Tuesday, August 30, 2011

falling off the wheel

I've spent the past week playing with investigation of the elements of interdependent origination (dependent co-arising, dependent origination)- following them forward and backward, through arising and cessation, but keeping in mind that the processes are not linear, that elements arise together. I am being especially intrigued with ignorance as a condition for formations and with formations as a condition for consciousness.

I understand formations and consciousness to be always occurring, always flowing - that is, as long as we are alive, apparently alive. And that both of these, formations and consciousness (ordinary consciousness), are results (and cause) of interaction of this body/mind and its surroundings. Because everything we know or experience is a result of these interactions, it is all subjective, none of it is objectively true, but rather a kind of ignorance through limitations of perception (or misperception).

These mind/body interactions are necessary for us to live in the world. And they generally operate predictably within the world; but the world itself, the world we know, is built on these interactions and therefore not objectively true or real. We live and function in an illusion. If we recognize the illusory nature of things we are not trapped by experience.

...knowing and seeing in this way,
would you run back to the past thus:
'Were we in the past?
Were we not in the past?
What were we in the past?
How were we in the past?
Having been what, what did we become in the past?'

...knowing and seeing in this way,
would you run forward to the future thus;
'Shall we be in the future?
Shall we not be in the future?
What shall we be in the future?
How shall we be in the future?
Having been what, what shall we be in the future?

...knowing and seeing in this way,
would you now be inwardly perplexed about this present thus:
'Am I?
Am I not?
What am I?
How am I?
Where has this being come from?
Where will it go?
M 38:23

We are also not indifferent. The world we live in does include sorrow and joy. However, we can be free of the limitations in our perceptions and the resulting grasping of objects and views and choose to participate in more wholesome unfolding within this constructed world.

To see the source of this investigation and the other elements of the wheel read the Mahatanhasankhaya Sutta - The Greater Discourse on the Destruction of Craving M 38 or see related Practice Board entries at

Sunday, August 14, 2011

potential of a concentrated mind

A concentrated mind, according to early buddhist teachings, can become
rid of imperfection
attained to imperturbability

In the West we are not used to knowing the mind like this. We know, intellectually and scientifically, that the brain is plastic. Plastic, or plasticity, is a contemporary word that signifies the possibility of the descriptors of mind above.

A mind that is malleable, wieldy, pliable, and steady is capable of real transformation. If you become serious about your personal meditation practice, if you give the mind time and opportunity to develop concentration, you can realize this potential.

You might keep in mind that, "this flexibility of mind is not impossible to attain, it is another thing to maintain." (quoting myself in Practice Board entry)

A course or two, even sitting every day, does not yield an ongoing transformational process. A course and a regular sitting are a good start. But a significant evolution of mind involves a steady and committed practice, a process that is usually gradual and organic, but includes dedicated time for fostering a concentrated mind. With support the mind discovers these truths.

Periodic teacher input will save you from invisible roadblocks and circuitous side tracks.

The teachings I offer are all intended to help as many people as possible realize this potential. The most immediate and accessible opportunity is a non-residential retreat for both new and experienced meditators in Houston August 19 and 20 http://www.citta101.com/retreats.htm

Monday, August 1, 2011

the breathing body remembers

The self begins as an extension of the breathing flesh of the world, and the things around us, in turn, originate as reverberations echoing the pains and pleasures of our body.

...the inwardly felt sentience of the child is a correlate of the outwardly felt wakefulness of the sky and the steadfast support of the ground, and the willfulness of the caressing wind;
it is a concomitant of the animate surroundings.

Only much later, as the child is drawn deeply into the whirling vortex of verbal language...is the contemporary child liable to learn that...human persons alone are the carriers of consciousness in this world.

Such a lesson amounts to a denial of much of the child's felt experience, and commonly precipitates a rupture between her speaking self and the rest of her sensitive and sentient body. Yet the pain of this rupture is quickly forgotten by the speaking self...

But the breathing body, this ferociously attentive animal, still remembers.

Please see the original text. This is abbreviated for a brief taste. I am quoting David Abrams from his new book Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. He uses language to bring us outside or beneath language.

I am savoring this text, reading it a little at a time and carrying the felt sense into my daily life, city life. You are welcome to work through this text with me (very slowly). At this time I am posting brief excerpts and reflections on Abram's Becoming Animal on the Citta 101 Practice Board.