24 Sep 2012
Alan notes that we’re starting the second half of the retreat. Afterwards, when we return to an active way of life, while our shamatha practice may be maintained at best, other practices may indeed flourish. In an active life, the practices of the 4 applications of mindfulness can shift how we view reality in accordance with the 3 marks of existence, gradually becoming unstuck. Similarly, as our best friends, bodyguards even, the 4 immeasurables can be practiced in everyday life as we engage with others. Together, both sets of practices represent wisdom and skillfull means. So that we may train in the 4 immeasurables as in previous retreats, Alan will now dedicate the morning sessions to guided meditations of the 4 immeasurables.
Meditation: loving-kindness. Ask yourself the following 4 questions in sequence, envision your response clearly, practice the corresponding exercise, and imagine your vision becoming reality in the here and now. 1) What will make you truly happy? With every out breath, light from your heart flows into this vision. 2) What would you like to receive from those around you to help make your vision possible? With every in breath, receive light from sentient beings flowing in from all directions, giving you all that you need. 3) What qualities of body, speech, and mind would you like to be freed of and imbued with so that you can transform into the person you would like to become? With every out breath, light of purification transforms you breath by breath into that person. 4) What would you love to offer to the world? With every out breath, light from your heart emanates, taking the forms of all you wish to offer. Finally, may we all find happiness and the causes of happiness! With every out breath, imagine it to be so.
Meditation starts at 5:30
So we are now into the second half of our journey (the retreat). And now and then it may be helpful to be anticipating, going wherever you are going from here and if you are going back to a socially engaged, I never call it the real world, but the socially engaged, active way of life, and as I’ve mentioned before, and it’s quite obvious, you can expect that the sense of the stability of attention, the release from the rumination that you may have experienced a little bit will diminish as your mind is caught up in many, many concerns and activities. Nevertheless, of course, as I’ve mentioned also before, maintaining some regular practice of shamatha even in an active way of life is very helpful, even if you are not progressing along the nine stages, it really should, you should see for yourself it will really be a great benefit to your whole day.
But as for the other practices, the four applications of mindfulness there is no real reason why that practice, that set of practices should diminish simply because you are actively engaged. Now if you take those teachings, the practices and the theories related to them as more like simply book learning that, ok, now I understand that if I ever need to I can teach that or I know that if I read a text I can understand it, then it is more just like picking up baggage and you’re going to carry that with you but it’s not really doing you any good.
Whereas if we take the theories and practices of the four applications of mindfulness as really learning how to view reality with greater discernment, greater insight, cutting through delusions, breaking old cognitive patterns of cognitive hyperactivity where we’re superimposing our own projections, cognitive deficit where we are simply not attending closely to whatever is taking place. If we really shift our whole way of viewing reality by way of those four applications of mindfulness, well that will just get richer and richer and richer and it will change everything. It really will bring about a profound revolution in the way you engage with reality, especially if you attend to these aspects, these marks of existence, of impermanence, it is such a powerful truth or the realization of it is so powerful, subtle and coarse impermanence, to really be viewing reality in terms of what is the true cause as opposed to the cooperative conditions.
What is the primary cause, an essential cause for suffering and for happiness? And then exactly in what manner is anything really “I or mine” or is anything really “I or mine”? But viewing these things and in so doing letting your life itself be an expedition not a simply a meditative practice you pick up and put down. But your life itself is an expedition, a way to ex your peds, get your feet out of those old ruts where they have been stuck. Right? So as the four applications of mindfulness, the vipashyana practices do not need in any way to diminish as you leave this cloistered environment (Mind Center), but it can actually really radically transform all of your experience thereafter, this is equally true of the four immeasurables, No reason those should diminish.
So as we are now into the second half of our retreat I thought what I would do is rather than simply having silent meditations in the mornings, which is actually always my preference. I came here to be of as much service as I can and not simply to go into solitary retreat, I thought it might be helpful in these mornings sessions now to go back to the four immeasurables, cycle through them as I have in the earlier retreats, cycle through them, get more familiar with them because these, as I love to say, these will be your four best friends when you leave here, your bodyguards and if they are coupled with the four applications of mindfulness then you have a whole constellation of body guards, around you. And then you will really see the wonderful interface between the cognitive basis of the four applications of mindfulness and the way that the four immeasurables are supported by this deepening insight into ourselves and others.
(4:51) And then you will see that, “Oh! It’s not one way traffic.” That your four immeasurables, the practice of the four immeasurables opens up and deepens your practice of the four applications of mindfulness, deepens it as you are attending to the body, etc, externally, when you do so with the eyes of loving kindness, compassion and so forth, it deepens it. So in this way, we will really see I think the deeper meaning or more of the depth of the meaning of the mudra of the left hand, the mudra of meditative equipoise where the left hand symbolizes wisdom, right hand symbolizes skillful means, the four immeasurables, and then your shamatha is right there in the middle to unify them. And you will notice it looks a little bit like a pyramid. So then you know what that’s about. The pyramid has relaxation at its base, stability in the center and right there the tips where the finger nails are, that is where your vividness is. Okay?
Find a comfortable position.
Settle your body, speech and mind in their natural states. In terms of the mind calm the turbulence of the conceptual mind by way of mindfulness of breathing for a few minutes.
(9:40) As our motivation for the second half of this retreat let’s turn to the meditative cultivation of loving kindness and return, but as if for the first time, to the four questions leading to four quests and the first of these is: what do you envision would bring you the happiness that you seek, the fulfillment, the satisfaction, the meaning in your life, what would make you truly happy, hedonically and eudaimonically? Envision this clearly as you can, your heart’s desire.
(11:16) And with each out breath, breathe out this light from your heart and breathe it into this vision, breathing out with the aspiration of loving kindness: may it be so. May I find such happiness and its causes, may I be truly well and happy. And with each out breath allow this breath to flow out and utterly permeate your body and mind, dispelling, banishing all obstacles and obscurations.
(13:15) And with each out breath as this light suffuses your entire being move into that realm of possibility, transcending the realm of actuality and imagine realizing such wellbeing here and now.
(14:15) And now let’s set out on the second quest. In order to realize such wellbeing, such fulfillment, what would you love to receive from the world around you, from those who are near and far, in the short term and in the long term to enable you to find the happiness and fulfillment you seek? And envision it clearly.
(16:00) With each in breath arouse the spirit of loving kindness, the aspiration: “May I truly receive all that I actually need for my hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing.” With each in breath imagine the blessings of the enlightened ones and the kindness of all sentient beings flowing in upon you from all sides in the form of radiant white light. Imagine receiving all that you truly need from moment to moment, day to day.
(18:13) Each step of your path on the path to liberation, to awakening, imagine reality rising up to meet you, providing all that you truly need.
(19:30) Then let’s turn to the third quest: clearly it is impossible to realize our heart’s desire, to find our greatest fulfillment simply with a lot of hope from outside, with a lot of cooperative conditions. There must be internal transformation, freedom from all that obstructs and the cultivation of all the genuine causes of happiness and wellbeing. And so in the same spirit of loving kindness, not simply a wagging finger saying what you should do, what you should do, but rather now envision what would you love, from what qualities of body, speech and mind would you love to be free and with what qualities would you love to be richly imbued so that you may transform into the person you would love to become.
(20:58) And with each out breath, breathe out the light from the buddha-nature at your heart, the light of purification, a light of joy, a light of loving kindness permeating your entire being and imagine breath by breath here and now transforming into the person you would love to become.
(23:50) And finally in order to endow your life with as much meaning as possible, the greatest possible degree of satisfaction, envision now what would you love to offer to the world around you drawing on your own unique background, your skills, your talents, your aspirations. What would you love to offer to those who are near and far in the short term and the long term. And with each out breath imagine this light from this inexhaustible source at your heart emanating out in all directions and imagine the light itself taking on the form of the goods you would love to offer. With each out breath arouse this aspiration of loving kindness with the yearning, “May we all find happiness and the causes of happiness.”
(26:30) And with each out breath imagine it to be so, venturing boldly into this realm of possibility, transcending all the limitations of the past.
(29:00) Release all aspirations, all objects of the mind and let your awareness rest in its own nature.
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Mark Montgomery
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Posted by Alma Ayon