2021-11-14 Independence, Freedom, and Peace
6:52PM Nov 14, 2021
So, hello, everyone. Welcome . Nice to have you here. And hopefully it's also nice for those of you here that it's nice, nice to be with people. Some of us, it's been an unusual thing to do. Welcome. And for those of you on YouTube, I hope that someday we could be together, someday you'll have maybe far away, you'll visit computer time. See, we have people who do that periodically they did used to be before the pandemic seemed like the most every Sunday, someone would come up and say I'm visiting. I've been listening for a long time. So it's very nice. So the topic for today is little bit following up with a talk I gave maybe four or five weeks ago and Sunday. There wasn't preparation for the 7am sittings I was doing which was focusing on these different aspect, basic aspects of instructions for mindfulness meditation that we teach here. And at that time, I said that, something like that, that the basic instructions are not only basic for beginners, but they're also basic for people who would like to consider themselves advanced. And for those who are in between the two, that the basic instructions of the practice is the same. In fact, the Buddha, when he talks about this kind of thing, he said that before the first level of first experience of realization, the first level of awakening that people can experience. And after the practice is the same, that what we what we're doing, the basic practice doesn't change. And so in a sense, in order to doing the practice, it doesn't matter whether you're enlightened or not. You still the same practice, and even go so far as to say when people become fully enlightened, Even Buddha's arahants, they still do the same practice for their nirodha, to be able to be at ease in this world, call it a pleasant abiding here now. And also, to encourage other people to practice. So the practice is the same before and after enlightenment isn't that kind of nice. So you don't have to worry about enlightenment when you're practicing. Because you know, what it is going to do, you have to do the practice anyway. Before that, after you do it. And, but it does use it does some some good to the practice. And when when when someone has a certain degree of clarity of letting go of releasing something that's been they've been attached to for a long time, and it's clear enough and strong enough, then after that, they have a reference point. For the practice that's different. So the practice is the same, but the reference point for the practice changes. And the ancient language that languages were now what the practice is based on this reference point. And there are three reference points that they talked about, that can happen. And, and this is where the difficulty of translating words from an Indic language to English, because the words and India are really rich. I mean, there's a long history of it, and they're I think they're inspiring words. It's not just an Indian Buddhism, but an Indian language, even to the modern world, sometimes. They're rich and associations. Whereas when you take and translated literally a day glish most of people who only know English are not gonna feel Oh, wow. Yeah, this is cool. This is wonderful. They're gonna go what what, you know, sometimes the best of it, right? This could be different. So, I'll tell you the words in Pali Indic language first you most of you won't have any made any sense of this, but some of you might have an Indian background. So it's viveka The raga and nirodha.
So the practice becomes based on those three viveka. The raga nirodha. So, so the way that they're translated usually in English that is not going to inspire you. I think maybe maybe you will, I shouldn't be speaking for you. So maybe you'll be really jazzed to hear this seclusion, dispassion and cessation is that kind of okay? Or is that like wow, you know, you're paying attention like this is like a fantastic seclusion. I can't wait. More seclusion, the pandemic has been good enough. Good. You know, that hasn't been long and long enough, let's go really do it. It just justifies the the pandemic seclusion. So, so so. So I don't think it really works in English to get a sense of how inspiring This is. And to hear that after some level of spiritual maturity in Buddhism, your practice gets based on those three, I think English speakers doesn't really work. But I think that what might work that I think is not a literal translation, but I think is a fair translation for these three terms. Is independence, freedom, and peace. That I think English has to some people have some people even have emotional relationship to those to those three, and that now they speak a little bit more to people economic English speaking. Maybe you grew up in an English speaking culture. And in some of those words, you do not they're quite powerful United States. And then when I when I was growing up, there was a party, I think it still exists, right, the Peace and Freedom Party. And, and then independence would mean maybe there's problems sometimes because it lends itself to, you know, sometimes it aligns itself with a kind of individualism that is, that is selfish. Whereas, you know, to be too independent from everything else, and just me, myself and mine. So, but independent, you know, this countries like the United States is kind of, you know, that's like one of the, almost religiously, politically, religiously political ideals, you know, I in my independence, was also it has a better that, you know, it's a beautiful thing. Sometimes I've thought that this word viveka that I'm translating here, as you know, the seclusion I'm translating, is independence. I've also I like the term English word autonomy. And, and sometimes give people the autonomy to make their own medical decisions in this country is a really mean, it's a central feature of medical ethics. And so, the seclusion is to be secluded from attachments, from being enmeshed in the world of things and people and experiences and feelings, that we might have thoughts and ideals and judgments we have. And so we're secluded from that entanglement. But another way of saying is we become independent from it. Or something inside of us is independent from it, something inside of us has become autonomous or autonomous from us, there's an autonomy. So say you have a thought that goes through your mind. And maybe it's not a wonderful thought. And then you judge yourself, Oh, I'm a bad person. I shouldn't have done that. I hope there's no one mind reading here at IMC that was that rather embarrassing that I had that thought? That reaction is an entanglement. We're caught at its web. We're involved in it and reacting to it and having preferences around it. To be autonomous or to be independent from our thinking, is to see that thought arise. And just see it arise and wave as it goes by, you know, or not wave, just let it just have no reaction to it. Because there's someplace inside the place of knowing of recognition of awareness that clearly is aware that this is happening.
But it doesn't pick it up doesn't react to it does not for or against it. doesn't use it to to define oneself. Oh, there was, there was this terrible thought that and I am a lousy person. Because I had that thought. As opposed to the simplicity of look, there was some that was a lousy thought, wow. Okay. Lousy thoughts come lousy thoughts watsco. And there's no attachment to that. There's a seclusion, there's a autonomy, there's an independence from those kinds of things, that kind of thought. Same thing with feelings. And this time, we'll use a positive thing just to challenge you some more. And that is, maybe there's a really happy feeling coming up. No, who wants to be independent of that. But the but happy feeling comes up and there's no autonomy. We're aware of it, we're present for it. But there's an autonomy and independence from the happy feeling. The happy feelings allowed to be there. But we don't define ourselves by it. Look at me, I got it made. You know, I hope they notice how happy I am because I'm a good Buddhist or something. And because Heaven forbid that you're depressed, because then are you how can you be good Buddhist, B doesn't matter what feelings are depressed, happy in this place of autonomy, independence. And it has a lot to do with the autonomy, independence, of knowing or being aware. You we know we there's a place inside almost almost like a place inside, where we know what's happening. And I want to stress this idea of knowing that there's not there's not shutting out the world, we know. And the knowing is free, the knowing is independent. So that comes to the second quality, which is I tried to say this, or render it as as freedom, independence as the first one or autonomy. And the second one is freedom, which is usually translated as dispassion. But what did this passion means in the ancient language, is no longer having attachments. And the clinging and and it's kind of the word ragab, which translate his passion here has some of the negative connotations that we can a kid have sometimes in English, around the word passion. You know, sometimes having too much passion, a passion for his anger. Whoa. That's not good or passion for money or passion for status or wealth. We might talk that way. Sometimes. It California, maybe nowhere else had an English speaking world. And the passion is kind of considered all good. You supposed to have on your passion for life. So to talk about this passion, it kind of doesn't quite work. This kind of in the new fashion used to mean suffering. In the old days, that's criminal Latins suffer, the passion of Christ was the suffering of Christ. So, but so but freedom and it's freedom from from clinging from grasping greed, it's freedom from ill will and hatred. It's freedom from delusion. And delusion has a lot to do with the projections we put on the world. And then we believe those projections. And we have you know, there's human beings are kind of projecting machines, people poor, you know, walking, talking, projectors, we have all these ideas that we overlay on to the world and, and others. Some of those are deluded. And so as we to develop this independent way of knowing this autonomy, of seeing of being aware, and we're no longer so enmeshed in the experience, we can actually see thoughts, interpretations, projections arise in the mind. We say, oh, that's just a projection. That's just you know, who knows what that is? So you guys are all wearing masks. And I can think, you know, I bet you all have nice mustaches. Yeah, that's, you know, that's what it's, you know, so I would love to see your mustaches and probably some are handlebar mustaches and your nose. And I'm just seeing mustaches on, you know, all your faces. You know, because I can't see, you know, so I'm making up a story. So I can see mustache story arising. And it's just a story, just an idea.
And, you know, it's so easy to live in that story and assume that I'm seeing accurately. So the more more independent we become, from this aware place, to be this fantastic vantage point to See the birth the arising of an idea? And we can put a question mark behind it? Is it true? So this dispassion Is this the fading away, or becoming free from clinging. So some people would say it's a little bit, you know, a different way of talking about the first one. But here we're talking about, you really feel the freedom, when we feel kind of independent. And now we feel there's freedom or what a relief, it's so great to have this freedom, so great to not be caught. There's a joy, there's a delight, there's a sense of well being, there's an appreciation of how great that is. And the third one nirodha, translated as usually technically translated as cessation means the stopping of something. It's a stopping of agitation. So calling it peace kind of works. There's a place of peace that we have, because we know something about peace. In fact, peace is always present. Believe it or not, it just that if we're agitated, we can't notice it. There's more peace in this world, than there is agitation. But we don't notice it, because we're caught up in our swirls and thoughts and fears, and, you know, ways. And so when someone has reached deep enough, letting go, let go of something, let go of their their self preoccupation, and let go of their clings and attachments. Let go enough, so that agitation has abated. And they haven't experienced themselves being an agitated when it's been strong enough that they that it becomes ever available. It's always there, if you turn towards it and see, oh, there might be agitated, but there's also peace, I might still be entangled. But there's also a place of independence where I see it, that I'm entangled. I still have these power, these passions, these attachments, but I'm seeing it replaced if not attached. So they kind of do to work together as opposed to just being completely immersed in the world of attachment, immerse the world of self definition, and selfing, and all that. And so at that point, so, so the, so the practice is the same, it it's a spirit of mindfulness practice is very simple. It used to be present clearly for what's happening in the moment. And I like to think that this mindfulness practice has a light touch to it. There's so it's a light practice, it has no weight. But I certainly add way to bear down I'm trying hard, I'm trying desperately make it work. I'm trying to kind of sometimes to have the bazooka approach to mindfulness. You know, like what's happening, and I'm going to just blast it out of existence. I used to do that with deep pain, you know, like, I'd sneak paid, if I just get really concentrated, I could just kind of like, go beyond it that blasted away or something I could bear down. And, or you don't mind is so agitated, like, this is terrible. I shouldn't be this way. And okay, I'm going to really kind of be mindful of my agitated mind and not just going to make it go away or blast it away. So that's what a lot of weight and a lot of intensity and intention. But the mindfulness has this very light touch that has no weight. It clearly sees clearly knows, but it's not reacting to doing. So learning that. I like to think of mindfulness practices, very simple. We always try to keep to keep things simple. So being aware. Thank thinking, thinking, just thinking. And then we do it again thinking, thinking, really see it. And then we might see that we're tense around our thoughts, we see tense, we see we have preferences around thinking preference. See that? We're recoiling from our thoughts. Oh record, this is recoiling.
And, and then we say, you know that and then we notice Oh, I'm breathing. In addition to all these thoughts, I'm having, oh, just breathing, then there might be a choice. I think that rather than thinking about these things, what if I just stay with my breath and just stay I can stay two or three breaths. I was nice. The mind wanders off. At some point, you notice that the mind wanders off, and then it's just wandering off mind. And then there's breathing again. Breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out. And then now I can say longer with their breath and, and then it occurs to me, you know, if I could have relaxed in my torso and my belly, I think I can stay with a breath longer. So we stay longer and longer. And so slowly, things kind of come together. And at some point, the simple this process of simplification comes to a place where something releases something, lets go enough, something quiets enough for stills enough that we discover this place, or that place is not really the right language, we discover something that feels independent, free, and peaceful. That one option then is to cling to that, I want that more of that, of hold on to this. So then, then the simple practice of mindfulness, you notice wanting tension, headache arising, because of peace and freedom, you know, then that much loss of peace that happens as we cling, and what more of that peace and try to make it come back or something. So we learned how to learn all these tricks of the mind, we learn with the mind as to all this makes it more complicated than it needs to be. But you know, if we come together, and we practice and so. So someone who has some level of maturity in Buddhism, the practice is same as someone who's a beginner, but they have this reference point that they can kind of feel or sense or know, or remember that there is this potential, this capacity to know, wealth, while they're in the knowing there's this independence, freedom and this peace. And it's, and so the practice with the practice of mindfulness, say is the same, it's just the reference point for it, the support for it, the context for doing it shifts. So that's, that's the big change. And so sometimes it said that I had, and when you do mindfulness practice, as a slogan that says, It's not seeing something new, but seeing it a new way. So it's not necessarily that we live in a world and see the world differently. But we see with these eyes, or with perception, that doesn't, cling, we see with these eyes that it feels independent, it's not in meshed with or tangled with. So it's independent. We see with perceive with a capacity, that's there's freedom in being being with something not caught in it. And there's peace, rather than agitation as we see the eyes that see our calm, as opposed to darting around, and you know, being afraid, or something are wanting, and so and so that that's, that's, that's the big shift. And, and then you begin, you have some hint of that. It feels traces of that. And then this is to be appreciated, and valued. Some people don't hear that message. And so they just think, oh, it's always the same practice. And so they will keep focusing on what's happening in the moment. Not understanding that how they focus how they're aware, is actually more important than what they're aware of. You have to be aware of something in this world of ours, usually, as we go about our life, but how we're aware of it can how we are be independent, free, and, and peaceful. And if it can't be, which is often isn't. Can how you know that be independent, free and peaceful. And you keep stepping back, you keep stepping, where can I find that place? Where connected connect, I step back and just see, okay, this is how it is.
So in terms of mindfulness meditation, then it's always like when we actually do meditation, it's always the same practice. But the practice what we're aware of also shifts as we practice it, there's a simplification process that goes on. And the Buddha talked about the simplification process that leads us to get simpler and simpler and simpler. And then we get turned inside out. And this is my language inside out. So that we can, when we come back into the world, we're back in the world, in assembly the simple way. But we're free. And so again, it's not a rejection of the world. It's a kind of learning how to be in the world in a whole different way. So there's one, there's one discourse, that's called the lesser discourse on emptiness, which I think should be translated a lesser discourse on emptying because there is a process of simplifying, simplifying that goes on. So I wanted to give you a little that tried to doodle an example of this. So this morning, before I came down to IMC. I don't my mind was thinking about being here at IMC this morning, you know, had this COVID protocol. And I've got enough to teach retreat today. And so I had to get some things from here, I didn't want to be here early enough to make sure that everything was in place, there was some my responsibilities here had to be fulfilled, take care of things before I left. And then there was this talk I was supposed to give and who's going to come and don't have the right mask? And you know, and it's was it kind of it was I was comfortable and peaceful enough about it. But my mind was in this complicated world, thinking ahead, planning ahead, what do I have to do with list of things and, and that was the complicated world I was living in, kind of a little bit coming down here. Once I came here, I didn't have to be thinking about what am I going to do when I get to IMC? I was at IMC. And so now I just went around started taking care of the things that have to do. And I still was thinking ahead little bit to you know, what's next, and do I have time to do everything and, and so but I was, you know, then there was much it was simpler, just doing them I was here and, and just you know, it was just a simpler world and a complicated projections of that. And so as taking care of things, it was nice, and then at some point that could meditate with all of you. And then, you know, then okay, things were a lot of things were taken care of, and you have other things to do afterwards as well. But now I don't have to think about that anymore. And now I could feel that I'm still the momentum of having all those thinking was still going on. But that momentum just feels like energy, a little agitation, little tightness someplace in my chest. That's okay. I'll just breathe with it and be with it and feel it. And, and that I could feel there started to be a shift in my thinking got quieter. And I started, I stopped thinking about IMC and the tasks I had to do. And I started to admit, in fact, even the eyes closed, the fact that I was even sitting at IMC, in this building kind of receded occasionally had thoughts about when do I have to ring the bell? Should I look at the clock, I finally did. And I was late. And and so you know, so a little bit things came through, but things got simpler and simpler. And then, and then after a while, I could feel the shift inside and, and it came so I kind of dropped into my body. And it was more with my body and the simplicity of just breathing, there was very little thought going on just breathing. It's simple. And that process, if it continued, could get more and more simple. And you know, after a while I've had you know, some time, maybe the breathing would have kind of gotten quieter and calmer that I couldn't even feel the breathing. And it was just more feeling sensations in my body. After a while sometimes when I meditate, the sense of the boundaries of the body, the sense of being at a body as a bounded thing disappears. And the body just feels porous to the environment or, you know, boundary LIS almost. There's times when I've my bodies disappeared in meditation, and I kind of felt so much like I didn't I was I was invisible. And when it first times it happened, I would open my eyes to make sure I was still here. Yep, that hadn't gone anywhere. But this simply simplification, simplification, simplification that goes on.
And one of the and then it's not valuable just to have it that simple, except that it's kind of relaxed and calm. What's valuable is what it teaches us about non clinging. These are hard because it'd be if I was, you know, was more complicated tends to be more clinging more attachment and stuff but to be kind of all those get shared and get quieter, quieter. And it takes a lot to trust. Had this deep trust that it's okay to let go the things we're attached to let go in terms of meditation let go of thinking about it being concerned about it. That takes a lot of love and care not to criticize yourself if you can't let go and you're mighty just take, swirling and whirling by itself and propel that's the time would probably need a lot of compassion and care and love and kindness and generosity and, and trust, it's okay and that trusting it's okay to be agitated is a great help for getting calm. So this trusting and finding, finding or finding ourselves so there as wasted trust and relax and just trust the present moment just as enough just to be alive in the present moment breathing and being at some point, you get a sense of independence, we get a sense of freedom, we get a sense of peace. And if that experience is impactful enough, strong enough, some remnant of it some traces of it, some memory of it, remains there. So we so and then the Buddha said he this out there's many of this, this course lesser discourse, an emptiness, he go through his whole process of emptying, simplifying becoming less, and that he takes us back into the world. And he is if it seems like the going to more and more reified, sublime kind of meditation states. But then he says the kind of basically says, and the most ultimate, the really the most ultimate thing is to be back in the world. With hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, being aware of your thoughts, what goes on in the mind, just being in the world, without any clinging. And then you're just aware that you practice is the same wherever your thoughts, your, what you see, what you hear, what you feel, what you sense, what you taste, what you're thinking, what you're feeling, you know, all these things are still there. But then there's a different reference point. So it's possible that some of you already have a reference point for that. Maybe something happened for you time in your life, there was independence outside of meditation, maybe you were some setting some situation where you had some profound experience of being at peace being at home being at ease. Some people have it in a natural setting in a park or by the ocean or in the mountains or something. Some people have it with other people, sometimes in love making, some people will have that experience. Some people's listening to music, you know, in some kind of nice way, maybe at home alone, or some people it's through playing music or dance or exercise or, or having a good nap and waking up. peaceful setting. So you know, I, you know, so many different ways. But maybe if you've had some kind of maybe you've had some experience, and experienced that, I had a number of experience a few experiences that child growing up that kind of remained for me kind of like as a touchstone. And one of them was, was, we had this, I guess, relatively small dining room table. And sometimes I would take these white bedsheets that we have, and put it over the table. And then also kids who would crawl underneath inside, and that light from the sun would be coming into the kitchen. And the light was so sublime, beautiful and clear, and kind of, I don't know, clean or something coming through the white sheet. And I'd feel so cozy and safe from the world protected, secluded. And it's such a nice way. And I just like the gig still feel it in my body, this physical sense of kind of well being that came from that kind of way of being.
And the Buddha also had his childhood story like that. That wasn't under the kitchen table, but it was similar kind of childhood experience. That became his reference point for how he then followed followed the path to his awakening. So maybe you have a reference point already. Maybe something happened to you, maybe something from when you were five. I think that's how old I was maybe with the kitchen thing. And some, some reference point for what we're talking about here. So that when you practice you that reference point is close by to God Like a little reminder, a little, you know, pointer with a, that's possible. That's a way of being with this. As opposed to, when I was in Japan, and the Zen monasteries, sometimes the abbot would bark like a drill sergeant Concentrate, concentrate, concentrate as if your heads on fire, die die. No, you know, if I took that as the only reference point for the attitude for how to sit and meditate, I probably would have given myself a headache. So, you know, some people grew up with taskmasters teachers, or parents or somebody that kind of imbued a certain kind of attitude, that became became the reference point for how to be that not so, not so healthy. So, I think what Buddhism is suggesting is that, there is a way, a healthy way to have reference points of experiences we've had in life, that are really healthy and wholesome and good. And not try to desperately have it again, engineer it again. But to kind of Intuit it or kind of, remember the quality of the mind, the attention, the heart, so that when you start doing mindfulness practice, you that's kind of the tone, that's the feeling. And that's the way that we delight touch in which we use mindfulness, that the mindfulness, the attention is somehow somehow, you know, oriented a little bit to be that way or, or it's like a North Star, or it's like a reminder, you don't have to be so tense, you don't have to be trying so hard. You don't have to be so confused not to confuse mindfulness with judgments with preferences. Just because it's okay to be simple. Okay, be really simple. And I think it's good for that, I'll end by saying that it's a beautiful thing to be, be independent, free and peaceful. Because then there's generosity, and our way of being with the world, in particular generosity, and that is the generosity of granting everything else it's freedom. So they were with someone, we're not meeting them with them, you know, being entangled with them, or them needing them to be a certain way or wanting them to be a certain way or, or imposing upon them our agitation or our agendas. We can do this being able to be with someone who fully and kindly and presently, with the degree of independence, so they can be independent with freedom, or for inner freedom, so that we are not complicating their life and taking their freedom away. So that we are peaceful so that there's a possibility for them to be peaceful agitation is not necessarily agitating them. And that's true with people. It's true with things and animals and beings and everything. We grant everything, it's freedom. Isn't that nice? And the end, maybe you don't get liberated. Maybe you've liberated everything from you. And that's your gift. So thank you all very much for today.