2021-08-01-Not Churning Thoughts and Self
6:03PM Aug 1, 2021
So hello everyone again, and here we are on August 1 of 2021. And today was the day that we had the plans here at IMC, to open up our doors that people can come together. And this event this Sunday morning talk was meant to be the first public talk at our center since mid March 2020. And it seemed like, over the last few weeks that the course of the pandemic was taking such a direction, that it wasn't wise to open up, or it didn't contribute to caring for our community in important ways. Where we want to try to be careful not to be transmitters, or enable the transmission of this Coronavirus. And that somehow being sheltered protected, close this way, hopefully seen as an act of love and care, compassion for this world, for ourselves and others. So, but it kind of is a poignant moment to have planned to open and then now not opening, and makes me reflect on the, the impact that this pandemic has had that for these months. And I think it's important to be deeply respectful of the impact but to appreciate, understand the the impact that it has on each of us, as individuals, as a community as a global community. That and it's not uncommon for people to feel that, that the ongoingness of this pandemic, has worn them down to some degree. And there's a kind of tiredness or as kind of weariness from the lack of contact with a lot of people. The isolation, some people feel, the feeling of, of, you know, the, the feeling of compassion, the feeling of distress around what's happening in our society, in our world as a whole. And I think of these months that we've been in the pandemic, as kind of, you know, we I think some of us to have experienced to be aware of a greater range of suffering greater range of challenge locally and internationally, then maybe many people experience over a lifetime. Maybe not since world war two maybe or that there's been some like this. Some people have evoked the AIDS pandemic, as being another time where it's been a global impact. And, but I think that one of the things about this pandemic is how that's remarkable is how much we it's shared by everyone on the globe. I think there's very few people who are not somehow impacted by it. And maybe there's a few, you notice, I had some little bit of indirect contact with a South Pacific Island, and where it doesn't seem to have reached the shores, so they're free of it. But they've closed themselves off to the wider world. And, and so that has an impact as well. So and I can imagine that for a lot of people, it felt like finally it's over, but then it's not over and, and so, one of the important things is to care for ourselves. Not to allow the weight of this current events to weigh us down to stress us too. To, for the wariness of it all to kind of begin wearing us down and so how do we do that? How do we how do we
not allow the accumulated this experience of this ongoing pandemic to accumulate its impact on us. And that's a little bit the topic of today are very much the topic. And, and, and for me, the reference point for this is meditation, the way that meditation can help, and other people, some people have other means that are similar to meditation to do the same thing. And that is a means by which we can start fresh every day. a means by which the accumulation of stress the accumulation of weariness, or resistance, or, or sadness, or distress that might be felt that it doesn't accumulate that doesn't build. But but rather than not the opposite, that we're able to put it down. And for some period of time to really put it down and, and to live free of it without it, even if it's just for a few minutes, to have the experience so that we can start fresh, we can be reef refreshed, renewed. And so then we've interrupted the other building the accumulation of the tremendous weight, and the ongoingness of the experience. And it's very easy for many of us to be caught up in the, in the world when or the agitation or the churning of the mind and thoughts and live in them as if that's completely natural and normal and what else is there to do when and you know, and so we're it's kind of like a labyrinth we can't get out of because the thoughts are just kind of thinking themselves and and maybe sometimes the thoughts are thinking about how to be free of the very thing we're thinking about and kind of like stuck kind of and but meditation to really be able to get still focused concentrated meditation to have mindfulness be a stepping away from preoccupation of thoughts, involvement with thoughts are going to getting a little distance from them and freedom from them. And maybe allowing the thinking to quiet and still or it's a shift the center of where we live in our being from being centered on thoughts to being centered in the breathing or in the body. And, and to feel that shift. And, and so that we're not feeding our thoughts we're not living in the thoughts we're not swirling around in those thoughts. And the analogy for this is whipping up cream or using an egg beater to with to, to beat up egg whites, that if you take either one but you know you keep stirring and churning and beating and bringing air into the egg whites or air into the cream. slowly over time. The cream the egg whites become stiff and and they get stiffer and stiffer until they can so stiff. You can take the beater or the fork whatever you're doing, and lift it up and you make little these little peaks because it's firm enough that it stays upright. And so the same way with our minds. If we're constantly using the egg beater egg beater of the mind or chert a fork in the mind kind of constantly stirring and stirring and stirring that the mind starts becoming stiff. It starts becoming heavy and and feel substantial and feels sticky and stiffer and stiffer and so there's not much flexibility and fluidity with our experience because of the stiffness of the mind. And with the stiffer the mind becomes the more we're logged on or coagulated around thoughts, ideas, concerns coagulative stiff around our suffering, the more circumstances impact us are the or more fragile in a sense we the stiffness is vulnerable to being broken or being bumped up against or that doesn't happen if the liquid is really super soft and smooth and you put your finger through the cream and it just kind of like you know just it's smooth. There's no resistance to the finger going through the cream
and the mood before it's been dopamine a sense or the egg whites. So, so this idea of of letting the mind become soft, fluid, not stiff not coagulated, is, that's what the accumulation is the accumulation of tension, accumulation of an impact of chronic thinking chronic, you know, and sometimes people's suffering gets exasperated by this whipping around of the eggbeater in the mind, of our fears, our plans, our resistance, or resentments are all these kinds of things, our desires, our frustrations. And so to learn a way to put that down to to stop the egg beating, to stop the churning and allow the, the thinking mind, they get quiet, so that for a brief moment, maybe or for a short period of time, we're not riding on the wave of chronic thinking, we're not being pushed by the tides of, of thoughts that are coming and coming and coming. And it's kind of like we're able to settle or stand on dry ground. And we're no longer than the momentum of thoughts or not, we're not caught in it, or spinning in it or swirling in these thoughts. And this allows us to feel deeply refreshed, allows us to feel at ease at peace. And it's a wonderful piece and refreshment. That's very hard to understand. If we're churning in our thoughts, the thoughts they want something, and to not want, can seem like a betrayal, to not wanting and seems like we have to be forward looking, reaching in or pulling back and protecting ourselves or doing something in order to find ourselves to be safe to get what we want. And the idea of doing nothing, of just letting go fully and being peaceful. From the logic of our thinking mind, this doesn't work. They, they somehow the unconscious logic of thinking is that you can't really afford to stop thinking, thinking is what where the solution is going to be thinking is where the where it's all constructed and made and where it it certainly exists. And thinking has so much weight than substance and authority that we can't, we have to stay there when the authority insists like the you have to stay hidden be in your thoughts and figure this out. But if we can put it all down and step away from it, and discover that, that that place where there is no wait where there is no authority like that, and, and feel like that's a center, then something can relax, they're there to discover some capacity for peace and ease, letting go. And that refreshment then it's kind of like, then we're fresh, then we start up with where I abandoning the world. But then when we return to the world after our meditation, then we're there in a fresh way in a clear way in or, hopefully renewed way. And then it's easier to engage in the world around us, with our family, friends, work the world, whatever. It's easier to read the news and, and not be overwhelmed or not. I read kind of like the one more thing that gets folded into the churning of the mind, the way the egg beating of the mind that we do and that it just becomes something we take in more deeply something news and take in the suffering around us. So in a beneficial way, it impacts our heart. But if the mind is spinning and churning, taking in the suffering of the world, is probably counterproductive, not useful. I think that the pandemic I think has been opportune time to be a witness, deep witness heart witness to this the human condition on this planet. We're learning so much about injustice, so much about the suffering, and so much about the you know, about death than sickness and
it's a huge what's happened to our planet with a pandemic? How do we become a better person because of it? How do we not get weighed down by it? How does it awaken compassion, love good quality. It isn't us. So those qualities can meet the world. I think it's very hard to do that if we're stuck or in this churning, staring up the mind beating up the mind whipping up the mind over and over again, like you would, egg whites are who we have to stop the churning, we have to stop the incessant spinning and agitation of the mind. Or at least slow it down dramatically enough, so that there's time for us to be refreshed, time to come, open the eyes again, and the eyes are not so clouded by all these thoughts, ideas, judgments and fears. And then a sense, this capacity of meditation to put ourselves, you know, to get renewed or refreshed, is also get renewed from ourselves. Where, where we're not being disloyal to ourselves, that we're not continuing to think about our suffering our problems or concerns. It's actually, if we, if some of them, some of our preoccupations are all about me, myself and mine. And, and to be able to really put aside, even if we are suffering, there's a lot of suffering that we're experienced in many of us. And, and not to diminish that and not to deny that it's there. But if we're we're doing is using the eggbeater of the mind, to, to just spin spin, spin the thoughts and ideas, then the it's not really useful for us, we're just adding suffering upon suffering. It is okay, to stop the ache beating, it's okay to stop thinking about oneself for a while, and get kind of renewed and refreshed. And, and then we can come back. Now in Buddhism, one of the egg beaters, one of the that, that is one of the core things that Buddha's practice is trying to free ourselves from is the egg beater, which is the egg, this the see, as things get stiffer in the mind, this stiff, some of these stiff things in the mind become the egg beater. And one of the stiff things in the mind that becomes the eggbeater is our idea of self or ideas of self. So we have, you know, it's pretty natural for human beings, to have a sense of emptiness I am. There's a centeredness here, in our in our being that's normal and natural. But that centeredness and being centered here and feeling a little bit like through our body, this substantial nature of our being the vitality of life that's flowing here in this body. That's fine. But then we start having thoughts, ideas, judgments, projections, biases that we add and build. And we add to that, and that's this. So eggbeater of self, we're adding to that building on it, the baggage of I have to be this way I have to be that way. Being a person like this means that I have to be treated this way or shouldn't be treated that way or I should be treated myself this way I need to have that happen, or this has to happen. It's just more and more ideas about self. And these layers and layers. Some of them are fine ideas in and of themselves. But it isn't the ideas that are the problem, but rather how the egg beater of self is churning and spinning and making them more and more solidified sense of self idea of self holding the self contracted.
And one of the great blessings and benefits of meditation practice is that to stop the egg beating of self in let you know we retire the constant preoccupation and spinning around me myself in mind, and even let that become quiet. And it's not a disloyalty to self. But it's a recovery from the stress of this egg beater that's going and it's a remarkable thing to discover. That there is a vitality or clarity and openness that's possible for us and or an engagement even in life that's possible. Without that stiffness of me myself in mind the stiffness of that, that helps starts making a substantial sell for a weight Self, a yeah weighty self. Whatever the self is, if you want to have a self or a self ideas or identities that we have, they belong in and of themselves to the weight this world of the mind. As soon as we there's a way to them, then we've contracted, we've gotten tight, heavy. If we get if they get if we get too heavy and substantial, there's been the egg beater of the mind has been stirring things up. Meditation going for a walk in nature, reading a nice book, taking a nap. You know, there's all kinds of different ways that different people have, but to do it something and so in a thorough and deep way that sometimes something unlike meditation can do. We completely put down the egg beating the egg beater of self churning that goes on, and to discover as a peacefulness or quiet irradiance and openness, where there's no reference being made. To me, myself and I, where there's no reference to anything that has any weight. The references, if anything, he says something that feels open, weightless, light, free, relaxed, where we learn to recognize that the egg beater, the spinning, the churning, that it goes on incessantly on the mind, has quieted down.
And it's so important to give ourselves some time to do that. Because then we think more wisely, then we're ready to see more clearly. Then Then there's space and room for the heart, for our capacity for goodwill and kindness, care, compassion, warm heartedness. So you might, if this talk is, the noise, is something you can relate to, you might start paying attention to when you're spinning your thoughts spinning in the world of the mind, beat his egg beating, and whipping up your thoughts in a ways that things become mentally heavy and substantial and thick and stiff even. And to notice how it might eclipse the warm heartedness of the heart, how it might Eclipse, the kindness, the generosity, the natural goodness, of the heart of our being. That, in and of itself also has no wait in and of itself has no substantiality. Unless we pick it up that way with clinging and pressure and wanting, pick it up with self, the goodness of our heart that is not been churned or by the egg beating of self, where the goodness is that allowed to be there simply reflexively, openly. here and look and start noticing the distinction between when you're churning. And when the churning is stopped when you're spinning and thought. And when you really let the stepped away from that world of thought, and are more peace entities here. It's a very important distinction. And the more you can see that distinction, the more access you'll have to a degree of freedom. where not only maybe you don't need to recover so much or renew as much, but you actually stay renewed or your stay relaxed and open, because you're not continuing a cube that continually accumulating more and more of this tension that comes from whipping up the egg whites in the mind. So I hope you have a chance to each day to do something that really renews or refreshes the mind. I think it's as important as brushing your teeth. And so please And I think you'll probably find that you'll live a much more effective life. So, that way so thank you very much and and I do, I am looking forward to being with all, all of you, certainly all of you but to many of you, when we do open our doors here and we can meet in person and that they will come and until then I offer you my warm regard and well wishing and I hope that you take good care of yourself and good care of the world. Thank you