Monday, August 25, 2008

stillness 2/27/08

Another exchange about meditation.

Me: Some thoughts about meditating:

Stillness isn't a shroud that settles around me. It's not a smoothing of the thoughts into placid obedience. Stillness is a burning sphere of emptiness that welcomes endless permutations of One into the mind. In the circle of stillness I feel rivulets of energy run over my shoulders and my hair and my knees but I am not scalded by their seeking. Like sunlight rolling across the shoulders of the moon, wisdom blazes and illuminates the face without perturbing my tranquility. Like the moon passing over the sun, only my blank emptiness gives meaning to my alternate aspect, to the other side of the moon radiant in lunar whiteness.

If that makes sense.

The Sakyong uses the metaphor of horseback riding when he writes about training the mind. I think this is somewhat like my experience of "riding the surf." There are times when I am writing and I can feel the surge of words swelling beneath my ribs. If I can stay centered on my board and not try to impose conscious direction - if I can keep my opinions and evaluations of the work at bay and simply let it come - then I can ride the wave all the way to a complete poem or argument or question. But you can't get floppy on the board - you can't just say, "Whee! Look at me!" and start waving at everybody. The body's tiny shiftings, like breath, drive the mind atop its canal of focus so that it skims the wave from swell to crest, diverting it at the last moment before the crash to catch the next swelling.

LF - Very good. So when you get up from that experience to move back into daily routine ...what aspects of self do you always take up again, what aspects of self can you let go of and not take up again, and what aspects of self that have not yet manifested can you take up?

Me: To be very still helps me to see that the energy around me can't stop. It continues to tangle and snarl just as it always has and always will. The energy, which is composed in part of all the emotions and thunderings of creatures throughout history, helps me to remember that I have felt every emotion and performed every act possible - the evidence is around me, in the history I helped to create. If I have been abjectly miserable or depraved, then I have also been exquisitely joyful and pure. If I have been forgotten, then I have also been worshipped. That helps me to remember that anything I might want to have, I have already had. And because I believe that all of time exists synchronously, that means that I still have it, that feeling of repletion still exists within me. If I can be open to the feeling of repletion, then I lose the desire for the "aspects of self" I had previously clung to - in my case, solitude, pride, avoidance, control over my routine, lack of pliancy - being unwilling to bend to another's needs, self-absorption, etc.

Solitude: Solitude has been a very comfortable place for me. I like to be separate from other people's hopes, demands, and expectations. In order to maintain my isolation, I have frequently shut people out who might have benefited from a little acknowledgment on my part, and who might have added to my experiences. After meditating, I feel that I can really give myself to T when he is talking, rather than just enduring what he says and picking out the grammatical mistakes and wondering why in God's name he has to say everything three times. :-) And the people are coming again. They were always coming, I guess, but now I am more open to it. Anyway, I am once again the harborer of secrets.

Pride: Which beings us nicely into pride. Pride manifests in me in several ways: people's dexterity with language has been one basis on which I have judged their intelligence, though not the only one; I have at times believed that catastrophe was coming and I was just the girl to stop it; I have struggled mightily and continue to struggle with admitting when I am wrong. Emerging from meditation, I can see how silly that all is and give myself a little hug and tell myself it is all going to be fine. Even if ain't nobody talks good 'ceptin' me, and even if bad things happen to good people, and even - yes even - if I say something really stupid, ignorant, ill-considered, egregiously inaccurate, even then, it will all be okay. And the world will not stop and most people will not hate me if I say yes, I goofed, I was dumb and you are right and thank you for pointing that out for me.

Avoidance: Avoidance is like solitude in that most of what I avoid is social obligation, but this also includes avoiding responsibilities like cleaning up my desk - which I am handily avoiding right now - or unloading the dishwasher or getting my phone fixed. I guess this could also be called laziness. I have found that when I rise from meditation, I don't feel hunted and so I don't have to hide. That makes it easier to exert myself on behalf of others (or myself). Control over my routine: If I have a plan, that's my plan, it's mine, and I don't want to change it. Meditation helps me remember that yes, there is a plan, but gravity and magnetism and the pulling of one need to another's capacity are in control, not me.

Lack of Pliancy: I've already talked about my unwillingess to be shaped by others' needs. I build walls, it keeps people out, but it makes me brittle and tired and ugly. After meditating, I have spent some time actively not controlling or being controlled. It's like pressing on a trigger point in a muscle - there is acute pressure for a moment, like the very focused stillness of meditation, and once released the muscle or person is much mose fluid and better able to respond to hopes, demands, expectations of others.

Self-Absorption: I hide in my thoughts so that I can avoid experiencing my surroudings. Not that there is anything wrong with pondering or imagining, but the sort of frenzied mental masturbation that I have indulged in only serves to keep me stagnant as an actor in my own life. Right now, I won't say there are any aspects of self I won't take up again. I will probably find myself taking up many aspects over and over again. That's fine, little conception of self, I say. Don't worry, and if it happens, just let it go.

Gratitude: One aspect that I think I experience fairly regularly and hope will be strengthened is that there is usually a part of me that enjoys being confronted. Not responding confrontationally to another, but the part before where you feel affronted or disgruntled or somehow wronged. I like to step back at that point and enjoy the experience as a story being told. In the past I've tried to direct the story so that the heroine is clever, but I think now I'm aiming more for kind, loving, nurturing, or wise. It's good to give thanks for those moments because they are the only chances you have to refine your thoughts, speech, and actions and eliminate some of your misguided notions, as well as be a salve to others who suffer. The aspects I have not yet manifested with any consistency would include the opposites of my list, things like availability, humility (including self-forgiveness), compassion for others, pliancy, and peace of mind.

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