2022-11-02-Similes for Meditation (3 of 5) Still Water
5:56PM Dec 15, 2022
The following talk was given at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California, please visit our website at audio dharma.org.
Good morning and good day. So here we come to the third talk about the Buddha's use of similes, to augment his instructions or to provide instructions in meditation. And some of the instructions have to do with also describing what can happen as we meditate. And so we can recognize it. And somehow, in recognizing it, the Buddha talks a lot about abiding in experience, into entering and abiding. And this idea of, of abiding, resting in or dwelling in or living within, I believe it's supposed to have connotations of being at ease, being somewhat still kind of just contented, happy to be present for what's here, as a place of abiding a place of resting, standing being. And so to recognize the states that are useful to abide, and, and, and these abiding quality, it's a metaphor to abide or to dwell. But I think it has connotations of being at home and the experience being where one supposed to be, and being at ease there. And so by recognizing the these experiences, windows were to abide, and to convey those experiences of meditation, the Buddha, provoked and to provide instructions, the Buddha uses similes. And as I said, in the, in the meditation, there's a lot of similarities with that the Buddha where the Buddha uses water, and a different symbol, these water represents different things. But often in the context of meditation, it seems like water represents awareness, and mindfulness. And so depending on how strong the meditation is, how centered we are, the mindfulness feels differently. When we begin practice, mindfulness is awareness that we bring to our experience might be intermittent. And we might have a moment of being mindful, and then we wander off and a moment again. And so the Buddha talks about sprinkling water into the fifth, and the simile from Monday into the powder, but it's a sprinkling. And as I said earlier, I love the idea of sprinkling, because it's kind of an a hot day, it's kind of refreshing to be sprinkled with water to have a water sprinkler, kind of kind of touch you and cool you down. And we're standing in a shower, it's kind of lots of sprinkles pouring through pouring down and it can be very nice to stand there and in the shower sometimes, or the way that that Buddhist monastics will sprinkle water that's been blessed. So they're doing blessings and sprinkling it on people's heads. It's kind of a really fun, a ritual ceremony that they do. And so they're sprinkling. And so, you know, if there's not just simply bring attention back, bring the attention back, wander away, bring it back, but it's bringing it back. And it's nice way where we're kind of like sprinkling or blessing, refreshing our experience with awareness, the best we can. As these drops become more continuous and come together, then the metaphor is that of a lake that has a current flowing through it delightful current flowing through it from the under underwater spring. And here, there's still activity and movement in the awareness, we're maybe still applying ourselves, we're still there's kind of an active way in which awareness is functioning within us. And we kind of feel the dinette dinette dynamism of it, maybe the dynamic quality and then, but then as the as the we get more concentrated, more settled, resting, abiding more deeply in the experience. Then the the metaphor that simulated Buddha uses is that now still have a lake but this time the lake has no current no movement in it. So there's the lake now is completely Still, and and I think of this lake is very clear, and very still very peaceful. I've seen big mountain lakes early in the morning, before the birds are up, but the light is up. And that Dawn and as being on the edge of these lakes and before the wind begins and seeing the water at the top of the water, so still and quiet, maybe reflecting the mountains and distance. And there's something so piece generating. And by watching that I just love sitting there and just looking at this peaceful, quiet morning setting the scenery where the day hasn't begun and everything is so quiet and still. So the Buddha uses this idea of still quiet pond lake for how sometimes meditation can be experienced. And, and so the mind has no sense of movement in anymore. And awareness has no sense of movement, that it's not being applied or brought to anything or flowing through us. It just is and things occur within it. And the metaphor that Buddha uses for this, the he talks about this still very still quiet lake. And he says that within it. lotus flowers have different colors and densifies I forget to white and red and blue and black. And I don't know what the colors are that Lotus is can have. But these low lotus flowers are floating, not just the top of the water. But in the his metaphor, they're floating underneath the water. So I don't know if Lotus is flowers can float underneath water, maybe it's the buds before they've opened. But because the water is clear, these lotus flowers are just floating there, each one separate from the other kind of just floating by itself, in this beautiful body of water. And this represents the different colors represents all the different experiences we can have, as we're sitting in meditation, that each experience each individual detail kind of is allowed to exist there by itself, each thing is allowed to be just itself without any references, or tied to or caught up in the past or the future, about comparisons to other things that are not it. And it just allowed to float. And so agitation could just float there and be a lotus flower sensation, so of the body kind of feeling just floating there. And, and everything just seems to float just each thing by itself. And we're not doing anything with it or tying it connecting it to anything else. So just allow it to be itself. And this kind of idea of allowing each thing to be itself that pristine self as it actually is. I think for me, it gets conveyed in this simile of the lotus flowers floating in this very still lake. The water here is not just awareness, but it's also awareness saturated or filled with a kind of joy and delight. And so if you have joy and delight, joy and happiness, the the you know, there's strong awareness that comes along with it and the distinction between this joy and delight and awareness. Maybe it's not so obvious, or maybe it is maybe joy and delight is some of the lotus flowers. And, but the idea is that the water, the water, touches everything. And the lotus flower, no part of the lotus flower is not touched by the water. And in this metaphor, the Buddha says no part of the lotus flower that is not touched by the peace, that tranquility, that contentment, the joy, the happiness of of that that's a present in this state is not that easy to just suddenly feel and experience the mind the awareness or being as still quiet Lake. But when it does happen, then the instructions are twofold is to abide in it rest in it. And very gently allow the the well-being the joy, the happiness, the sometimes the rapture, the bliss that's there to allow it to spread and suffuse throughout the body, throughout everything. So nothing that occurs is not touched by awareness by by this well being that can be there. So
So, the Buddha provides these metaphors, these similes, and, and they're kind of pointing to a, they're illustrating the kind of experience that Kant can come. As the mind gets settled, focused, quiet still, when we started living in awareness, rather than having to only sprinkle awareness, remind ourselves to bring more to it and more to it. And so, it is kind of points to a possibility and potential we have that. And these beautiful similes, maybe it's inspiring to think about this to the possibility of abiding resting in awareness, not contending with anything and not resisting with anything, but meeting everything with clear awareness. And letting that build and develop over time of the sprinkles that we do slowly increase the metaphor, the simile before was that of you know, the soap powder coming together and holding together. And other simile that buddho uses, also drops is the rain falling on the mountainside. And if the rain becomes large enough, you know, continuous long enough, and the water kind of sits on the surface of the soil that starts to roll and drops meet each other and become stream little stream lights. And then the stream the stream that's become streams become creeks becomes rivers. But as they go down the mountainside, they, they first go into a small lake, and then a bigger lake. And then the river goes into a bigger lake. And each Lake is gets bigger, gets quieter and Stiller because there's, you know, the walk the lake is so big compared to the amount of water coming in, until finally the water ends up in the ocean, which is in this assembly is the greatest peace most peaceful place if you go a few feet under the surface of the water. So so the sprinkles, the drops drop by drop, we practice our mindfulness, that's our job is to provide the drops. And if we keep doing it, the drops join and come together. And we start getting a sense and a feel for something vast and large and beautiful. So that was my attempt to make these similes come alive for you a little bit. So maybe you can see if something in your experience corresponds to the sale similes, and that maybe there's something about water that's evocative and interesting is as a simile, for awareness for, for mindfulness, that can change the quality, the characteristics of how you practice awareness, how you practice mindfulness practices, if you're bringing moist, flowing water water to your experience, where there's no resistance to what is but it's that there's a flowing around and through and over and under. Or, or if it's not flowing, it may be it's still and just holds everything in the stillness of a quiet mind. So thank you, and there's more many more similes that the Buddha gives. So we'll continue tomorrow. Thank you