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Lions Roar : January 2016
Darkness Becomes Light Throughout your meditation, keep the sun of your aware- ness shining. Observe the changes that take place in your mind under the light of awareness. Even your breathing has changed and be- come “not-two” (I don’t want to say “one”) with your observ- ing self. This is also true of your thoughts and feelings, which, together with their effects, are suddenly transformed. When you do not try to judge or suppress them, they become intertwined with the observing mind. From time to time you may become restless, and the restless- ness will not go away. At such times, just sit quietly, follow your breathing, smile a half-smile, and shine your awareness on the restlessness. Don’t judge it or try to destroy it, because this rest- lessness is you yourself. It is born, has some period of existence, and fades away, quite naturally. Don’t be in too big a hurry to find its source. Don’t try too hard to make it disappear. Just il- luminate it. You will see that little by little it will change, merge, become connected with you, the observer. Any psychological state that you subject to this illumination will eventually soften and acquire the same nature as the observing mind. Throughout your meditation, keep the sun of your aware- ness shining. Like the physical sun, which lights every leaf and every blade of grass, our awareness lights our every thought and feeling, allowing us to recognize them, be aware of their birth, duration, and dissolution, without judging or evaluat- ing, welcoming or banishing them. It is important that you do not consider awareness to be your “ally,” called on to suppress the “enemies” that are your unruly thoughts. Do not turn your mind into a battlefield. Do not have a war there; for all your feelings—joy, sorrow, anger, hatred—are part of yourself. Awareness is like an elder brother or sister, gentle and at- tentive, who is there to guide and enlighten. It is a tolerant and lucid presence, never violent or discriminating. It is there to recognize and identify thoughts and feelings, not to judge them as good or bad, or place them into opposing camps in order to fight with each other. Opposition between good and bad is often compared to light and dark, but if we look at it in a different way, we will see that when light shines, darkness does not disappear. It doesn’t leave; it merges with the light. It becomes the light. To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem. To meditate means to observe. Your smile proves it. It proves that you are being gentle with yourself, that the sun of awareness is shining in you, that you have control of your situation. You are yourself, and you have acquired some peace. It is this peace that makes a child love to be near you. The Sun My Heart: Reflections on Mindfulness, Concentration, and In- sight (Parallax) Your True Home You can find your true home in the full relaxation of mind and body in the present moment. Your true home is in the here and the now. It is not limited by time, space, nationality, or race. Your true home is not an ab- stract idea; it is something you can touch and live in every mo- ment. With mindfulness and concentration, the energies of the Buddha, you can find your true home in the full relaxation of your mind and body in the present moment. When we stop speaking and thinking and enjoy deeply our in- and out-breath, we are enjoying being in our true home and we can touch deeply the wonders of life. This is the path shown to us by the Buddha. When you breathe in, you bring all yourself together, body and mind; you become one. Equipped with that energy of mindfulness and concentration, you may take a step. And if you can take one mindful step, you can take another and another. You have the insight that this is your true home—you are alive, you are fully present, you are touching life as a reality. Your true home is a solid reality that you can touch with your feet, with your hands, and with your mind. It is fundamental that you touch your true home and realize your true home in the here and the now. All of us have the seed of mindfulness and concentration in us. By taking a mindful breath or a mindful step, you can bring your mind back to your body. In your daily life, your body and mind often go in two different directions. You are in a state of distraction, mind in one place, body in another. Your body is putting on a coat but your mind is preoccupied, caught in the past or the future. But between your mind and your body there is something: your breath. As soon as you go home to your breath and you breathe with awareness, your body and mind come together very quickly. While breathing in, you don’t think of anything; you just focus your attention on your in-breath. You focus; you invest 100 percent of yourself in your in-breath. You become your in-breath. There is a concentration on your in-breath that will make body and mind come together in just one moment. And suddenly you find yourself fully present, fully alive. A Rose for Your Pocket: An Appreciation of Motherhood (Parallax) ESSENTIAL TEACHINGS OF THICH NHAT HANH MEDITATION SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2016 56