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Lions Roar : July 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2012 39 Meditation: Interconnectedness Here’s a practice that directly evokes the truth that there is no separate and enduring self, meditated on in the context of interconnectedness. Read these instructions and then sit up or lie down with your spine straight and your body relaxed so that breath can flow easily in and out of your body. Close your eyes. Don’t do anything at all to manipulate or regulate your breathing. Let your experience be like wide awake sleeping, with breath com- ing and going at its own rate. Probably you’ll be aware of your diaphragm moving up and down as your chest expands and contracts. Of course you can- not feel that the exhaling air is rich in carbon dioxide and the inhaling air is rich in oxygen, but you probably know that. You also probably know that the green life in the world—the trees and vines and shrubs and grasses—are breathing in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen back into the environment. The green world and your lungs, as long as they both are viable, are keeping each other alive. Without any volition on your part, your body is part of the world happening, and the world is part of your body continu- ing. Nothing is separate. Your life is part of all life. Where is the self? ♦ my balance after the “uh-oh” feeling of “if no one is here, who is holding me up?” I thought, “This is wild! There really isn’t anyone in here directing the show. It is all just happening.” I understood that the arising of intention causes things to happen, and that intention arises as a result of circumstances such as hearing the instruction, “Do walking meditation.” Hearing the instruction was the proximal cause of walking happening. The habit of following instructions, developed since birth, was another cause. In years since, the understanding that everything anyone does is a result of karma—of causes and effects—has helped to keep me from labeling people as good or bad. Circumstances and behavior can change, of course, but at any given time no one can be other than the sum of all of their contingent causes. A student in a class discussion about this topic once said, “When people ask me, ‘How are you?’ I always answer, ‘I couldn’t be better. Because, I couldn’t!’” It’s true. We couldn’t, any of us, be better. In our most out-of- sorts days, we couldn’t be better. If we could, we would. Suffering happens, but no “one” decides to suffer. As a beginning student, I wondered whether hearing about the three characteristics of experience, rather than discovering them for myself, would diminish their impact—that thinking about them wouldn’t count as much as discovering them directly. Today, I know that thinking, pondering, and reflecting on them count as well as direct moments of experience. Everything counts. PHOTOBYWONGSZEFEI/VEER.COM