2021-12-09-Calmness (4 of 5) Serenity Without Boundaries
4:21PM Dec 9, 2021
So continuing with this theme of the week, which is calmness, one of the words for calmness or tranquility is samatha. And it's sa ma tha. And it's often enough in English translated as serenity. And it's seen as the partner of Vipassana. And Vipassana, his insight to the Insight practice is partnered with a certain kind of serenity are calmness that gives power or strength or clarity, to the insight. And this samatha this kind of serenity is associated with be concentration. And country, the concentration is considered to be one of the means of getting becoming calm. And so in corporate concentration is Samadhi is, is a process of becoming composed or unified on are experienced. And I like to think of it as begin with learning how to be centered in our experience, but with the awareness not narrow and tight, but globally soft and expansive. So that everything is in a certain way included. Not that we're paying attention to everything and understanding everything's going on. But there's more like the there's a feeling of openness in the body, a feeling of openness, new awareness, that's not a stuck in any one place, or it's not fixated any one place. Sometimes concentration practice is associated with one pointedness, which can be you know, just putting the attention on one place. But that can be translated into a stuckness enters into a fixation on one place, which tends to be detrimental to the person who's getting concentrated. The idea is that awareness can be very soft, open, even kind of an expansive feeling to it, the attention the sense of presence that we bring. And that is. So there's a kind of a it's kind of like if you
if you have a, a big container, like a big jar full of sand, and but at the bottom, there's a cone and the bottom of the column, there's a little valve, and you can turn the valve and the sand pours through, then the sand will go pour in through the middle, look from the top, the middle falls in first, and everything else follows. And so and so it's kind of like we we focus maybe on the breathing. But in the breathing, we're kind of opening the faucet, and everything begins kind of flowing down through the force of gravity, everything's included, everything kind of orient itself, towards being here in this experience. That can't happen. If we're prioritizing one part of our experience over other parts of the experience, if we're prioritizing our, our emotions are prioritizing our thinking, and even prioritizing certain parts of our body, or ideas about the body, or for prioritizing what should be happening too much. And I like to think of this as kind of living in emotions living through our thinking that there where do we hide it? You know, some people live through certain parts of certain component parts of who they are, rather than living through the totality of who we are. And we do that we're limited. And Buddhism is any of freeing ourselves from those limitations of being partial. Sometimes we use language of identification, we identify with our emotions, we identify with our thoughts or ideas. Meaning that we define ourselves by them. I emote, therefore I am, I think therefore I am. And I'm in pain, therefore I am. I suffer therefore I am. So we live in those things. We take a stance on those things, we prioritize them in some way. And it's not to dismiss the importance of any of this. And sometimes we need to give caring attention to all these different parts of ourselves. But to do it in a way where we don't live in it. We don't want We don't give over importance to it. So we limit ourselves. And so this idea of composing ourselves or unifying ourselves with awareness, so that the sense of presence with a body sense of being here is much more expansive and open to the fluidity of change the movements. They aliveness they and animated fluidity of life from moment to moment. That includes all of the above all these things. So that because we're not compartmentalizing, or fixating or in conflict or pushing some things away, and things become settled, then the serenity begins settling in, we have an easier time to get settled on something. And we can settle on the breathing like the sand all gets settled through this faucet maybe. And that we open this valve are we open to just flowing in. So we're centered and everything kind of comes along and is around it and gathers and is part of it. But it's not an intentional thing of gathering in, it's more like we're open and relaxed. That's why relaxation is so important in meditation. When we relax, things have a chance to flow into the center. If the center is breathing, it flows into the there and things have a chance to then settle. So there can be a calmness of tranquility of serenity that begins to occur. And I find it interesting that as the greater the calmness, the more the calmness has no boundaries, the calmness almost feels like it's extends out into the air the space around me. And with my eyes closed sitting, I can't really feel the difference between the inside and outside of my body in relationship to the calmness and this idea that calmness begins feelings like spreads and opens and have space for it all. The calmness can hold our sorrow, it can hold our anger, it could hold our pains, it can hold our joys, it can hold the thinking mind, all this has a place, but we're not prioritizing it or not living in it, it can just be there in the fluidity the movement, the the softness of life as it unfolds.
So, so samatha in that sometimes just cultivated through concentration, it might be with some, you know, some centering oneself, one's one's breathing, but it's a centering where there's an opening going on. So so we, you know, so on the Exhale to center ourselves on the breathing, and maybe with the exhale, so feeling there's also an opening up into the experience of breathing. And then the inhale, there's also an opening and receiving the experience of breathing. And, and so there's we're centered on the experience of breathing. But that openness that open experience, open feeling is one that is kind of like things open up so everything can pour in the sand of our lives. Everything can pour in and, and, and it isn't so much that it pours in and fills it as it just pours through it just everything has a fluid in moving and flowing. Nothing is stuck. The deeper experiences of tranquility are ones where everything is flowing. Everything is included everything is kind of allowed. It's It's It's It's process nature, it's dynamic nature, everything is dynamic, everything is process unless we fixated on it or we think too much about it then we can imagine it's kind of stuck or something. So samatha is very much an embodied experience. And so, the ability to begin feeling and sensing calmness in the body is a fourth and foundation for this deeper calmness that comes with a concentrated mind a unified mind a mind that knows how to be present in a steady rooted way here for experience. I think of this communist little bit as as the ballast of a boat that the boat might have a keel with it's this quite heavy. And and so no matter how strong the winds goes. The boat might tip a little bit, but it comes back to upright. So the calmness is the balancer is that gives us lets us kind of move relaxingly with things and then come back to upright to presence. We don't get knocked over. Calm calmness also sometimes associated with just letting being trance being porous. And things because things are so calm. It's almost like the body, the mind, the heart is just so open, everything just passes right through. When there's no calmness, and we're fixated on something, when we over prioritize or identify with some part of ourselves, it's kind of like putting up, you know, a wall or most in life hits it, life kind of reacts to it, and bumps into it. And you know, we have to deal with it. But when we're relaxed enough, and don't prioritize or fixate on any one thing, then the experiences of life kind of move right through and just move you know, just, we're porous to it. This is not to be aloof, aloof and distant and disconnected from life. And actually lets us feel a deeper connection, a deeper presence, a deeper intimacy that is both an intimacy to ourselves, while is a kind of intimacy with a world. So some of this is some of the deeper benefits of cultivating calm and tranquility. And the one that comes specifically from the kind of from meditation, the concentration are the unification practices or parts of what meditation does. So maybe you can try it, maybe you could today, you can see how you can relax any kind of way the mind is fixated or prioritizes. Anything or identifies with something as me, myself and mine. See if you can open up the space open up the space of the body, the heart, the mind, to be more inclusive, in that create space within which things can relax. It, little key little tool for doing this is giving yourself time. Do things with lots of time,
opening up and making space for being open. Let it be open in time as well. Give gift time, lots of time, to your experience to what's happening. So that this samatha serenity, can can hold you can contain everything. So, thank you very much and I look forward to the next talk on calmness tomorrow