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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 107 Network Directory Rates For Dharma Center & Yoga Listings Basic listing: $169: includes your center or studio name, address, phone and fax numbers, email and website addresses, and a 20-word description. For a longer description add $3 for each additional word. Each listing is for one year and comes with a free subscription. To include your center or studio in the Network Directory, contact Paul Laybolt: Toll Free: 1-877-786-1950 ext. 31 Email: email@example.com Deadlines December/January issue: Sept 15 February/March issue: Nov 17 Network Directory listings now available in Call Paul Laybolt toll-free at 877-786- 1950 ext 31 or send an email to paul@ shambhalasun.com to find out more. IT’S NOW JUNE, and the experiment continues. I’m back to sitting every day, doing the listening meditation. Shan- non and I started our own Tuesday night group, to support our practice and to reach out to others who might want sup- port with theirs, and we already have an earnest and congenial little group taking shape. It’s truly heartwarming. Suddenly, there are meditators coming through our gate where before there were none, each arrival signaled by the creaking of our gate, just as Ed’s gate had welcomed us years before. What’s more, the new ze- ndo (formerly our living room) faces the street, so there is an unending stream of sounds to listen to: birds, cars, passersby, mule-drawn carriages, distant trains, ship horns on the nearby Mississippi River. Which brings us to the jackhammer. Upgrading its lines to fiber optic, Bell South has been tearing up our street for the last month, filling it in, then tearing it back up again. The noise began about the same time I started getting up every morning to do the basic listening medi- tation—just bare attention to sounds, not worrying about the no-sounds or the ground of listening or anything like that. Then I came across this passage in Coming to Our Senses, by Jon Kabat-Zinn: Have you ever noticed that your aware- ness of pain is not in pain, even when you are?...Have you ever noticed that your awareness of fear is not afraid even when you’re terrified? Or that your awareness of depression is not depressed; that your awareness of your bad habits is not a slave to those habits; or perhaps even that your awareness of who you are is not who you think you are? Something in my memory stirred, a connection wanting to be made. This quality of awareness reminded me of what Ed had described as “stainlessness.” I went to my cushion, eager to investigate. As fate would have it, at that moment a loud jackhammer was breaking up the street just outside our window. Perfect. I closed my eyes and RAT-A -TAT-TAT-TAT- TAT ! I zeroed in on the sound, looking to see if it had any inherent qualities of unpleasantness. It didn’t. In awareness, in the absence of resistance, it was neither good nor bad, pleasant nor unpleasant. I could imagine myself, under different cir- cumstances, taking this racket personally, tensing my jaw and getting annoyed, but not this time. I focused on this specific quality of stainlessness—the way my mind could perceive the sound but not in any way be marred by it—and recognized that this quality was always present. Before, my attention had always been centered on the sounds, but now I made a subtle shift in focus to notice the awareness in the sound. And I caught a glimpse of something that amazed me, something that I am determined to investigate fur- ther: it seemed as if this stainless quality applied equally to whatever experiences arose in my awareness: sounds, smells, thoughts, or bodily sensations. You see, I normally label certain contents of awareness “me” or “not me,” “solid” or “seen,” “inside my body” or “out there,” but I saw that stainless awareness does not make these distinctions. And it seemed—I can’t swear that I saw this clearly, but I sensed it—that with determination and concentration, having tasted this awareness, I could enter it even more deeply. Not just see it, but become it. Of course, that would be quite a depar- ture from my usual way of constructing self and world, and it wouldn’t be easy. But nevertheless it was there, in every mo- ment, as intimate as sound or touch or thought. Could this be the ground of be- ing of which Ed spoke? I was pulled out of my meditation by a profound feeling of regret. The loss of Ed welled up with a painful new twist. In that moment, more than anything, I wanted to bring him my fledgling little insights and show him that his efforts had not been in vain. I could just imagine his eyes beam- ing, the warm smile that would spread across his face. For several moments I sat there mourning the loss of that exchange. But Ed is gone. That exchange never hap- pened. And next time, I know, if I am to enter more fully into stainless awareness, I’ll have to leave even Ed behind. ♦