I think for the most part, I’m in alignment with the film’s general perspective & overall viewpoint (with the exception of a few views/statements in the film, especially towards the end). I plan to follow-up this blog post at some point with a post about awareness & emptiness so we can take the conversation further.
Tag Archives: emptiness
Sometimes I arrange private sessions with people. Sometimes I teach a small group on Skype. Sometimes it’s just me all alone. However it turns out to be, meditation inspires me & has become my passion.
I want to share with you how I see meditation & how I teach it. I teach it how I do it. Even though I have been trained in several traditions: Zen, Vipassana, Metta, mantra repetition, & other Hindu & Buddhist methods & techniques, the way I teach meditation comes intuitive to me. But if someone preferred another method, like one of the ones I have studied in the past, I would be happy to meditate with them in that way. I really enjoy those methods. But today, we’ll do it this way…
I want you to get comfortable. Forget everything. Be nothing. Simply relax. Don’t work. The goal is not to get rid of thoughts; not to repeat anything; not to focus the mind; not to concentrate on anything. There is no goal. Simply relax. And if you are wondering how to relax, the best way I can instruct that is to say: let go. When I say let go, I don’t mean that you need to release anything literally. There is nothing you need to detach from, or physically let go of.
Don’t think of letting something go as if you were in a boat detaching yourself from a pier, or detaching yourself from your thoughts — or anything else that may be preventing you from relaxing. That is not what I mean by let go. What I mean is more like this: imagine yourself in a boat, just you. And the boat has a huge beautiful sail. You are sitting in this boat in the middle of the ocean. And for some reason you are paddling like crazy, trying to get somewhere. Stop that! Can you not see that the boat already has a sail? The boat, the water, the wind, the sail, they will do the work for you, there is no need to struggle. You can lean a bit to direct it, or move the sail about, but don’t try to override the wind, water & sail. Who do you think you are? (*laughing*) You, your paddle, & your fear will not get you anywhere. Trust. Let go. Put the paddle down & relax.
For me meditation is all about being relaxed & fearless. My best ideas come to me during meditation. My life feels effortless when I maintain a regular practice. Everything becomes clear after I meditate (especially when I’m in need of answers). To perform at a top level, most coaches or experts will tell you that being relaxed & fearless is the key to phenomenal success. There is so much power in letting go.
So as you sit there, or lie there. Just relax. Let go of any fears you have about doing it right, or if it’s a waste of time, or if you understand it or its purpose. When I say let go, I don’t mean rid yourself of that thought. I mean allow it. Let it be there until it feels that it is no longer needed. It’s like a waiter hovering around to take your order or to clear your table. If he sees you are engrossed in the menu as you see what it has to offer, or completely busy eating your meal, he’ll give you some space & leave you be. You don’t need to feel that you need to get rid of him. You’ll need him later. Allow him to return when the time is right, & allow him the honor of deciding when that is. Be kind to your thoughts & to yourself. Just like you would to another person. Allow them to be.
There is no fixed time to meditate: 2 minutes to 2 hours, it makes no difference. But I will say, that for me, meditating twice a day in two short sessions feels more impactful than mediating for one long session once a day. That being said, I hardly meditate twice a day. I usually do a 20-30 minute session in the morning, & if I can grab other mini-moments to close my eyes & “let go”, I do. I especially like when I am riding the subway train & instead of reading a book, I just sit. Sometimes it’s with eyes open, sometimes I close them. But to take the time to just sit feels like a gift.
When I meditate with friends on Skype, I usually read a little something to them. (Sometimes I talk them through a full body guided relaxation too, it just depends on what feels right at that moment.) Yesterday I read a wonderful verse from the Tao Te Ching. I want to share it with you because after I read it I thought, “Wow, this is beingness, this is meditation, this verse describes it perfectly!”
“We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.
We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.”
― Lao Tzu
[Little side note: Lao Tzu uses “non-being” the same way I use “beingness”. We use different words to describe the same thing.]
I shared Lao Tzu’s words with you because I wanted you to see that there is no goal with mediation because what you are looking for is already there. Just like the emptiness in the clay pot, or the livable space in a house, you already are peace, spaciousness, clarity, effortlessness, love, fearlessness & all of the other things that you think meditation might bring to your life. All you have to do is to stop trying so hard. Stop trying to control everything. Put the paddle down & relax. See that the Universe is holding you up. The ocean, the boat, the water, the wind, the sail — it’s all there. Allow it to take you to where you need to go. Allow yourself to enjoy the ride. — It doesn’t mean that you will be passive in life, & as a result no longer care; no longer want to make things happen or have goals. It just means that you will no longer suffer over them.
[I will be writing a series of instructional posts on mediation, as well as writing an ebook on the topic. I couldn’t go into depth in this blog post do to the amount of people that do not like long blog posts. So I try my best to write my posts in various (but manageable) lengths. The essence of what I want to say about meditation is here. Everything you need to know about meditation is in this blog post. Meditation is VERY-VERY simple. Please do not think that it is complicated. It’s just an ancient topic, so there has been much information written about it to process & to experience if one is interested. If you would like to meditate with me or have questions regarding meditation, please feel free to email me. I would be glad to work with you in any way I can. I love mediating with people & I love the topic.]
Today I feel like I want to share the same Seng-Ts’an poem, but instead of the translation by Stephen Mitchell, I want to post the Richard B. Clarke version. I definitely recommend reading both. The two poems paint a picture of the indescribable in their own unique way — yet both lead us equally to the same truth: truth beyond words.
Hsin-hsin Ming: Verses on the Faith-Mind
The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail. The Way is perfect like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things. Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness. Be serene (without striving activity) in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves. When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain in one extreme or the other you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality. The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source. At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness. The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance. Do not search for the Truth; only cease to hold opinions.
Do not remain in the dualistic state — avoid such pursuits carefully. If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion. Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached to this One. When the mind exists undisturbed (in the Way) nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist (in the old way).
When no discriminating thoughts arise, the (old) mind ceases to exist. When thought-objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish. Things are objects because of the subject (mind); the mind (subject) is such because of things (object). Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality — the Unity of Emptiness. In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable and each contains in itself the whole world. If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute — the faster they hurry, the slower they go — and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited; even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray. Just let things be in their own way, and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things (your own nature), and you will walk freely and undisturbed. When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden, for everything is murky and unclear, and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness. What benefits can be derived from distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas. Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with true Enlightenment. The wise man strives to no goals but the foolish man fetters himself. There is one Dharma (Truth, Law), not many; distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant. To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest of all mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion; with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking. All dualities come from the ignorant inference. They are like dreams or flowers in air — foolish to try to grasp them. Gain and loss, right and wrong — such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.
If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease. If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence. To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally, the timeless Self-essence is reached. No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relational state.
Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion, and both the state of movement and the state of rest disappear. When such dualities cease to exist, Oneness itself cannot exist. To this ultimate finality no law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the Way all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.
In this world of Suchness there is neither self nor other-than-self. To come directly into harmony with this reality just simply say when doubt arises, “Not two.” In this “not two” nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth. And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space; in it a single thought is ten thousand years.
Emptiness here, Emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes. Infinitely large and infinitely small — no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen. So too with Being and non-Being. Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this.
One thing, all things — move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
By Seng-ts’an (520? – 606?)
Translation by Richard B. Clarke
The original translation as published in ZEN BOW 1968.