51 “Tightly Focused, Loosely Relaxed” - The Shamatha Practice of Awareness of Awareness

27 Apr 2016

The theme for this session comes from the pith instructions that we’ve recently covered from the Panchen Rinpoche’s text (stanzas 16 to 23), which are prevalent in the Mahamudra lineage. Alan’s prelude to the meditation returns to the question concerning whether the space of the mind is either a sheer absence of appearances or whether it does have characteristics that can be ascertained i.e. it is transparent and 3-D. We will continue investigating the nature of consciousness through the practice of awareness of awareness, withdrawing from all appearances and then tightly focusing on the affirmative qualities of cognizance and clarity of awareness. Another element of consciousness that we are seeking to enter into or unveil is that which is free of conceptualisation. Alan therefore suggests that the quality of the awareness that we are seeking to access is a complex negation as there are two affirmative qualities (cognisance, luminosity) and an absence of a quality (non-conceptuality). The tightly focused part of the practice is on the affirmative qualities and then the loosely relaxing part is releasing the awareness into non-conceptuality.

Alan also speaks briefly on his new interpretation of the phrase “taking the impure mind as the path”, and similar phrases, where a more literal translation from the Tibetan on his opinion could be “taking the mind as my ride on the path”.

The meditation is guided on awareness of awareness, oscillating the awareness from being tightly focused to loosely relaxed.

Following meditation, Alan resumes the Panchen Rinpoche’s text transmission including some comments that: what we are reading we are immediately integrating into our current practice; the achievement of shamatha leads to mental pliancy and physical well-being due to the shift of the whole subtle energy system; and the ultimate reality of the mind cannot be apprehended conceptually.

At the end of the session, Alan says he has received requests for instructions on dream yoga (night-time vipashyana) which he will occasionally provide. His first instruction is to commit to prospective memory: upon awakening from sleep anytime, (1) recognise that you are waking up without further conceptualisation and (2) stay still physically and mentally. Then direct the attention backwards in time, and check: what is the last image you recall? If it was the last image of a dream, pursue it, see if you can recall your dream. This is the first step in the practice of lucid dreaming, and in this way the dream recall will gradually increase.

Meditation starts at 12:35

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