09 May 2016
“I’m in the mood for weaving” - with these words Alan begins the morning session. And he does weave together - loving kindness, Harry Potter, Stephen Hawking, Shakespeare, Shantideva and much more… Loving kindness stems from the primal drive of caring. Insofar as the mind rests in its natural state, this flow of caring is unimpeded - says Alan. If we rest in this state and someone is in pain or experiences great joy - our heart is moved. We care even for beings that are not real - movie and book characters for example (here Harry Potter fans may be interested to learn that Alan was truly saddened by the death of professor Remus Lupin…). It would therefore seem that the prospects for immeasurable loving kindness, great loving kindness and bodhicitta are good. However, barriers come up that impede this natural impulse of caring. What creates those barriers? Of course: grasping. Attachment and aversion. Conflating the person or a group of people with what they are not - behaviour, attitude, appearance. Alan quotes Paul Ekman saying that one of the fundamental errors is to equate a person with the behaviour. But we do not need to develop loving kindness for behaviour or attitude. They are not sentient beings. Words, bodies, institutions, political parties etc. are not sentient beings. Loving kindness and caring is for sentient beings. There is always a story behind a blocked flow of caring - continues Alan. And we tend to have the sense that our version of the story, our take on a person is right. Alan quotes William James who pointed out that we are prone to see our conclusions as the only logical ones. Alan instructs us to see who comes up during meditation and what barriers arise. He draws our attention to the fact that these appearances are always painted by our mind, with our colours, they have no existence outside our mind. The same is true for the sublime beings, like HH the Dalai Lama or the Buddha, and for the people we have difficulties with. They all are painted with our colours, by our mind. So when we find resistance to the flow of caring, it is because we are reifying appearances that do not exist outside our minds. We grasp to our version of the story as the only true story. Here Alan weaves together our personal histories with cosmology and quotes Stephen Hawking and Thomas Hertog’s paper on the “top-down” approach. According to Hawking and Hertog, bottom-up cosmology is possible only if we know all the initial conditions. But we don’t. Instead, our approach is top-down, meaning that our assessment of the past is based on the present. The resulting histories (plural) of the universe depend on the questions asked and the methods of measurement. They depend on what is being observed. Every possible version of the past exists in a quantum superposition state. The same is true about our personal histories - claims Alan. We think we are reconstructing history while in fact we are constructing it, making it up. We should therefore throw out the idea that there is one single true story. Our past with any person is a construction, a story that grew over time. If this story blocks our heart we should rewrite it, come up with a new one - advises Alan. And to conclude he reads two famous quotations - one from Shakespeare (“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…”) the other from Shantideva (“My enemies will not remain, nor will my friends remain. I shall not remain. Nothing will remain…”).
The meditation is on loving kindness.
The meditation starts at 29:30
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