Some days we want enlightenment, feeling that we are here to awaken from our ignorance. Some days we just want to be 'right' (in relation to another's 'wrong') and have our own way, remain in control of the show, and don't give much thought to waking up in the midst of the practice of our attachments, as attention gives way to identifying with the rants and raves of ego. 'Ego' as used here, is referring not to an existent entity, but to unconscious conditioned repetitive habit thoughts and reactions. Unless we set our day into motion with Aspiration and Prayers to awaken for the benefit of all beings, (ourself included), we will be easily pulled away from moment to moment practice, as our attention is continually distracted and waylaid by unconscious conditioned habit mind, exerting its influence in every moment.
A day will arrive when we need enlightenment like our next breath, and then every moment will serve awakening. We'll practice like our hair is on fire and not let it just burn with the passions of ignorance. Then, as phenomena appear (in our mind or 'out there') and as our reactions of aversion or grasping to these appearances arise, we'll remain attentive to what is going on, rather than be lost in it. The Practice of exposing habit mind becomes an ongoing opportunity to awaken from our sleep and dreaming.
We remember our Aspiration to Awaken and commit to consciously direct attention to the Real. It's called "practice" because it is just that, and there may be many hours in a day when we are deceived, lose our way, and identify with sham ego's processes. Attention becomes engulfed in the desire to be right, to be in charge, to direct the show, to push away what it doesn't want, and to grab at what it wants to keep the selfing process going, reacting and creating more suffering. May our suffering be great, and may we become conscious of how it all works, so that we don't need to keep on suffering in ignorance, and instead wake up and realize the possibility of moment to moment liberation from this suffering.
When our sense of being is continually identified with nonexistent but troublesome ego mind of ignorance, instead of resting in clear open Awareness throughout what is happening in that mind, our life force is instead taken over by the process of false ego selfing, as attention identifies with the contents of that habituated confused process.
With our daily aspiration and prayers to practice, we become more familiar with these patterns of distraction in the momentary magic shows of endless big bang creations of separate isolated ego thoughts. The incessant mental struggle to create separations from oneness, with habituated, conflated ideas and dreamt up distinctions, becomes more and more obvious, as our practice informs us. We can feel the subtle energetics and breathing in our body, as these mental states arise, and attention recognizes these confused thought processes. Our aspiration and prayers remind us to rest our attention in what is here now, in the sense of Being that is immoveable and unchanging, as all else arises and dissolves. We can remain at home, Awake in Awareness, Awake in Presence, moment by moment.
We need to do formal daily practice, if only for a few minutes, to remind us of why we are alive and breathing, and to set our aspirations and intentions for our day. We need to make daily Aspiration and Prayers to free us from habituated, conditioned activities of thinking and doing. We need to be inspired by daily aspiration, prayers and formal practice, no matter what sham ego has to say about it! We commit to do our daily practice to dissolve our identification with sham ego. Practice liberates attention away from identifying with sham ego narratives. Practice liberates attention into the Clear Emptiness Space of Awareness Luminous Awake Consciousness. There is no narrative necessary there, only immediate direct knowing through all arisings of thoughts, feelings, forms, states of mind, appearances, etc.
Without the daily Aspiration 'May I tame my mind today by remembering the correct View, Meditation and Right Action' first thing every morning, then ego will just give you its version of what enlightenment is once in awhile, and fool you into believing that you are on a spiritual path, while your life force is drained away, all worked up and lost in ignorance over and over. Sham ego loves to run the show with its random bullying and endless distractions and fixations from one object, experience or state of mind to another.
Sham ego ignorance endlessly tries to convince us with its stories—the inner narratives about appearances—to makes those phenomenal appearances seem real and solid and separate from a 'you', a 'perceiver', who is real and solid and separate from appearances.It keeps doing this with incessant inner narrative for every appearance, then another, and another, and another—ceaselessly on and on and on it goes, re convincing us that there is a separate existent I, who perceives a separate existent world of experience out there. Attention is often lost in the endless habit of the dualistic conditioning of the ego directing attention, fixating on one illusory object, then another as a real, solid, and separate object out there, with "me" a separate subject in here (ego cocoon) which is none other than 'yours truly' (sham ego here) directing its created show (out there).
Our precious human life becomes just a puppet for the action or the process of selfing of sham ego to play with, draining the life-force until this puppet unit dies. Instead of this dire scenario, we can commit to awaken and claim our birthright, discover and abide in our true nature, and in so doing realize the same true nature of all beings and all phenomenal appearances.
One of sham egos favorite attacks is to create self doubt by comparing its ideas of 'us' to its ideas of 'others'. If you think 'others' are happy and there is just something wrong with 'you', you have been hoodwinked. I read somewhere that one of the greatest errors plaguing us in modern times of social media, is that most of us compare our behind the scenes experiences of self doubt, inadequacy, unworthiness, distrust, and isolation with others' movie highlights, which they have glossed up on their social network page, or in a superficial conversation, trying to convince themselves and another of how wonderful deluded life is. Sham ego loves to compare its/our behind the scenes movie mishaps with others movie highlights. Its also good for the economy, as we rush to the stores to buy something to make us feel somewhat consoled in our misery.
So what then is the correct View, Meditation, and Action on a Spiritual Path of Awakening? These three terms are the ground of Buddhist teachings in the various schools of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana schools. What follows here is a very basic and simple presentation of a topic well deserving of your committed time and interest.
The view is an understanding that ripens through study, contemplation and meditation, culminating in the realization of the true nature of all appearances as Emptiness. Emptiness here is simply referring to the notion that appearance could be infinitely interpreted or known by different perceivers, as anything—appearing differently or somewhat similar for everyone. The View knows that appearances are dependent on the awareness and presence or absence of obscuring perceptions, colored by immeasurable causes and conditions involved in the emergence of those appearances for the perceiver.
These causes and conditions are the beginningless mysterious universal forces put into motion that interact enough to produce the illusion of an event or state of consciousness. The view is the knowing that these appearances are illusion like, and not what they appear to be (real, solid, separate, independent, out there 'things' that are separate from our awareness in which 'they' arise). The view knows that the 'perceiver' is also just an appearance based on the habit process of identification with the knowing of objects 'out there'. The view sees that our interpretations of appearances arise from what is commonly known as karma, or past moments of experience and conditioning, reactions and habitual ways of fixating our attention. This process further causes and conditions our future moments of interpretation of appearances. On and on it all goes, and where it stops nobody knows.
The most crucial cause and condition affecting our present moment's view of experience is the presence or lack of awareness of where our attention is. Is attention distracted out of Aware Presence by the appearances, and lost in its stories; or is attention resting in the Open Spacious Luminous Awareness simultaneously, as all appearances and states of mind arise and dissolve. Since there is nothing truly existent anywhere to begin with, which can be found or isolated to be a thing separate from everything else, we can never find the original cause of any event that we think has happened. However, ignorance keeps us forever distracted in its' game of conceptualizing and manipulating its fabrications of what it thinks are isolated causes and conditions. Ignorant sham ego's agenda is to control and create what it thinks will be circumstances conducive to what it thinks should be happening. Attention subservient to ignorant ego sham activity, looks to blame and reward circumstances and people for everything that it made up, and then tries to convince us is really happening out there. This conceptual quest for the origin of all our problems, keeps us very busy feeling angry, victimized, powerless and despondent.
Just like in a dream, in which all the characters appear to be out there to the dreamer, when we awaken from the dream, we know that we dreamt up all the characters in the dream, and were ignorantly having the seemingly real experience of enjoying or fearing them. These appearances in the dream, these characters and situations in the dream were not real, but illusory creations appearing as real, causing all kinds of emotional reactions in the mind and body of the dreamer. The View is an ongoing remembrance that our dreaming is based on a habit mind process of causes and conditions, as all things out there and in our own state of mind and moods continue to arise and dissolve. Our attention, informed by the correct View, increasingly remains familiar with, and is conditioned by the knowing that appearances have the nature of Emptiness. Attention recognizes and sees through the fathom like, ephemeral mirrors of our past mind moments of ignorance , delusions, fixations, reactions and conclusions. This understanding informs and accompanies our interpretation of our present experience as appearances arise in the present.
The View knows and sees through the multi colored conditioned system of ignorance, knowing it to be but an unexamined and unrecognized operation, apprehending appearances as real, solid, separate objects based on a foundation of unexamined habitual repeated perceptions, habits of thought, reactions, and fixations of deluded attention. There is no independent thing really there, outside of our own mind processes of habituated perception. Sometimes our habituation is consensual or similar enough that we hang out together and reflect that our views and opinions are based on fact, not relative perspective.
The View recognizes the ongoing process by which ignorance weaves a trance, a spell, a delusion moment by moment, distracting us like a well practiced magician from the truth and power of our being. Right View knows when ego's creations are playing out like a child having a tantrum, wanting all of our attention to become lost in its game of creation and story telling. Right View sees through sham ego's immanent capture of attention away from Clear Awareness, instead directing attention to fixate upon the contents or changing appearances within that Awareness. Sham ego is nothing but the habitual distraction of attention out of the knowing that Clear Presence of Awareness remains the very source, core, true nature and life blood of that or any other appearance as it is being experienced. Fixated attention is a lapse in consciousness.
The Meditation is the immediate, ongoing, ever-present, undistracted recognition or Awareness that sees through all appearances of mind, remaining undistracted in the immoveable and unchanging creative space that is simultaneously hosting all of the changing appearances arising and dissolving within it. Direct seeing or bare attention is a force that is not mistaken, because attention never separates from, or looses the context in which, appearances arise. Meditative Attention rests in a knowing wordless immediate Presence of Itself. Meditative Attention rests in an unmediated direct Knowing/Being of a spacious, clear, awareness that is the source of, the main ingredient of, all the phenomenal appearances arising in and of it.
The practice of Attention remaining undistracted in the Clarity and Spacious Presence in the Emptiness Nature of all appearances is the Meditation. Meditation is a practice of becoming familiar with the ground of our being which is Emptiness, as all appearances come and go. Because it is a practice, then the more we aspire and engage in it, the more the familiarity and Presence of Being becomes stronger and brighter in our attention. Attention resting in Awareness eventually remains at home wherever it goes, but it takes practice of bringing the View into our immediate experience, or of enlightening our immediate experience with the View.
Remaining undisturbed and at rest in the space in which all appearances and states of mind arise and dissolve, is the Meditation. Remaining in the Meditation of Emptiness/ Clarity/Awareness/Openness/Compassion is the greatest purification of karma, habitual tendencies and the causes and conditions that are bringing about our present moments experience. Attention on Clear Presence of Awareness is the greatest opportunity to burn away the seeds of our karmic ignorance, right in the moment that the ignorance is arising, trying to exert its influence on our perception of what is happening. Ignorance dissolves in Awareness. Karma which is fueled by ignorance is exhausted in the fire of Awareness.
We sit in formal meditation and rest attention in stillness and non action to settle our crazy wind energy of the mind that is pulling us here and there. We commit to precious moments of sacred pausing. Meditation on the breath allows the gross energies of crazy mind to settle, and the subtle wisdom energies to be felt in body/ mind. Sitting meditation allows concentration to develop enough to directly perceive the truth of the impermanence of all of our experience. With this unmediated direct insight of impermanence, we are certain, and there is no need for further narratives about what we directly know. Concepts are silenced in the brilliance of direct knowing. There is no longer the fearful or desirous need to control our experience, as impermanence and what is constantly changing is revealed in our Changeless Presence. The Presence that is changelessly there before, during and after changing appearances come and go, becomes brighter and brighter as attention rests there throughout all impermanent experience.
Meditation is the ongoing familiarizing with the empty nature of mind and appearances, again and again and again, Shining a light in the darkness of ego ignorance that would have us believe in itself and its creations. Clarity in Meditation sees through sham ego's creations, that act like a child having tantrums, always trying to capture attention away from the real to the false, stealing away our life force if we would allow it.
Sitting meditation allows us to feel the spaciousness of moments free of torture, and get used to that vast infinite spaciousness of sheer knowing. Sitting meditation helps us to bring our meditation off the cushion and into every moment of awareness and appearance. We need to gradually get used to the truth that is everywhere, birthing all appearances and the true nature of all those appearances. Sitting meditation is practice for developing ongoing undistracted meditation that becomes ever present, as attention is no longer distracted away from the Real.
Right Action is the ability to respond in any moment that we are awake, with whatever action is in accord with a great and magnificent dance of Love and Universal Unity. Right action arises out of the practice of selflessness, as ignorance and the delusions of a separate self are continually burned away, by attention resting in union with, its True Nature in the Light of a Clear Undistracted Awareness. Developing Trust in the Emptiness Nature of our mind, instead of being distracted in its endless contents is our Inner Guru/Teacher which then spontaneously guides us inappropriate to the moment Right Action. This is the unceasing expression of awakened heart and mind amidst unceasing appearances.
When we "stop, drop and breathe", "be kind and rewind", "breathe and rest in a sacred pause", interrupt the process of selfing we can then respond with compassion for all sentient beings (starting with yourself) This compassion is a direct sensation, a direct feeling of spaciousness and fearlessness, that comes from the unceasing practice of letting go of grasping and aversion moment by moment, as attention no longer identifies with the grasping and fear and aversion appearances of our mind.
A genuine Outer Guru/Teacher points you to this—to your Inner Guru/Teacher, to the Emptiness Nature of Mind that never forgets the Emptiness Nature of all Appearances of Mind, ever reminding you, that all that is appearing, is arising out of previous causes and conditions of karma and habit that have not yet been exposed and revealed to your understanding of the process of how ignorance works to constantly delude us. An authentic path exposes this ego for what it is (isn't) so that we become blessedly unidentified with it, no longer thinking it is who we are. The path reveals the True Nature of Being as Emptiness Clarity Openness Compassionate Presence.
It is crucial to awaken each morning and remember our Aspirations and Prayers for all beings in this world of suffering. We need a daily formal practice, come hell or high water of egos rants and raves. No matter what, you will not let sham ego get in the way of your daily practice that reminds you of Right View, Meditation and Action. Either we are practicing a path of awakening or we are causing more suffering.When we commit to a daily practice, ignorance dissolves in true understanding, delusions melt on an authentic path of Practice into Compassionate Brilliant Being.
As our practice deepens and expands, fake sham ego can't steal attention away from the authentic inner guru/teacher and teaching—which is simply every moment of Awake Awareness in the View, Meditation and Action. Appearances in Awareness become transparent energies flowing out of itself into itself. Blissful skillful energy emerges spontaneously, as we rest in Compassionate Spacious Presence, while all appearances are 'happening'. Awareness hosts and remains the stuff of whatever arises. Attention does not get lost in grasping and fixating on changing appearances, obscuring the simultaneous awareness of the reality and direct experience of the True Nature of those appearances.
If attention is momentarily distracted it is not for very long, as the light of undistracted awareness burns brighter and brighter as it is fueled by the offerings of ignorance on the Altar of our Aspirations and Prayers. We become fearless in the direct experience of the impermanence of all conditioned phenomena. We experience the fire of awareness burning through all of our conditioned hopes and fears. More and more through all experience, we learn to relax, open and breathe in the great infinite space of possibility and love. We stay at home for everything and allow life to surprise us over and over with its brilliance, love and healing.
-Andrea, Winter 2015