06 The Uncommon Revolution of Preliminary Practices, Point 2 - Seizing our Bounty of Opportunities

03 Aug 2015

Alan began by reminding us that during the practice of Mindfulness of Breathing to just note sensations arising by surrendering all identification with them rather than identifying or claiming them. Shantideva was emphatic about developing an “I-it” relationship with all 84,000 catalogued mental afflictions. Alan quoted from one of his favourite Shantideva verses (Ch 3, v 11) “As a result of surrendering everything there is nirvana, and my mind seeks nirvana surrendering everything all at once. This is the greatest gift to all sentient beings”. Alan called this an amazing idea, and noted in surrendering everything one is just resting - discovery shamatha rather than developing it.

The meditation is on Mindfulness of Breathing.

Following meditation practice, Alan commented on the worthwhile value of discursive or analytical meditation (as emphasised in the Lam Rim). However his observation of students’ practice over the years is that cultivating our shamatha practice of Mindfulness of Breathing results in a shift of priorities in our lives towards greater appreciation of Dharma that taps into a deeper reality engendering a sense of well-being. This then provides the incentive for discursive meditation to develop understanding of Bodhicitta and the Four Immeasurables.

Alan then discussed point 2 of the text “The Foolish Dharma” (see Mahamudra Retreat Notes), noting the bounty of opportunities in the 6 independent variables of our body, environment etc, presents a highly unlikely set of circumstances. Hence if we find ourselves in this situation (as retreatants do), we should seriously apply the Dharma to one’s life so that it permeates our view of being in the world.

Questions: 1) During meditation practice involving counting the breath, when the mind activity settles there is sometimes a lack of ability or arousal to keep counting - what should I do about this? 2) During meditation practice what is your advice on posture and eye gaze in sitting and supine positions? 3) What are the advantages of meditating in the supine position?

Meditation starts at 14:08

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