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Lions Roar : September 2019
following them—even the impulse to “meditate.” I wasn’t even doing that. I was just being there. It was so simple and ordinar y, but it was a radical shift: I was no longer trying to win the old game. In this moment of letting go, I started to see that I’d com- pletely missed the point of meditation. In my endless quest to improve upon the present moment, I was blinding myself to what was already there, and always is. Buddhanature. Our inherent perfection. Our true nature. As my experience shows, letting go of the view that we are fundamentally flawed is not easy. We receive so many mes- sages in our day-to-day lives that tell us just the opposite. We’re not smart enough, beautiful enough, or successful enough. If we could just work harder, eat healthier, or be a little less stressed, then maybe, just maybe, we would finally feel okay. The basic assumption in all these messages is that we are not good enough, and maybe never will be. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in life, what we look like, or how far we climb the ladder of success. There’s always something missing. If we don’t question this assumption, meditation can eas- ily become a subtle form of aggression. We might succeed in calming the turbulent waters of the mind for a few fleeting moments, but we’ll end up reinforcing the old habit of seeing only our flaws. Just like everything else in life, no matter what we do and no matter how hard we try, there will always be another hill to climb. There is no way to win this game. Buddhanature is not a better way to play the same old game. It’s an entirely different game. The principle of buddhanature invites us to explore our experience in a new way—not with an eye to correcting what’s wrong, but noticing what has always been right. OUR EFFORTLESS AWARENESS One of the first qualities of buddhanature that my teachers introduced me to was awareness. Awareness is like a thread that runs through every experience we have. Our thoughts and emotions are constantly changing. Our reactions and percep- tions come and go. Yet despite these changes, awareness is always present. It is wide open and accommodating like the sky, immeasurably deep and vast like the ocean, and stable and enduring like a massive mountain. Awareness doesn’t get better when we have an inspired thought or a sublime emotion. It doesn’t get worse when we’re completely neurotic. Awareness just is. It’s not something we do. It’s who we are. Since awareness is always there, the only thing we need to do is recognize it. We don’t need to improve it, and we couldn’t even if we tried. The biggest challenge with awareness is that it’s so close, we don’t see it. It’s so ordinar y, we don’t believe it. It’s just know- ing, effortless presence. Who is reading this right now? Who’s having this experi- ence? It’s awareness. This awareness is who you are right now, in this very moment. Let’s do a brief practice to experience this effortless awareness: Before you read further, pause for a moment. Let go of the doing for a moment and allow yourself to be. Don’t meditate on the breath...just breathe. Don’t meditate on sound...just listen. Now don’t do anything. Just be here. Whatever this moment holds for you, just experience it, as it is. Awareness itself is whole and complete. It’s always here and it can accommodate anything. You can talk, you can move, you can even read, as you are right now. All of this is happen- ing within awareness. OUR NATURAL LOVE AND COMPASSION This effortless presence isn’t a blank, lifeless state. It’s alive and deeply engaged with the world. When we are simply present with what’s happening within and around us, a natural sense of love and compassion emerges. Like awareness, these qualities are not something we have to develop or cultivate. They are abiding qualities of our true nature. The seeds of compassion are present in our very simple wish to avoid pain and discomfort. Love is present in the movement toward happiness and fulfillment. In every moment we experi- ence these movements. When we shift our posture or blink our eyes to avoid discomfort, we express compassion. When we enjoy a sip of water or respond to the smile of a friend, we experience love. Love and compassion are present when we least expect them to be. They are even present within painful emotions like fear and anger, since these reactions are rooted in the impulse to avoid pain and discomfort and to experience happiness and You will never be more perfect than you are right now, in this very moment. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2019 48