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Lions Roar : November 2018
cyber warfare, but it’s still going on. And even if you manage to overcome your obstacles while you’re on the meditation cushion, once you get up and return to your life, they come roaring back. The heart of meditation practice is not that easy to grasp through conventional thinking. It can seem as if nothing is hap- pening, that we’re getting nowhere. It’s hard to simply trust the practice. We keep coming back to thinking we have to do some- thing to make it work. But meditation works best when it is left alone to work its wonders. Once you have established the ground of settling your mind and working with the coarser obstacles to practice, you could begin to question the whole notion of obstacles. Obstacles arise due to your desire to get somewhere, to do something, to be somebody. They’re an expression of your desire to control and your discomfort with unedited experience. As you let go of the need to push your practice and try to make something happen, there are fewer obstacles. You’re not going anywhere, so there’s nothing to disrupt, nothing to obstruct. No matter how much we toss around words like “being” and “presence,” it’s not so easy just to be, not to do. Meditation practice isn’t about doing things a different way, and it’s not about becoming a different and better person. In fact, it’s just the opposite: it’s about unraveling the whole paradigm of trying to get somewhere and be somebody. Glimpses of meditation happen all the time, even to beginners, in the moments when we forget to try to be meditators. The whole project of meditation, with its obstacles and anti- dotes, is manufactured experience: it sets the stage and so has its place. However, it’s important not to cling too much to that production. When you stop trying so hard, when you have less of an agenda, obstacles fall away quite naturally. It’s not that you have overcome them. They just have nowhere to land. They have no reason to be. When you drop your agenda, meditation becomes very simple. ♦ JUDY LIEF is a Buddhist teacher in the Vajrayana tradition and author of Making Friends with Death. PHOTOBYFELIXHUG/STOCKSYUNITED