care to better be able to go out there and do the work they're doing. To eat well, to drink well, to sleep well. In the same way we want to meditate well, so that the inner heart, the inner life, is in a good balance place to be able to engage with the world around us. Because how we are is a big part of what we spread into the world. And if we don't take care of ourselves and we end up acting from frustration or anger or hate or greed or even our confusion. That's kind of a little bit what spreads outwards. But if we could act with and we see lots of examples of this, those of us who are following the news of how this spreads and it's contagious, but if people but to come from places of non-hate, non-greed, non-delusion, to come with a kind of peace and kindness and love and tranquility, so that the best parts of us can act in favor and benefit the benefit of the world. So, this is kind of what we're doing here this week with the seven factors of awakening.
And today we come to the fifth factor, usually called tranquility. The actual fuller meaning of this is tranquility of the body and it's the first of the seven Factors of awakening, which are the calming factors, so says tranquility, concentration, Samadhi, and equanimity. Sometimes it said that the those three, the calming ones, should be in balance with the activating factors of awakening. And that investigation, energy and joy are the ones that bring more energy. And so sometimes there's a kind of a balancing act that goes on in practice of bringing those into balance, but also as practice deepens, is a natural quieting of mental activity. So the the activity of investigation, of discernment, the activity of effort, activity of even the joy begins to quiet down. It has a lot to do as we learn to just be mindful of what is and just see, it's kind of like making breathing room space for experience. And we're not activating, reactivating the mind or continuing to be busy doing and there's a natural calming and calming and at some point that calming of the system gets experienced as a very deep physical tranquility, tranquility of the body. And, and it can be experienced sometimes as a, as a fusing of almost like ambrosia, almost like a like medicine or something healing that's spreading through the body of some kind of peacefulness or ease or tranquility and it's kind of like for me at least sometimes like I've dipped myself into a very, very hot day, dip myself into a very cool refreshing pool of water. And it just feels so good how it feels in the body.
And so tranquility of the body, this tranquility as a factor of awakening. I like to use the word ease, sometimes. I find the word ease kind of is broader or encompasses a little bit more than the idea of tranquility. Because the sense of ease for me as I use the word for myself is that I can be easy. I can have ease with how there is unease. And there are times I feel unease. I sit down to meditate and I'm uneasy about something and then to hold that with ease, to not make it a problem, to not be trying to fix everything, but to kind of in a sense to open to it and allow it and and let the whole system, the Dharma system that we are, the the inner kind of psychophysical system processes we are. Allow them to settle on their own. We don't have to always be so involved with the doing of practice. And that's partly why, you know, we're in the fifth part of this, these factors of awakening, all these things there's momentum being built, the mindfulness is getting stronger. The differentiation of states. The differentiation of Dharma is of the second factor, become stronger. The ability to be really have a kind of satisfying effort, engagement really here becomes kind of more established. And there's a sense of, yes, goodness, joy to be here, just it feels good. Finally, to be rooted in the present moment. And all those together are factors, conditions that allow for a very deep, letting go or settling. A feeling of safety and ease like this is a good place to be. This is the good place to be. So I'm so I'm doing so for me the word for tranquility factor of awakening is ease, and to say that word ease periodically. And I kind of dislike these words when they're kind of open ended. There's not like a agenda. There's not a, a expectation from something out of them. But rather, it's more like saying the word and seeing, making room for what responds to it. It's I liken it sometimes to dropping a pebble into a pond. And then the pond allows the rippling of water to go out from that where the pebble fell in. And so to drop the pebble of these words into our hearts, and then make room kind of allow and notice how we respond to that word. But because independent maybe of what we think about these words, are meanings of these words, our subconscious, our heart might have its own response to it, that maybe is to do has to do with memories from early in life or experiences we've had or something something. And maybe you've met someone who seems particularly tranquil and calm and at ease, and just just kind of having that word open up and you kind of feel maybe the presence of that person and so, to just drop ease and even when there's unease, just drop the word ease. And perhaps you'll notice that the struggle with the unease, maybe lets up, the unease doesn't let up but the struggle with it, the reactivity to it, can let up and get go.
The movement of tranquility is a so joy is considered to be certainly wonderful and, and this fourth factor of awakening. And it's kind of a little bit of noteworthy. I don't know if it's a paradox or but, that Buddhism puts a tremendous amount of importance on being present for suffering. So much so that I think there should be a bumper sticker that says, I stopped for suffering, just not to suffer better, but so that we can really work, address it and find a way to beyond suffering. But that process that Buddhism offers that practice is in fact one that brings a lot of joy and happiness and well being. The path to the end of suffering includes happiness.
So the fourth factor of awakening is joy. But joy is a little bit of an active activity, in relationship to happiness. And so as as the system in meditation moves from a kind of joy and delight and just being present, and becomes calmer and more settled, this tranquility factor is associated strongly with a embodied feeling of well being of happiness, very sublime, very contented, very kind of settled, a feeling of happiness. And some people because it's so physical, call it a kind of a pleasure. But the word pleasure doesn't really represent well, for me the sense of real contentment and well being this comes with. So this tranquility factor is not just a matter of relaxing and relaxing the body in the muscles and all that, but it's really allowing the whole system to tap into a deeper currents of well being. And, the remarkable things about these factor of awakenings is that they are natural faculties within us. They are natural capacities that can get be unleashed, unleashed or be recognized or allowed to germinate and grow into flower. It's not an engineering task. It's not something you have to do or expect. It's a lot to do with being here. The first factor of awakening being here, and allowing things to show themselves, allowing them to be here. And as the five hindrances abate, as the preoccupations abate, there is something it isn't just simply letting go of our clinging. It's then letting go and making room for this amazing goodness that's here. The amazing beauty that exists in each one of us, that amazing Dharma process that moves towards greater and greater freedom through these wonderful qualities.
So, here ... what ... this ... yes. And now today, ease. And then tomorrow and Sunday, Saturday and Sunday, we'll do the last two factors of awakening. And so we'll meet at the same time 7am in the morning, same schedule that we usually have during these weekdays and I'm looking forward to the chance to complete these factors of awakenings with you. Thank you very much.