Yoga Blog

OCTOBER 25, 2012

Some Hints On Practicing

Posted by Dorothy under Community Interests, Interesting Reads, Philosophy, Wellnessno responses

In our lives, we constantly talk about practicing to attain perfection. How much one practices and how much one will gain depends on the mindset during the practice. Sometimes, more effort does not mean better results or less effort, lesser results. To understand  how or why one should reconsider the way their practice is being done, I have decided to post the following text. This text is an excerpt from the compilation of a Thai Meditation Teacher, Achaan Chah‘s teachings in a book entitled ” A Still Forest Pool – The Insight Meditation of Achaan Chah “.

As you practice, various images and visions may arise. You see an attractice form, hear a sound that stirs you- such an image must be observed too. This kind of vipassana image can have more energy than one that may arise from simple concentration. Whatever arises, just watch.

Someone recently asked me, “As we meditate and various thing arise in my mind, should we investigate them or just note them coming and going?” If you see someone passing by whom you do not know, you may wonder, “Who is that? Where is he going? What is he up to?” But if you know the person, it is enough just to notice him pass by.

Desire in practice can be a friend or a foe. At first, it spurs us to come and practice; we want to change things, to understand, to end suffering. But to be always desiring something that has not yet arisen, to want things to be other than they are, just causes more suffering.

Someone asked, “Should we just eat when hungry, sleep when tired, as the Zen masters suggest, or should we experiment by going against the grain at times? And if so, how much?” Of course, one should experiment, but no one else can say how much. All of this is to be known within oneself. At first, in our practice, we are all like children learning to write the alphabet. The letters come out bent and sloppy, time and again-the only thing to do is to keep at it. And if we do not live life like this, what else is there for us to do?

A good practice is to ask yourself very sincerely, “Why was I born?” Ask yourself this question three times a day, in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night.

The Buddha told his disciple Ananda to see impermanence, to see death with every breath. We must know death; we must die in order to live. What does this mean? To dies is to come to the end of all our doubts, all our questions, and just be here with the present reality. You can never die tomorrow, you must die now. Can you do it? Ah, how still, the peace of no more questions.

Real effort is a matter of the mind, not the body. Different methods of concentration are like ways of earning a living-the most important thing is that you feed yourself, not how you manage to get the food. Actually, when the mind is freed from desires, concentration arises naturally, no matter what activity you are engaged in.

Drugs can bring about meaningful experiences, but the one who takes a drug has not made causes for such effects. He has just temporarily altered nature, like injecting a monkey with hormones that send him shooting up a tree to pick coconuts. Such experiences may be true but not good or good but not true, whereas Dharma is always both good and true.

Sometimes we want to force the mind to be quiet, and this effort just makes it all the more disturbed. Then we stop pushing and some concentration arises. But in the state of calm and quiet, we begin to wonder, “What’s going on? What’s happening now?” and we are agitated again.

The day before the first monastic council, one of the Buddha’s disciples went to tell Ananda, “Tomorrow is the Sangha Council. Others who attend are fully enlightened.” Since Ananda was at this time still incompletely enlightened, he determined to practice strenuously all through the night, seeking full awakening. But in the end, he just made himself tired. He was not making any progress for all his efforts, so he decided to let go and rest a bit. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he became enlightened. In the end, we must learn to let go every last desire, even the desire for enlightenment. Only then can we be free.


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