8 Aug
Posted in: Talks
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25 Words or Less

pic195792I listened to another one of Ajahn Sucitto’s dharma talks last night…this one basically a Q&A session…in which he was asked to explain meditation practice in 25 words or less.

Here’s what he said: “Meditation means cultivation of mind, by which we mean purifying the mind of harmful actions, afflictive mental states and ignorance. That’s the aim of it.” (Well done.)

Then (in way more than 25 words) he went on to explain the difference between samatha practice (the calming, collecting, steadying practice that utilizes a single object of mediation) and vipassana practice (insight meditation, which adds the element of investigation into conditionality as a part of the practice).

And he talked about how these practices are connected. His instructions are to find something (body sensation, mantra, image, etc) that you can pour your attention into and then just stay, stay, stay with that. “It could be breathing in and breathing out, which is actually something moving, but you stay in the presence of that so your mind finds a bit of stability there….You just stay, stay, stay…the moving stuff can just pass through. Stay, stay, stay. Don’t change your frame of reference. The frame of reference is called mindfulness. Sustaining that frame is the right kind of energy or effort. This is samatha practice.

“Insight (vipassana) practice is any process that involves some degrees of asking ‘what causes this’ or ‘what is the conditioning for the arising of that’ or ‘what brings this to mind; what does it do; how does it pass; who does it belong to….

“So generally, you want to have enough samatha so it’s like a ‘white board’ there where you can begin to register the ‘scribbles’ of your life that run across it. That’s mediation.

“Then, at a certain point a shift happens. Something steps back, something opens up. So instead of the mind running in with our life’s scribbles or running back to try to rub them out or scribbling more notes about our scribbles — something shifts and there is a withdrawal of energy from that. It’s not aversion. It’s a shift. An energetic shift, an emotional shift, a psychological shift. And it’s the shift that allows conditions that form into something which we normally take ourselves to be, or to have, or to own, or to be held by. There is a shift and these forms are allowed to manifest — and subside. That process is what we call purification. It’s not pouring disinfectant over it. It’s letting things come into their own release. That’s the shift, the stepping back….

“Meditation can be seen as a particular set of skills that you can hone to sharpen your awareness. But it’s not just a one-thing that you do. It’s developing skills that make it so you can cultivate all-around awareness. Developing inquiry, sensing–where is suffering; where is its edge; where is the shadow of it; where is the thing that I shy away from that I don’t see; what is that; how much of it am I creating? Meditation is something that is generally done within a context that allows one to open up.”


Like that? There’s more! Listen here.

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