Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Be Here Now, Peacefully - Easy New Practices

Practicing with Just Being Here

Consider these three practices to kept you here now:

1.     The Don’t-Ask-Anything/Just-Do-It practice

2.     The No-Expectations practice

3.     The Or-Not practice

The classic reminders to be here and now are to recapture your breath or to develop a background awareness of your body. These both work, and they have worked for two thousand years in Asian Buddhist monasteries. For non-monastic Westerners with young practices, setting an intention to maintain a behavioral mantra can be much more effective.

Don’t-Ask-Anything/Just-Do-It Practice

Consider what would happen if you entered each endeavor and activity, not with the stridency or the arrogance of your Self dictating your behavior, but with a profound commitment to the humility that tells you not to ask anything of anyone. This isn’t about being independent, it’s about learning to be comfortable. It isn’t about another form of assertion, it’s about . This isn’t about finding a new value for ourselves, it is about discovering the real lack of value in everything, which is the uncovering of emptiness.

This isn’t just a practice aimed at physical acts, like telling a kid to get you your coat, or telling someone in the office to bring you back a sandwich when they return from lunch. That change (and it is not a little change) can be an important part of the humility that retrains us to avoid the Three Conceits: I am better than you, I am worse to you, I am equal to you (SN 1.20). It is much more encompassing than just asking others to bring or things rather than just getting them ourselves. It is about neither comparing nor contrasting–not judging.

Beyond that, there is the arrogant of expecting others to entertain us. Isn’t this what most small talk is aimed at? And isn’t that why gossip and small-talk are specifically listed as wrong speech?

Right Speech

Only speak when it will improve the silence.

Here are the five elements of right speech:

1.     Only speak when conditions suggest you should speak
2.     Only speak when you have something to say that will be of benefit
3.     Always speak in ways that can be understood
4.     Only say it once
5.     Never go on the battlefield; being of benefit (right intention) isn’t about winning

While wrong speech could be accurately and broadly described as anything we say that isn’t right speech, there are traditional key elements to wrong speech:

            Harsh, mean-spirited or angry words
            Falsehoods and slander
            Gossip and small talk, and
            Belittling others to raise your own status

It is important to look at our intention in speaking: does it come from one of the three right intentions or does it arise from selfish and self-cherishing notions and desire that we have, from an intent to make ourselves appear superior, from a wish to do create enmity, from a need to do harm or a belief that we should acquires retribution?

There is also our mistaken belief that others share our misguided goal-orientations–“Friends don’t do that kind of thing,” ”Kids your age don’t do that anymore,” “If I loved her I wouldn’t feel this way or if she loved me she wouldn’t do that…” Pinning our happiness on future happenings, goals, is the antithesis of Buddha’s path, a path that is solely directed toward teaching us to live here, now.

And amazingly, there is a belief that others inhabit our world to satisfy our trumped up needs. Realizing that we only think of others when we focus on them, and that we only focus on them when we want something from them (bhava), should for those on our path, indicate was must find another way of relating, one that is not asking anything of others. The first paramita (dana http://northshoremeditation.blogspot.com/2009/08/generosity-its-our-original-nature.html) is the new course for those who have begun to deeply understand their true self-centeredness. [Bhava is the tenth link in the chain of dependent origination.]

1. The Practice

Pick a weekend to try this: in all your interactions with others, and in any anticipation of those or other soon-to-be interactions, set your intention with this mantra, repeating it to yourself over and over throughout the weekend until it seems natural: I won’t or I am not asking anything from this interaction; I will just do it, just be there. It’s that simple, or not.

Once you get a handle on what this practice is like, consider extending it to other days of the week. For those in an office, this can seem daunting at first.

No Expectations Practice

We, and the world, can get along quite comfortably without all our unnecessary posturing. We could just be a simple, direct and straightforward person. We could form a simple relationship with our world, our coffee, our spouse. To do this we must abandon our expectation that the world should always be other than what it is. In other words, we must come to recognize and realize here, now. We must come to know that our path is simply to be here, now, without expectations.

2. The Practice

The meta cognitive question that arises as a practice is: Whenever you are uncomfortable, nervous, anxious, stressed, frustrated, angered, or the like, just look at the situation that is seemingly the source of the problem and say to yourself, strongly, “I have no expectations; no expectations.”

Say it often enough and you will begin to see the world without expectations as a comfortable, confident person.
“Or Not” Practice

Opinions support our emotions which defend and protect our affinities and aversions, our preferences. That’s how Sengcan, the third patriarch of Chan, describes our dilemma in life.

Faith in Mind
First stanza, by Sengcan

至道無難 The Great Way is not difficult
唯嫌揀擇 for those who have no preferences.
但莫憎愛 When love and hate are both absent
洞然明白 everything becomes clear and undisguised.
毫釐有差 Make the smallest distinction, however
天地懸隔 and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
欲得現前 If you wish to see the truth
存順逆 then hold no opinions for or against anything.
相爭 To set up what you like against what you dislike
是爲心病 is the disease of the mind.
不識玄旨 When the deep meaning of things is not understood
徒勞念靜 the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

In fact, we use this triad (preference, supporting emotion, and justifying view), to process and express information. All of our stories, all of our views, all of our opinions are, as we know from studying the five aggregates and the twelve links, false and foolish.

2. The Practice

The best way to imbed this notion that all our notions are nonsense is to simply say “Or not” to ourselves, or when appropriate out loud, as a tag at the end of any declarative statement we hear ourselves making.

Another way to use “Or not”: when someone says something that you disagree with, that upsets you in any way, minor or major, or when anyone expresses an opinion, just say to yourself “Or not.”
Do this all day for a week or two until it becomes a habit.

“Or not” is a way of practicing with the two truths, one of the most important understandings on the Bodhisattva’s path. http://northshoremeditation.blogspot.com/2011/08/without-this-perspective-youll-never-be.html