using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 66 more tender, more in touch with the dream-like quality of reali- ty. Or we could bury all these qualities more deeply and get more in touch with solid mind, retreating more into our own cocoon. Every time a habitual pattern gets strong, every time we feel caught up or on automatic pilot, we could see it as an opportu- nity to burn up negative karma. Rather than as a problem, we could see it as our karma ripening, which gives us an opportuni- ty to burn up karma, or at least weaken our karmic propensities. But that’s hard to do. When we realize that we are hooked, that we’re on automatic pilot, what do we do next? That is a central question for the practitioner. One of the most effective means for working with that moment when we see the gathering storm of our habitual tendencies is the practice of pausing, or creating a gap. We can stop and take three conscious breaths, and the world has a chance to open up to us in that gap. We can allow space into our state of mind. Before I talk more about consciously pausing or creating a gap, it might be helpful to appreciate the gap that already exists in our environment. Awakened mind exists in our surroundings—in the air and the wind, in the sea, in the land, in the animals—but how often are we actually touching in with it? Are we poking our heads out of our cocoons long enough to actually taste it, experi- ence it, let it shift something in us, let it penetrate our conven- tional way of looking at things? If you take some time to formally practice meditation, perhaps in the early morning, there is a lot of silence and space. Meditation practice itself is a way to create gaps. Every time you realize you are thinking and you let your thoughts go, you are creating a gap. Every time the breath goes out, you are creating a gap. You may not always experience it that way, but the basic meditation instruction is de- signed to be full of gaps. If you don’t fill up your practice time with your discursive mind, with your worrying and obsessing and all that kind of thing, you have time to experience the blessing of your sur- roundings. You can just sit there quietly. Then maybe silence will dawn on you, and the sacredness of the space will penetrate. Or maybe not. Maybe you are already caught up in the work you have to do that day, the projects you haven’t finished from the day before. Maybe you worry about something that has to be done, or hasn’t been done, or a letter that you just received. Maybe you are caught up in busy mind, caught up in hesitation or fear, depression or discouragement. In other words, you’ve gone into your cocoon. For all of us, the experience of our entanglement differs from day to day. Nevertheless, if you connect with the blessings of your surroundings—the stillness, the magic, and the power—maybe that feeling can stay with you and you can go into your day with it. What- ever it is you are doing, the magic, the sacredness, the expansiveness, the stillness, stays with you. When you are in touch with that larger environment, it can cut through your cocoon mentality. On the other hand, I know from personal experience how strong the habitual mind is. The discursive mind, the busy, wor- ried, caught-up, spaced-out mind, is powerful. That’s all the more reason to do the most important thing—to realize what a strong opportunity every day is, and how easy it is to waste it. If you don’t allow your mind to open and to connect with where you are, with the immediacy of your experience, you could easily become completely submerged. You could be completely caught up and distracted by the details of your life, from the moment you get up in the morning until you fall asleep at night. You get so caught up in the content of your life, the minutiae that make up a day, so self-absorbed in the big project you have to do, that the blessings, the magic, the stillness, and the vast- ness escape you. You never emerge from your cocoon, except for when there’s a noise that’s so loud you can’t help but notice it, or something shocks you, or captures your eye. Then for a moment you stick your head out and realize, Wow! Look at that sky! Look at that squirrel! Look at that person! THE GREAT FOURTEENTH-CENTURY Tibetan teacher Longchenpa talked about our useless and meaningless focus on the details, getting so caught up we don’t see what is in front of our nose. He said that this useless focus extends moment by moment into a continuum, and days, months, and even whole lives go by. Do you spend your whole time just thinking about things, dis- tracting yourself with your own mind, completely lost in thought? I know this habit so well myself. It is the human predicament. It is what the Buddha recognized and what all the living teachers since then have recognized. This is what we are up against. “Yes, but...,” we say. Yes, but I have a job to do, there is a dead- line, there is an endless amount of e-mail I have to deal with, I have cooking and cleaning and errands. How are we supposed to juggle all that we have to do in a day, in a week, in a month, without missing our precious opportunity to experience who we really are? Not only do we have a precious human life, but that precious hu- man life is made up of precious human days, and those precious human days are made up of precious human moments. How we spend them is really important. Yes, we do have jobs to do; we don’t just sit around meditating all day, even at a retreat center. We have the real nitty-gritty of relationships—how we live together, how we rub up against each other. Going off by ourselves, get- ting away from the people we think are distracting us, won’t solve Do you spend your whole time just thinking about things, distracting yourself with your own mind, completely lost in thought? This is the human predicament. This is what we are up against. SEPT 64-69.indd 66 SEPT 64-69.indd 66 7/3/08 1:32:41 PM 7/3/08 1:32:41 PM