May 18, 2022 at 2:59 pm #956David FilipponeModerator
Photo: ‘Clear Seeing’ by Andreas Zimmermann – Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/soap-bubbles-heaven-soap-bubble-6015215/
I’ve been studying the path of self exploration as set forth in the book ‘Revelations of Mind,’ by Tarthang Tulku, and through the books of inclusive commentary on it, entitled, ‘Searcher Reaches Land’s Limits,’ by Richard Dixey, and I’ve attended his many months of classes on the subject going back to Aug, 2021. To continue deepening my understanding, I am now enrolled in a repeat of those classes taught by Ron Purser. I love the material and its practices, and have been working with them for almost a year. Having said that, I am no authority on the subject, just a dedicated student. I’ve been focusing on developing openness, what Richard Dixey points to as a precursor for the development of vipasana… clear seeing, as he writes, is “without a story to give it meaning… that nakedness, that openness, that is the essential precursor” for that clear seeing. And I am also working on developing the stability of shamata, the ability to rest in that clear seeing, which he describes as “the edge of the known.”
There are a number of short practices that Richard employs in the book that can help us to recognize those glimpses of open clear seeing, one practice listed in the quotes below is entitled, Listening with and without me. Essentially, after identifying sounds, you then stop identifying them. The practice states, “[When} you don’t identify sounds. But just remain there, alert, resting in not-knowing. We have reached land’s limits.” And that’s what this post is leading up to. For about a year, I’ve also been working every night with another practice for clear seeing, multiple times per night. And I will describe that practice after these quotes, which help provide context. Here are the quotes…
“PAGE 112, PARAGRAPH 3 [Revelations of Mind]: Our ordinary way of knowing, shaped within the regime of mind, is linear and flat, relatively devoid of the vital dynamic of creativity and revelation. When the mind points to an object and we recognize it, it is because we understand the labels and the meaning, all of which are products of the past. When all the labels and associations have been properly arranged, we may weave more thoughts about the object or experience into our story. While this follows the reality-rules established by mind, this is only one way of enriching our story. There are other ways we have yet to explore, and some have the potential to penetrate the all-encompassing envelope of mind.”
“Let’s review for a moment. Vipasana is about seeing clearly. To see clearly means that we don’t have a story of seeing. Most of us are not meditating at all—we are just sitting within a story of meditation. There’s the beginner’s luck phenomenon where you start off by observing the mind and you get huge insights. But then it all stops. The reason it stops… is because the mind has understood the new experience and has embedded it within a story. Then when you meditate again you are not meditating like a novice—you are meditating now within a story of meditation. It becomes a ritual with an expectation of a remembered result. The cup is now full.
But we have to empty that cup to have genuine experience; we must realize that we don’t understand. The problem is that we can’t imagine what life would be like without a story to give it meaning—yet it is that nakedness, that openness, that is the essential precursor to vipasana. We need the stability of shamata, but then we need to develop the courage to rest beyond the story. If we can rest there, we are resting like the searcher who has reached land’s limits. We’re resting on the edge of the known. Don’t expect anything. It’s not understood. The moment we expect anything, we’ve embedded it back into a story.”
“PAGE 113, PARAGRAPH 1 [Revelations of Mind]: In this light, it is possible to reinterpret mind’s signals to turn back when the borders of conceptual construction loom before us as an invitation to proceed. Acknowledging that we do not understand gives mind pause; its minding operations are briefly put on hold, allowing glimpses of a new, more liberated way of understanding—one that does not require that clever person in the background of our minds to take on the endless task of interpretation.”
“Exercise 15 – Listening with and without me
Just sit with your eyes closed, preferably next to an open window. Listen to the sounds pouring in. For three minutes, try to identify each sound, where it is coming from, and what it is. Use your hearing as a precise sensory organ like a blind person does. Really create as accurate a sound image as you can. In a second three-minute session, drop it. Drop all that identification totally. The more you have concentrated in the first half, the more for the next few minutes you can just allow sounds to happen. There is no outside, inside, left or right. Within that difference there is an important contrast. Just allow sounds to happen. Experience the difference between the first and second sessions. You may find yourself fantasying all kinds of ideas when you don’t identify sounds. But just remain there, alert, resting in not-knowing. We have reached land’s limits.”
….’Searcher Reaches Land’s Limits,’ Volume I, by Richard Dixey, Chap 21, p. 261-2 [Emphasis in bold added]
The practice I’ve been using every night to ‘open clear seeing’, is not something I invented, it’s actually using language to pose a question to the mind, that momentarily seems to short-circuit those minding activities described in the first quote above. When the mind is a steady hum of thoughts, stories, and associations, they tend to confine us within them.
So here’s what happens for me… at my advanced age, I get up often in the middle of the night to use the bathroom facilities. By the time I get back into bed, the mind-display is beginning to re-activate. I know that if I allow thoughts and conceptualizing to continue, I will get carried away by them and will not easily fall back to sleep. Richard Dixey writes: “’Who?’ is a sword that cuts through concepts because “who” is not looking for a conceptual answer. “Who?” is an existential question. When you ask, “Who is looking?” you are turning the conceptual apparatus around on itself. This causes interesting results. First of all, it causes a sense of mild confusion. It is an almost incomprehensible thing to ask… [but] it cuts through those associations that so dominate our experience.” ‘Searcher…’ Chap. 19, p. 237
So when I ask: “Who is engaging the mind display?” I don’t continue on imagining possible answers, I’m looking for the ‘self’ who is engaging with the display of mind. For a brief interval nothing presents but the openness of the question: no stories, no thoughts, objects, memories or concerns… just open awareness. That is the clarity I rest in for scant seconds. When thoughts or images begin to re-arise, I ask again, “Who is engaging the display?” I repeat as necessary. That extends the openness, short-circuiting the regime of mind, I continued like this, resting in non-conceptualizing, as body and mind calm down, and sleep comes easily.
I also discovered that while I was able to use resting in that momentary openness, I could momentarily “remain there, alert, resting in not-knowing.” And I could do this during the day to stay alert, and NOT fall asleep. That was interesting. I could be alert and aware, at least momentarily, without the gravity of the known weighing in on mind. Richard Dixey writes:
“The regime makes decisions and judgments, and places us firmly in space and time. But in dancing with the regime, the dance is outside of place and time in a very real way, and outside judgments. It is just like asking, “Who?” That is a pointed question; it’s also a ‘point’ question. There is no history to it. It is in a sense ending the clock. In becoming free of the regime, the world stops—the world of all that conceptualizing, “this-ing” and “that-ing”, putting together and making sense. All that comes to a stop in the dance, because the dance of the question ‘who’ is outside of it. It is important to see it in that way—to see that human history in many ways goes around in circles precisely because it’s within this mechanism of perception and association. In stepping outside it, history stops. The dancer moves in a direction that is completely unpredictable—not within that association set at all.”
…’Searcher…’ by Richard Dixey, Chapter 20, p. 246 [Emphasis in bold added]
May 24, 2022 at 3:00 pm #958Michael GrayModerator
So many dimensions of how a restless mind prevents us from feeling at home on the edge: preventing us from going back to sleep when our rest has been interrupted; from noticing what is all around us because we paper it over with well-worn concepts; from the potential of life on the planet being corralled and curtailed in the momentums of history. Imagine how rock climbers sleep half-way up a sheer cliff as the winds howl. Like babies about to be born and continue to climb in a new day.
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