The Foundation Elements
1) Awareness of thoughts.
When sitting in meditation thoughts will arise. Do not follow the thoughts but let them go. You should not try to suppress thoughts or try to prevent their creation. Thoughts are natural to the mind and so having a mind devoid of though is unnatural and therefore difficult to do. Awareness of thoughts is like sitting beside a stream, with autumn leaves slowly floating past. As a leaf comes into view you acknowledge its existence, but without any analysis, as it float by. But consider this; who lets the thoughts go? We are so caught up in our thoughts that we believe that our mind is these thoughts. However this busy, noisy mind, known as the “Ordinary Mind”, provides the path to the “True Mind”. By being aware of thoughts we are on the path to the True Mind. And this practice also includes feelings, like anger, that we need to have awareness of. Being lost in anger means that we are anger. Having an “observer” within us that is aware of the anger separates the mind from the anger. This is a very powerful practice on the path to the True Mind. It should be part of our daily practice, and not just restricted to meditation.
2) As Is
“As Is” means exactly that; as is. When we see an object, our Ordinary Minds busily places layers of values, judgements and feelings onto it; a process that we are mostly unaware of. To illustrate; a friend went out to his front yard to water the garden on a summers evening. Suddenly he saw a large menacing snake. He rushed inside the house to get his friends. When they saw the snake they laughed- it was the garden hose. These layers are not the true object, in fact the true object can only be revealed (ie “as is”) when these layers are removed. When we are “as is” during meditation we drop the sense of “I am”. There is no office worker, no accountant, no brother, no mother, no “I am this..” or “I am that..”. In fact when we are “as is” during meditation there is no sense of being in meditation. Being “as is” and seeing others “as is” in our daily practice will result in more happiness in our lives. It may be argued that “seeing”* the world “as is” means that we no longer experience the positive aspects of the world around us, such as the beauty of a tree. But this is incorrect. We still “see” the “layers”, but now they are transparent to reveal the truth beneath.
In the acclaimed movie American Beauty one of the characters often videos events around him, even the most trivial. But there is one piece of film footage that moves him deeply.
“Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I ever filmed? It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing. And there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just… dancing with me … like a little kid begging me to play with it….“
This is the link to that scene; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHxi-HSgNPc
The unexpected beauty in this scene is because the bag is no longer a plastic bag but is as is.
(* when see is used in quotations, it does not just mean the visual sense, but the fuller meaning of the word)
“If even there’s a hair breadths difference, it is like that between heaven and hell” is a fundamental teaching. One interpretation is that when all we “see” are the differences, then there is nothing but differences. We call this living with Duality. As an example, we may like eating apples but dislike eating lemons. But if we see both the apple and the lemon as is, then neither possesses “likeability” or “dislikeability”, they simply are as they are. It is our mind that attaches the”likeability” or “dislikeability” to these fruits. They are definitely different of course, for example the apple has the condition of containing sugars whilst the lemon has the condition of containing citric acid. When we “see” a hair breadths difference that creates the chasm between heaven and hell then search for that difference. When things are seen as is then that difference can only be found in the Ordinary Mind- but this can only be found by searching. All of us have feelings about ourselves, we like some aspects and might even hate other aspects. But during meditation we should drop these likes and dislikes so that they fade into non-Duality, and we should carry this practice into our everyday life.