2022-11-010 Similes for Meditation (2 of 5) Refreshing Lake Spring
2:53PM Nov 1, 2022
So this will be the second talk on the Buddha's use of similes for providing meditation instruction. And I think that these beautiful similes the Buddha uses for his instructions might not at first seem like instructions. And in fact, for me, I think in my early years of reading these early texts, I was somewhat dismissive of the similes and kind of maybe glossed over them. But now I linger with them, and they seem to be quite enriching. And the mind, the human mind often works well with images metaphors, similarly, some people say that human life is we understand ourselves and the world around us is very much through the filter of similes, or metaphors. And that sometimes we can understand things in new ways, through metaphor. Someone might be repeatedly
kind of angrily aggressively. Trying to fix themselves get rid of some kind of trade or something that they have that is, you know, causing suffering. And then they hear kind of a metaphor that their approach to try to stop worse, this tendency they have, the approach they have is kinda like, picking at a scab. And if you pick out a scab, it doesn't heal. So that metaphor might penetrate more deeply be evocative suggestive, have some truth to it, they've escaped, it's true, that that might penetrate much deeper into the psyche, than simply saying, you know, just, you know, leave yourself alone, don't try keep, you know, getting rid of something that you don't like. And so that, you know, so the metaphor there kind of somehow speaks to something. When I, my son was young, very young, he, he didn't fall asleep very easily, though, he had a high sleep need. And so I would, when I took him to bed, I would do guided meditations with him. But I wouldn't sit next to him and say, you know, be aware of your breath, beware of your out breath, what I would do was paint a picture of some animal in the natural world that was sleeping. And one of the most common ones was a sea otter resting on the surface of the ocean, with surrounded by underneath and around all this kelp, that kept the car quite safe. And the image I was creating, and that the car would just lay on its back, and gently feel the rising and falling of the swells is the the ocean. And those swells, I would say, you know, very peaceful and gentle and quiet. And as you feel your breathing, maybe put your hand on your chest, I would tell him on and just feel that rising and falling of the swell and the otter kind of falling asleep, you know, resting there safely. And in with that, he would stay with his breath, you'd feel the movement of his breathing, and he would gently fall asleep. And I had a whole repertoire of animals that I would use and one of them was, you know, like a gorilla or a monkey that had a little newborn baby that would rest on the chest of the parent. And, and would feel the rising and falling of the parents chest as as the parent was breathing, and that the baby would just feel that movement and, and then again, maybe have him put his hand on his chest and feel his movement. And then you know, and this worked very well for quite a while and helped him fall asleep. So this idea of painting an image, a story, something kind of allows the minds imagination allows. It's kind of an emotional connection. You know, little, you know, little baby monkey With its parent, the safety of being surrounded by kelp was thin in the story I made it kind of kind of touch some different aspects of who we are, that allowed something deeper to connect to, you know, the movements or breathing to do in doing this kind of meditation. And so the Buddha also use the similes and the similes then tap into our imagination tap into how the imagination in the picture that's created, reaches out and touches different parts of our emotional being, but different parts of our concepts and ideas and our ability to be ability to visualize the way that supports what we're doing. And,
and I didn't know that this was could be part of meditation, partly because both in Zen and Vipassana practice started in Asia, he was clearly opposed to doing anything like that. It was just kind of sitting here present with the truth, not doing anything, trying to make anything happen, just a direct penetration of the truth of emptiness or something. And with the personal practice, it was just directly seeing things as they are, without the overlay of concepts and stories and images and similes. There's something very profound about the way I was taught and the way I was taught Vipassana. But it's also was kind of an advanced practice, and kind of assume that people could were already able to settle quite well. And in fact, in when I started Zed, I wasn't and be passed, and I wasn't. And so it took a while to kind of find myself settled enough to do the instructions that they were teaching. And the Buddha, but the Buddha when he gave his meditation instruction, he'd made some very simple technical XSplit explanation of what to do or what goes on. But then he provided similes that filled in the picture that gave a richer sense of what was going to happen within. It's almost like similes and metaphors. Sometimes it's evoke or touch or explain, describe what can go on inside better than just a simple statement. And, you know, if somewhat someone could say to me, you know, I'm feeling pretty sad today, I would kind of care for them and wonder what's going on. But I've heard sad songs that made me cry. There was one actually one children's song from my son, that I don't think he ever was moved by it. But whenever it was, by the singer called Rafi made children's songs. And now to hear the song and not get kind of teary and it was such a sad song. So there's, there's something there's things that touch us and evoke us. So similes. So the simile I want to describe today is the beginning stages of really getting quiet and settled. So that all the noises of the mind the busyness of the mind is no longer there. And we're beginning to kind of settle into the present moment. But there's still that kind of dynamism, there's still a kind of, kind of the flow of energy that of life is kind of flowing through us in a very nice way. And, and so the simile is that the of mountain lake that is deep, deep mountain lake, and there's no rivers flowing into the river into the lake. So it's not being replenished by rivers coming in, and there's no rain that falls in the river so it's not being replenished from above. Instead, this this particular lake is being replenished replenished by an underwater spring, that's at the center of the lake basin, where it's flowing waters coming out of the spring into the water itself and fanning out in all directions through the lake. And this water is explained as being cool and fresh. And in a hot climate like India, cool and fresh water was very comforting, very wonderful for people and have very positive connotations. And, and so the city of cool refreshing water was was lit come out of the spring and spread throughout the lake. So no part of the lake was not touched by the this cool current of water in the same way, as a person's gets settled and starts getting quiet, unable to hear hear and listen more deeply what's going on, is partly because they're starting to get focused on the breathing. And the thinking mind, distracted mind the discursive mind starts getting quiet and quiet, then the there starts to kind of be a unification gathering together harmonizing, of the energies of the sensations of what goes on inside of us, that there's kind of something is touch something, you know, you could almost say something almost emotional.
Something that something gets kind of freed up. And there's a flow of energy, of delightful sense of well being that can flow through the body, in the same way that the water from the spring flows through the lake, this delightful kind of current flows through the body, so that no part of the body is not touched by this delightful sense of current. Sometimes this current is called joy, and kind of a joy and happiness. I like to think of it as just kind of, you know, it's a bit also all kinds of intensities of it. It can be, but it's not so well being a sense of unification, that might be comparable to a craftsperson, really happily absorbed in the work they do. Or a someone reading a book, or playing music or doing some activity, where the doing of it fully completely involved in it. Whether we're not fragmented is all the energy is there kind of gathered to kind of a peaceful way to kind of be involved in it. Some delightful happy sense of concentration, absorption, has this welling up feeling that spreads throughout the body. And, and so that's the simile. And so as it gives us a sense that as we can get concentrated, as we get settled and present here, with a quiet mind, there is something deeper that wells up that feels quite healthy and delightful and wonderful, that that we can trust that is supportive. And that so this simile kind of gives a sense of feeling that there's a current, there's a flow, there's a, it arises maybe out of some place, source within us. The important part of this simile is that the source of this sensations of delight and well being that they're going on, arise from inside out, they arise from within the body. And they're not dependent on any the rivers coming from outside, any of the sense stores being stimulated by sounds, smells, touch, sights. They're not dependent of anything in the world. And because there's no rain falling in, in the metaphor, the rain is all our thoughts, stories we make living in that kind of conceptual world. And none of that is influencing us. We're not being impacted by the world or the world of our thoughts. This source of this well being is not dependent on anything in the world. And that's a phenomenal pointing the store at this kind of similarly pointing that possibility. The can give a lot of inspiration, oh, I don't have to fix the world. I don't have to line up the world to be just the right way. There is a place of quietude or peacefulness, where something begins some happiness can arise and smell love from the inside out. And it can feel like it has no cause or no reason, though the cause kind of is being settled and focused and present to the kind of more continuous way. That's kind of the cause, but it kind of like has no worldly cause. And to begin having a sense of this that we carry with us this possibility can free us from the idea that my happiness is dependent on what goes on in the world and I have to fix the world. Get everyone to behave properly, then I'll be happy. Rather, there is this beautiful deep mountain lake inside of you. In which there is a bottom there's a spring of freshing energy coming up and it can flow throughout the whole body. The treasure is in you, not outside. So thank you And, and I feel a little bit apologetic that the guided meditations this week are a little bit long, a lot of words, but hopefully it It conveys little bit what I'm teaching here with the assemblies and we'll continue again tomorrow. Thank you