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Lions Roar : July 2014
resources. however, Buddhism is known as a nontheistic tradi- tion, which means that help doesn’t come from outside. The Sanskrit term for meditation, dhyana, is common to many Buddhist traditions. In Chinese it is chan, and in Japanese it is zen. We may use the word “meditation” in the english lan- guage, but how can we actually express its meaning or what this approach actually is? We have to know what we mean by meditation at all. Some- times we use the word to mean emptying out or letting go. Sometimes we mean relaxation. however, the point of medita- tion practice is actually to rediscover our hidden neurosis and our hidden sanity at the same time. Although meditation involves training and discipline, the point is not to become a good, highly trained person who will behave in a certain enlightened style, so that you will be accepted among the buddhas and bodhisattvas. Rather, the meaning of meditation is intense lightness. Meditation is intense, because the practice is demanding, and your commitment to the sitting practice of meditation day after day is very demanding. At the same time, the practice of medita- tion is very light, because you have nothing to do, and nothing to accomplish, when you practice. So intense lightness or intense freedom is the meaning of meditation. There is another tradition of practice, the contemplative tra- dition, which involves contemplating certain themes, subjects, or ideas. You may visualize a full moon, a flickering candle, or rain- drops, or you may imagine yourself glowing with light. There are visualizations using symbols and signs of all kinds. These all fall in the category of the contemplative tradition, rather than the medi- tative tradition. According to the Buddha, such practice is often merely mental gymnastics, or a source of entertainment that is furthering your neurosis instead of leading to enlightenment. So according to the buddhadharma, simplicity is important. Therefore dhyana, meditation, means reliance on simplicity. That is the starting point. Another important aspect of meditation is discipline. Disci- pline leads to openness, but that does not mean one’s frivolity is included as part of the path. Discipline is very severe and ex- tremely demanding, highly demanding. You are expected to take part in this severe discipline, which is the discipline to be, to sit, to practice, and to completely involve your attitude, your con- ceptualizations, your subconscious mind, your emotions, your domestic affairs, and every aspect of yourself in your practice. everything in your life situation becomes part of meditation, which is an enormous demand. Giving in to such demand eventually begins to open a huge gate or door that has been shut tight. from this point of view, developing openness is not so easy—at all. It is opening a heavy wooden door, which is stuck. opening this huge door is enor- mously demanding. It is not an artificial door, but a real, heavy door. To open it, first you touch the door handle, then you have to pull and pull and pull. Not succeeding, you have to pull further. Then, finally, you begin to hear the sound of the wood creaking, which is the first sign that you are finally going to be able to open this door. The creaks are encouragement that something is actu- ally happening. Slowly, slowly, it opens a little, and then more, until finally you can open the whole door. Whew! This is how discipline equals openness—it is very deliberate, extremely deliberate. Nothing comes free, and nothing comes easy, either. Meditation is also about exerting yourself and using your in- quisitive mind as part of the practice. In order to be a good student, you have to be highly inquisitive. Then information is no longer a foreign element; it becomes part of furthering your inquisitiveness. That inquisitiveness is referred to in traditional terms as faith or devotion. Why so? You are inquisitive because you want to find out something. There is something that interests or itches you. It sucks you in, and you want to find out more and more. That attraction is the basis for faith, or devotion. You feel that there’s got to be something behind the whole thing, so you explore more, and more, and more. You never tire of your experience, but you are highly inquisitive about it. each time you discover some- thing, you feel even more inquisitive. That faith or devotion to things is very contagious. Another aspect of meditation is that it reveals further neurosis. here, we are speaking of the neurosis that you’ve been trying to hide underneath your carpet, your pillows, your seat, underneath your desk. You don’t want to look into it, so you try to slip it underneath something somewhere. You try not to think about it at all. We have to come face-to-face with these neuroses that we’ve been concealing from ourselves. We usually say, “oops, that’s not very nice, but never mind. Something else will come up that feels much better. I’ll take advantage of that, rather than looking at this other thing, which is so unpleasant. Let’s just forget about it.” We’ve been doing that for a long time. In fact, we’ve become so profes- sional at this approach that we really don’t question ourselves. So meditation is uncovering those tricks that we’ve developed. In the beginning, a person who is practicing meditation usually feels extremely clumsy and embarrassed. You may even question whether you’re doing something worthwhile. Meditation may seem unneces- sary. You may feel that you’re wasting your time, money, and effort. Meditation is about relating with two factors. It relates you with yourself, and it also relates you with your world. Through the practice of meditation, you are able to synchronize your world and yourself. Working with the two eventually produces a spark. It is like rubbing two sticks together or striking a flint against a stone to produce a spark. The spark of light you pro- duce is called karuna, or compassion. Chögyam Trungpa rinpoChe (1939–1987) was the author of such classics as Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. He was the founder of this magazine. SHAMBHALA SUN JULy 2014 40