2023-04-04-Gil-Dharmette-Location for Awareness (2 of 5) The Broad Overview
3:51AM Apr 7, 2023
Hello, and welcome to this second talk. And it involves changing this week, the topic is changing perspectives or locations for how we're aware. And I'll give you somewhat know a known well known Chinese story of a very skilled painter who had a very big canvas. And on that Canvas, he was painting a very realistic life size Tiger. And, and he was so in there with the details of the Tiger doing the doing it all. And then when more or less had finished the tiger, the artists stepped back 10 feet, to look at this big picture what he had done. And it was so realistic, he got afraid and ran away. So when he was close up, the details of it didn't bother him. But stepping away, the full picture seemed too realistic for him. The opposite can also happen, that we can be frightened by being really close up to something. And when we step back, then we are no longer frightened. The I once took my son to the San Francisco Zoo, and there was this big room you will go into and an own under the room was a big cage with very thick, solid bars behind which was a lot lion. And my son was very young, so I was holding him carrying him in there. And the way it worked, you could actually get very close to the lion, I think maybe we're three feet away. And, and looking at it and the lion roared. And the solid bars were between us in the lion. But boy that I don't know if I got afraid. But I certainly got a lot of respect for that lion, so much so that I turned around and left. And from outside the big door going in, I could look back on the lot on the line and you know it just a lie in by in a cage and I felt a bit sorry for it being there. So you know how close we are how far away we are makes a big difference. And so learning to shift our perspectives in some way, sometimes with the help of the imagination, to get a different perspective, either being really close or being a far away today want to emphasize this being far away. Sometimes if we're sitting with a lot of difficult emotions, like a lot of fear, and we are kind of caught in it and concerned with it reacting to it, and it just seems too much in there just seems like we're overwhelmed by it. Sometimes that's because of the perspective in which we're being aware. It's difficult enough what's happening. But we're at the awareness is kind of in the fear caught in it or entangled with it or wedded to it kind of right up against a close. It's almost like the fear takes over the whole room. Because the room of awareness is so small. So with an act of imagination, we can spread and expand our awareness. Maybe imagine that we're standing 10 feet away and looking at ourselves, and from 10 feet away. From there, we can feel the fear. We can see the fear we can be with a fear we can't be with a fear close in. But step back 10 feet. I've known people who you ask them to step back, maybe on the hillside that's maybe 300 yards away or something and look back at themselves. Can you be with your fear from that distance, and they say oh, of what that distance is okay. And then they have a little bit more equanimity, or more space, less reactivity to their fear. And it's a whole different thing. The same thing with pain. Physical pain sometimes is easier to be aware of for quote really close in, which is a topic for tomorrow. Or it can be easier to be aware of if we just open up really wide. And imagine that we're seeing the whole landscape and the fear is just one little piece of it. And then we might realize that how much we were reactive to the fear and kind of living right connected to it kind of as if it was the most important thing. It was a crisis and this has had to be dealt with or something. But to step back, step back, step back, take that backward step, so that we have some distance and some spaciousness around the pain and the pain is still pain, but some of the intensity of it goes away because Some of the intensity of it has to do with our reactivity. You know, pain is a complicated phenomenon. It's not a unitary single thing. Same thing with emotions, that unitary single things, there's a lot that goes into the construction of pain, the constructions of emotions. And some of that has to do with how close in or throw away how much space how little space, we feel like we have for what we're experiencing. So finding ways to open up to be spacious to create lots of room. And one way to do that is to imagine that your, your eyes, your inner eye, your perception, your sense, has taken a backward step really far away. And looking back on you in a situation that this could also be used to be disassociated and aloof from the experience. But that's not what I'm suggesting, what I'm suggesting is getting this bird's eye view of yours, what's happening with you step back enough, so that you can have some non reactivity in the awareness, so you can be less entangled or reactive to it. And then you can start seeing it more clearly. And then you might be able to see not only what's happening and you know, the, the emotion, the pain or whatever, but you might also be able to start kind of working on understanding your relationship to it all the reactivity itself. One of the first times where I had an aha moment around this kind of shifting of perspective, was in when I was in college, I was on the balcony, he was looking back through the window, at some friends talking in the, in the living room of the apartment we were in. And, and I couldn't hear what they're saying, but they were expressing themselves quite vigorously with their hands and their think they were having a good time, but it was like quite an estimated with their bodies. And, and I kind of gaze at them without being able to hear what they said. And I could feel how I was just kind of marveling at their communication and, and kind of appreciating them in a different way in a nicer way maybe, than I had if I had been involved with a conversation or if I had been knowing what they said. And I was thinking about what they said that that distance kind of made a difference, it changed the perspective. And it wasn't like it was a better perspective, it was just a different and it was nice to have that difference. Or I've been in, in groups of people that have been having a lot of difficulty in arguing talking hotly and things. And then for some reason had to step away. And then when I came back, I stood from the distance, watching the group kind of in their whole, you know, upset way kind of talking, and I didn't feel like I was in the upset anymore, I could just kind of watch it. And I could watch it with kindness with compassion and, and take it in and get a bigger picture of what was going on. Oh, I see what's happening here. So and so it was like this. So it's almost like that and looks like they're missing each other and, and I got a whole more useful perspective, than if I'd been in the frame itself. So in your in meditation, this can be done. If you might be in the middle of the fray, you might be so preoccupied and thoughts and stories and what happened earlier today, or what's planning for tomorrow, or the emotions might be quite strong and difficult. And, and if you just kind of show up for your experience with an usual attention you have that might not be the right attention for you to have some kind of balance as you're with it. And you might be too close you'd might be too claustrophobic too tight law not enough space. And, and so learning how to step back, the backward step, the Create space, the the resting back with awareness to make bigger awareness for the situation. Imagining that you're far away, looking down on your on yourself. And then maybe then being able to see what's going on in a clearer, more peaceful way less identified with it. I think that there's no sense of identification where we have a sense that I am the fear I am the story I am the experience tends to make our lives kind of claustrophobic, kind of narrow and tight and sort of stepped back wide enough so that we don't feel like we are these different things and and can be really helpful sometimes in meditation.
Of course it's possible to do that then be disassociated to kind of be aversive and be so far removed from experience, that you might feel a little bit kind of calm. But it's a really disconnecting with the experience. It's not a crime to do that it's okay, it might be habits function as well. But the idea is to find the place of being clearly aware of what's happening the present moment, and be able to do so with some degree of equanimity, some degree of non reactivity. And one of the tools for this is to get the bird's eye view, to get a different perspective. And, and how far back how far away you need that varies from situation to situation. Sometimes you need a lot of distance, like up in the mountain. And in doing so you're enacting a little bit what the meaning of equanimity is. The Pali word for equanimity is Petka. And it means something like having a higher view, an overview, looking from above. And the Buddha actually used that metaphor sometimes of standing on a hill, looking back down at the town and the hustle and bustle of the town, and they hit from the hillside, we're not in the hustle and bustle, we were peaceful and nice. So, so to cultivate equanimity, and non entanglement, non reactivity. And so one of the ways to do that is to imagine you're, you know, stepping away, stepping back getting a distance. So you might try this today in your life, you might, it could be simple, simple things. Like, if you're in a room with people, and if it's, you know, the polite thing, it's not impolite to do so or awkward to do. So, you might sit further away from people than you normally would, and see what it's like to have that kind of more distance view, as opposed to being right in the middle of it. You might, you know, if you're in even in one on one with someone, you know, without the then thinking you're pulling away, you might physically kind of sit little bit differently, so you're a little more distance, and see if that distance creates more non reactivity and space. You might, you know, if you're really caught up in some preoccupation, maybe go out into the open field or a wide park or something where you get help with the edge with the awareness expanding and becoming much more broad and open. So it's easier to feel that there's meant more space and distance from the entanglement that caught up this with what's going on. So find ways of changing the perspective and tour today, their perspective, having kind of a bird's eye view the large view of the situation. And see what the how that helps you. And also see how it begins helping you understand that you have a choice of the perspective that you use in being mindful. Some people never occurred to them, they have a choice, they're mindful. But there's mindfulness, same way every time and maybe that same way is not the best medicine for some situations we're in. So, thank you very much, and may your capacity for awareness bring you much delight