18 Nov 2010
We started with a silent meditation with free choice on practicing one of the Shamatha practices. Then Alan gave some examples of the path of Shamatha. He joked that commenting on your daily meditation practice as being “bad” or “good” or having “highs and lows” is like the habit of coming home to a spouse and reporting on your day. Alan encouraged us not to measure and evaluate our practice in a hedonic way, but rather to think about what we can bring to our practice in terms of motivation, and to evaluate our performance based on that. He gave the example of a farmer: a farmer doesn’t reap a harvest very quickly; it takes a while to plow the land, sow the seeds, etc. He said that he hopes we will respond to the question, “How is your practice?” by saying that we are doing “GREAT” (GREAT being the acronym for: “Gently but Relentlessly Easing and Arousing Tension”). In Shamatha it is necessary to “tune our instrument.” At times we’ll have to release and tighten the tension. This is the Middle Way.
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