2022-03-18 Satipaṭṭhāna (47) Hindrances: Doubt
5:41PM Mar 18, 2022
Good morning everyone. We can live in a world where we are quick to think that things are wrong or we can live in a world where we are present on the main road for what is. We are not taking the side roads of something being wrong or being alarmed.
I do not know what this blacking out is that we have with the video. I do know that when meditation gets very, very still and quiet, sometimes the mind does things that some people call blinking out. Some of the blinking outs are just interesting, like wow, what was that. They can be repetitive. Sometimes the blinking out is an amazing transformation that can happen from being on the main road of experience – just being present for what is.
So I think because I see it blacking out, I will just repeat myself or wait for the video to come back on again. For now I think we are just going to live with it, and use this as an opportunity to wake up to letting go. The blinking and blacking out that can happen in deep meditation arises when the mind is no longer taking any side roads from the main road. It is just here.
In not taking any side roads, we are very present for what is, without being for or against, without any preoccupation, thinking, or any input from the world – input from the world of thoughts. It is almost like we are not living in that input. We are not living in our thoughts. We are not living in being responsive. We are not thinking about or reacting to anything at all. We are not taking up residence in the thoughts or residence anywhere.
When the mind, the heart, the inner life is just at rest with all things – not caught in anything or resting or taking up residence in anything, then something deep can let go. Sometimes it lasts just for a second, like what is happening here with the blinking out. So I think what we will do today is just continue and I will just see the blinking out. I will just pause as most of them are pretty short. It seems we can just be confident that it will come back on. I have about 10 minutes here and then we will switch on to the zoom.
The last of the hindrances is usually called doubt. It involves a world of uncertainty, indecisiveness, and confusion about things. The opposite of this kind of doubt, confusion, uncertainty, I think of as trust.
For practice of meditation, it is trusting the main road. The main road is this wide road. If you stay on the wide road, you are on the right track. When you take the short, little side paths that go off from the big, wide road then you go off into the thickets, the jungles, the woods and the wilderness where you may not come back so quickly. It puts you in circles or has you wandering around for a long time before you can come back to the main road.
Trust the main road of practice. Just show up. Just be present for this. Be present for this. Be present for this. When the mind starts going down a side path, remember: "Oh, that is a side path. Just be here."
One of the side paths is doubt. Confusion is wondering what to do. What am I supposed to be doing? Am I able to do this? Is this the right teaching? What about this teaching of not-self? It does not make any sense the Buddha's teachings. What do they mean by it? I have doubts about it. All these are kinds of side paths.
The path to trust, is the path of just being present – for this. It is like the path arises as we step on it. If we are looking beyond our next step, for the path, then it is easy to get into a world of confusion and doubt. If we trust that next step, then the path arises – the path appears in this step, with the step. The steps in mindfulness practice are to simply be present for the obvious experience of the moment – the recognition of it. If anything happens, that is okay. Now this is happening – this is happening, this is happening.
One of the forms of doubt, and one of the side paths that people might take is: "How will I take care of myself? How do I take care of the world if I am simplistically taking in this moment, just this moment?"
Two answers to this. One is that the primary reference point that we are talking about right now is meditation. How we are in meditation might be different then how we are in daily life. We are mindful in both. But in meditation, we can have this radical simplicity of just being with the obvious – being present for this. We do not have to solve the world's problems while we are in meditation. We do not have to solve our problems. What we are doing in meditation, how we are present for experience, does not have to be directly connected to solving all the problems around us.
Being present in meditation prepares us to be wise, considerate and kind in how we respond to things outside of meditation. This ability just keeps it simple. It also teaches us how much we complicate things unnecessarily. The radical simplicity of meditation highlights the complications, highlights how we veer away. When we go back into our daily life, we are wiser about that. We notice getting preoccupied in thoughts which are not useful. We are able to recognize the way to be in thought that is useful. We can engage in problem solving if we need to.
Have this deep trust. Just be present, just be present. Certainly doubts, uncertainties, hesitations, confusions will arise. The path of mindfulness in the Satipaṭṭhāna is to simply know: "Oh, this is confusion. This is doubt. This is uncertainty. This is vacillation. This is a lack of commitment. This is what it looks like. This is what it is." See it arise. See it be present. See its absence. See it as a hindrance in meditation. It is a hindrance for continuing to walk on that main road. There can be a doubt. There can be all kinds of healthy doubts that we have in our life.
So I am back. I will try to finish quickly. It is just what is happening. This is what we are present for. In a sense, we are in this dharma mode. I am talking and meditating. This is a time to not make anything a problem. We can have problems later. We have to address this and certainly this will be an issue we will look at.
There are all kinds of healthy doubts that we can have. Healthy doubts are ones that encourage us to look more deeply. Consider more deeply. Question in an appropriate way. Unhealthy doubts are the ones that keep us indecisive, confused, or hesitant without the forward leaning toward questioning and wondering what is going on. It is good to be able to distinguish healthy and unhealthy.
This meditative way of the Satipaṭṭhāna gives us an opportunity to see the arising of doubt. We can see when it is not there. We get a feel for the sense of trust and clarity when we are staying on the main road. We can see how we can let go of it when it comes. We do not have to debate it or justify it when we are meditating. We can trust the main path. Just be present, just be present, just be present. Then things like doubt arise and pass. They are not our business. We just pause for them briefly maybe like the blinking of the video we have today. Then we continue on the path.
So thank you for this and thank you for hanging in there with this. I think it is kind of wonderful that we have an issue like this. We do not lose the connection for more than a few moments and then we can just practice the main path with it and continue.