19 Mar
Posted in: Books, Racism
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Reading Outside the (Color) Line

One of the (many) things that has changed in my life since participating in the Waking Up to Whiteness program (which I posted about here) is that I’ve started to notice how much of what I read is written by white people, about white people. Which is understandable — since I’m white. But so limiting!

Now I’m really making a conscious effort to break out of that pattern. To which end: I just started reading Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I picked it because the New York Times recently listed it as one of “15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.”

(Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday, which I just finished reading and posted about here, was also listed. Click here for the compete Times listing.)

In the past, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this novel. Which would have been a shame, because it’s TERRIFIC!!!

Here’s a sample from the first few pages:

The man standing closest to her was eating an ice cream cone; she had always found it a little irresponsible, the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men, especially the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men in public. He turned to her and said, ‘About time,’ when the train finally creaked in, with the familiarity strangers adopt with each other after sharing in the disappointment of a public service. She smiled at him. The graying hair on the back of his head was swept forward, a comical arrangement to disguise his bald spot. He had to be an academic, but not in the humanities or he would be more self-conscious. A firm science like chemistry, maybe. Before, she would have said, ‘I know,’ that peculiar American expression that professed agreement rather than knowledge, and then she would have started a conversation with him, to see if he would say something she could use in her blog.

“People were flattered to be asked about themselves and if she said nothing after they spoke, it made them say more. They were conditioned to fill silences. If they asked what she did, she would say vaguely, ‘I write a life-style blog,’ because saying, ‘I write an anonymous  blog called Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black’ would make them uncomfortable.

“She had said it, though, a few times. Once to a dreadlocked white man who sat next to her on the train, his hair like old twine ropes that ended in a blond fuzz, his tattered shirt worn with enough piety to convince her that he was a social warrior and might make a good guest blogger. ‘Race is totally overhyped these days, black people need to get over themselves, it’s all about class now, the haves and the have-nots,’ he told her evenly, and she used it as the opening sentence of a post titled ‘Not All Dreadlocked White American Guys Are Down.'”

16 Mar
Posted in: Talks
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Entering the Stream

More on “personality view” from Ajahn Sucitto. (I know this post is really long, but I just couldn’t bear to cut it.)

“The Buddha presented 10 “fetters” or “knots” that are released at Awakening. Awakening has several stages to it. At the first stage, the first three fetters all go at the same time. It’s not 1, then 2, then 3… because the first three fetters are really aspects of the same experience.

“The first is sakayaditthi (literally: ‘the view of being in this body,’ which is generally translated as ‘personality view‘). This is the isolated individual. It’s the belief in the individual as a separate reality and also that it can provide a good foundation.

“But as we practice, probably we begin to recognize that the personality is something that we have to be able to release, rather than to establish as a foundation. It doesn’t mean that there’s no sense of self. It means that we can begin to recognize that the personality is kind of like a structure, or a series of mental actions and perceptions that have been established through past karma and particularly through the social/domestic experience. So our personality forms as a response to the world around us.

“And so this is very much associated with the second fetter, attachment to ‘systems and customs,’ because that’s exactly what the personality gets indoctrinated into — systems and customs: Do this, do that. Get a job, get a mortgage, get two-point-five kids, get a dog, be happy. That’s it.

“I’m being humorous, of course. But there’s also nationalism, religious dogmatism — these are also aspects of systems and customs. What it leads to is a certain automatic quality, where we operate automatically according to certain socially generated norms.

“Neither of these mean that you don’t have any personality. Personality is a natural form. The citta (heart) develops a sort of skin, you could say, to interact in the world. But you don’t believe that that’s your final “statement”. That’s just the clothes you wear, you might say.

“I want to get that clear because in terms of people with a lot of deep practice, or who are said to be or understood to be or seem to demonstrate quite realized qualities — they still have a personality. But often it can be that they can kind of turn it off, as well. It’s not a fake thing. It’s just that when there’s a time for interaction, the personality is the appropriate way to interact.

But their personality is often quite light and flexible. It’s appropriate. They’re not trying to boost it, or emphasize it.

And certainly they can use systems and customs as is appropriate, as is suitable. Because if handled properly, systems and customs can be a ground for harmony: Let’s all do it this way. Fine. Then we know where we are and we don’t have to concern ourselves too much about these behavioral things.

“Also someone like this is aware of the rationale behind systems and customs. For the sake of harmony or out of mutual respect or imbued with conscience and concern, one can use a meditation system without it turning into: This is it. It’s the only way. I’ve got to be good at this… Instead: Ah, this is actually providing the ground for calming or steadying or it’s making me realize where the hindrances are. This is good! And one can use a range of those systems. One really sees the value of them and can use them rather than being disoriented without them or being dogmatic about them.

“This can be because the citta has realized something beyond the level of personal behavioral experience. It’s realized something deeper than that.

“So therefore it doesn’t have the third fetter: doubt (or lack of confidence). One is confident that this ‘me’ is not something I really have to concern myself about too much because there’s something more important here than my personality and what people think of me and whether I look good or…

“You also might say that this sense of right and wrong is much softer. Right and wrong often applies to dogmatic apprehension of experience: This is right and this is wrong. Instead one might say: This doesn’t seem to be very fitting right now.

“But the person where these fetters are really deeply embedded will have a lot of personality issues. Often complaining about themselves; the inner tyrant experience; critical mind; going on and on worrying about themselves. And also doing it to other people: She’s this and he’s that. Always focusing on the personalities of other people as a big issue.

“Without that, we can get on with a whole range of people because we’re not really making personality the main thing. So this makes life a lot broader and more expansive.

That really is the stream-enterer, but they still have things like sense-desire, ill-will, residences….. You know, they’ve still got stuff!

“I think that’s really helpful because if you’re aiming for total purity on day one, or you’ve got to let go of all your attachments, that’s a big ask. But that’s not it.

“So the next two fetters are: resistance (or irritability) and sense-desire. One’s mind is heated by the qualities of sense desire and one’s mind is also irritable. It’s not permanently irritable, but certainly you can sense that irritability to things, and resistances. Likes and dislikes. Even the once-returner [the second stage of Awakening] has still got that to a certain degree. Then that fades, wanes, as the foothold on what we’ll call the Deathless becomes more assured, so that one is experiencing a sense of comfort in it.

“The first realizations, or aspects of realization, are really not so much about feeling that great. The first thing that’s established, actually, is a sense of security. Or stability. Which is what ‘confidence’ means. Or ‘lack of doubt.’ You’ve touched something and you know… you don’t necessarily always feel great and comfortable and wonderful… but you know: This is it. And because of that, then the path is established. You know. Even though things are still somewhat uncomfortable — preferences, irritability — still you know: I have confidence; There is this; There is this place of refuge.

So the stream-enterer definitely has a refuge, a foothold on it. That’s why it’s called ‘entering the stream.’ They’re just getting their feet in it. They’re not totally buoyed up by it. So it’s just: There is a stream. It doesn’t mean one necessarily is completely immersed in it. [laughs] So the irritability and sense-desire are still there to a degree. But this doesn’t get in the way of what they’re doing.

“Another fetter is the attachment to meditation qualities: to fine mind-states, and then to even subtler mind-states — absorptions and calm and ease and spaciousness. Those are another two fetters. The stream-enterer still hasn’t really broken or released those.

“And there’s ‘conceit‘ — conceiving oneself to be something, either better or worse or the same-as. Having oneself as a concept, a ‘perceptual self’ you might say. Conceiving oneself as anything really — enlightened, half-enlightened, somewhat enlightened. That’s why the realized people just don’t say anything about being enlightened, generally. Because it doesn’t really make sense. [laughs] You just say: Suffering has stopped. 

“Then ‘restlessness,’ where the mind has still got some association with the conditioned realm. The conditioned mind is always shifting and moving. There’s an association with that, so the mind is being stirred. And the last is ignorance, or the lack of full comprehension. These then are not released — yet.

But stream-entry is perhaps the major breakthrough. The Buddha pointed to a mountain and then he pointed to the dirt under his fingernail and he asked: What do you think is greater — the amount of earth in that mountain or the amount of earth under my fingernail? And of course, the bhikkhus: Surely Lord…. [laughs] And then the Buddha said: Well, the amount of earth in that mountain, that’s what you shift at stream entry. And what I have under my fingernail, that’s the rest of it. So it’s considered a major breakthrough because then it is said that one is not going back. It’s going to continue. It’s going to deepen.

“The aim then is to keep referring the heart to that, keep establishing it, keep acknowledging what drags one out of it, and increasing the sense of enjoyment in it, and the comfortableness. And then working on the subsidiary fetters.

“You can notice what bothers you. So if you’re still worked up about him and her and myself and this-that-and-the-other, there’s some ‘personality view’ still there. Or if you momentarily get these irritable mind-states or a tendency to be critical, then you know that and your aim is to work on that.

Even though stream-entry is a major breakthrough, a stream-enterer isn’t always clear about it. Because it’s not that solid. It’s solid in the way that it’s not going to turn back, but you can’t really feel fully enriched by it. Stream-enterers can still misbehave. But because they’re not attached to their personality, they can acknowledge it. They’re not defensive because they’re not trying to present themselves as an ideal person any more. Which is a great help.”


This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity and readability. It is Ajahn Sucitto’s answer to the question: “How would you characterize freedom from sakayaditthi (personality view)?” Click here for the full Q&A session.

15 Mar
Posted in: Poems
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A Completely Different Point of View

(a little bit more from Leonard Cohen at the Zen monastery):

Religious Statues
from Book of Longing

After a while
I started playing with dolls
I loved their peaceful expressions
They all had their places
in a corner of Room 315

I would say to myself:
It doesn’t matter
that Leonard can’t breathe
that he is hopelessly involved
in the panic of the situation

I’d light a cigarette
and a stick of Nag Champa
Both would burn too fast
in the draft of the ceiling fan

Then I might say
something like:
Thank You
for the terms of my life
which make it so painlessly clear
that I am powerless
to do anything

and I’d watch CNN
the rest of the night
but now
from a completely different
point of view

14 Mar
Posted in: Books
By    1 Comment

The More You Learn…

I just finished reading Asymmetryby Lisa Halliday, and now all I want to do is to read it all over again.

I won’t attempt to write a review. The New York Times has a wonderful one here. So does NPR, here. And The Atlantic, here. Instead, I’ll just say that the experience of reading this book has taught me way more than I ever thought possible about a situation that I thought I already knew way too much about, and about a totally different situation that I knew I knew nothing about, but didn’t know just how much of this “nothing” I knew nothing about.

*** The book is written in three sections. The first is titled: Folly. It begins like this:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of all this sitting by herself with nothing to do: every so often she tried again to read the book in her lap, but it was made up almost exclusively of long paragraphs, and no quotation marks whatsoever, and what is the point of a book, thought Alice, that does not have any quotation marks?

She was considering (somewhat foolishly, for she was not very good at finishing things) whether one day she might even write a book herself, when a man with pewter-colored curls and an ice-cream cone from the Mister Softee on the corner sat down beside her.

“What are you reading?”

Alice showed him.

“Is that the one with the watermelons?”

Alice had not  yet read anything about watermelons, but she nodded anyway.

“What else do you read?”

“Oh, old stuff, mostly.”

They sat without speaking for a while, the man eating his ice cream and Alice pretending to read her book.

Two joggers in a row gave them a second glance as they passed. Alice knew who he was–she’d known the moment he sat down, turning her cheeks watermelon pink–but in her astonishment she could only continue staring, like a studious little garden gnome, at the impassable pages that lay open in her lap. They might as well have been made of concrete.

“So,” said the man, rising. “What’s your name?”


“Who likes old stuff. See you around.”

*** The second section is titled: Madness. It begins like this:

Where are you coming from?
Los Angeles.
Traveling alone?

Purpose of your trip?
To see my brother.
Your brother is British?
Whose address is this then?
Alastair Blunt’s.
Alastair Blunt is British?
And how long do you plan to stay in the UK?
Until Sunday morning.
What will you be doing here?

Seeing friends.
For only two nights?
And then?
I fly to Istanbul.
Your brother lives in Istanbul?
Where does he live?
In Iraq.
And you’re going to visit him in Iraq?

*** The third section is titled: Ezra Blazer’s Desert Island Discs. It begins like this:

Interviewer: My castaway this week is a writer. A clever boy originally from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he graduated from Allegheny College swiftly into the pages of “Playboy,” “The New Yorker,” and “The Paris Review,” where his short stored about postwar working-class Americans earned him a reputation as a fiercely candid and unconventional talent. By the time he was twenty-nine, he had published this first novel, “Nine Mile Run,” which won him the first of three National Book Awards; since then he’s published twenty more books, and received dozens more awards, including the Pen/Faulkner Award, the Gold Medal in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two Pulitzer Prizes, the National Medal of Arts, and just this past December–“for his exuberant ingenuity and exquisite powers of ventriloquism, which with irony and compassion evince the extraordinary heterogeneity of modern American life”–literature’s most coveted honor: the Nobel Prize. 


Somewhere in the middle of the first section, I underlined this: The more you learn, thought Alice, the more you realize how little you know.


13 Mar
Posted in: Talks
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Conflict and Comparison

(continuing from yesterday’s post with excerpt from Ajahn Sucitto’s Q&A on the mental “fetters” that bind us to suffering)

The second fetter, attachment to rites and rituals (silabbata-paramasa), has to do with — not just rituals, lighting incense, or praying — but everything that’s automatic. It’s systems and customs. Any kind of system or custom.

Language is a system. It’s a series of sounds and words, but it’s a system, a custom. Everybody is operating according to systems and customs. For example, everybody goes to work at this time or everybody eats their meal at this time. Everybody’s following some kind of ritual/system/custom. These are things we operate with, but really, in truth, there’s no day or night, there’s no Monday or Thursday — that’s just the convention. We think: “Oh, this is Thursday, I have to do this. Or I can only do this on Sunday. Or it’s six o’clock!” But there’s no such thing as six o’clock. It’s just the convention. And when one gets attached to these things, then we live life like a robot. Like a puppet that’s moved along. This is a considerable fetter.

Doctrines can also be part of that. Even meditation systems can be things we get attached to: “This is the right way. I’m going it right. He’s wrong.”

The quality of these always separates us. So even when you call yourself a “Buddhist”, it’s tricky. Buddhism a good system, but it’s a system. And actually, there are no “Buddhists”, really, there’s just Dhamma practice. We can call ourselves “Buddhists” when we have to write something down on an official form, or whatever. So people know that this is the label and it probably means we’re good people. But we also understand this is just a system and a custom. It has to be seen in the light of: When does it become useful? When does it become something where we quarrel? As in: Who’s better — Buddhists or Christians? Mahayana or Theravada? And in meditation: Which practice style do we do? Mahasi Sayadaw or Ajhan Chah or U Pandita or U Tejaniya or Zen? Then we get stuck in these things.

The Buddha didn’t teach any of that. He said: “Purify the heart.” Is there a system for that? [laughs]

So attachment to systems and customs sets us apart from each other. And then we find there is comparison and conflict. There’s no liberation where there is comparison and conflict. There’s no ending of suffering where there’s comparison and conflict. There’s no ending of stress where there’s superior and inferior. Where there’s men and women. There’s no ending of it.

It only ends when you come to: Let go of that. There is a point at which these are relevant, and there’s a point where they’re irrelevant. For liberation, you must realize the depth where these things that separate us no longer occur. Because there’s no suffering in that. There’s no stress in that. There’s no holding on in that. There’s no need to hold it.

And doubt (vicikiccha), which is the final fetter that’s eliminated at “stream-entry”, is just the lack of understanding. Where we don’t really realize that there is a place beyond thought and beyond attachment, that you can rest in.

Because of not knowing that, we’re always creating something to hold onto, something to name, something claim, something to dispute. Because we haven’t really understood that there’s a place where none of that need happen. And where that doesn’t happen, there’s confidence. Confidence that isn’t about being right. It’s about having no right or wrong, just: This is true; It’s like this.

A lot of people are looking for the right opinion. You don’t need an opinion. Well, sometimes you do. But with the truth, you don’t need an opinion.

You just need to know: This is where the suffering stops; the stress stops; the pressure stops; the holding on stops. This is where it stops. And this is where it happens; this is what causes it to happen; and this is what causes it to cease.

Now any system, any way you can do that — that’s fine. That to me is the Dhamma world. Who’s in it? I don’t know. Buddhist? Sufis? Jews? I don’t know. But if you can get there: Good!


(You can listen to the entire Q&A session with Ajahn Sucitto here.)

12 Mar
Posted in: Talks
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Personality View

I love the very accessible explanation of “personality view” (sakkayaditthi), which Ajahn Sucitto gave during a recent Q&A session in response to a question about whether or not a “stream-enterer” could ever lose contact with the Dharma. (“Stream-enterer” is the term traditionally used to describe someone who has reached the first stage of enlightenment.) Ven. Sucitto says:

“The stream-enterer has some realization, but not complete realization, so, yes, they could lose the precepts. But the stream-enterer is of the quality that they could acknowledge this — and return.

“The stream-enterer has not eliminated greed and hatred, or passion and craving. But they have eliminated the personality view. The personality view is gone, so they’re not proud; they’re not defensive; they’re not justifying themselves. The stream-enterer is always someone who can be corrected. But they can make mistakes.

“The stream-enterer has essentially lost the first three “fetters”. The first of these is sakkayaditthi (personality view), which is the belief in being an independent entity. A personality. Meaning that the thing that makes us different — we take that to be the foundation of our life. Rather than taking the thing that makes us NOT different.

“That which makes us different — different faces, different attitudes, different personalities — that becomes the reference point. With personality view, that’s what I take a stand on; that becomes what I take as most important. That’s always going to cause division. Because there’s only one like ME!

“But if your reference point is the universal — which is the quality of goodwill, the quality of truthfulness, the quality of patience, etc. — there’s no person in that.”


The next two “fetters” are: silabbata-paramasa (attachment to rites and rituals) and vicikiccha (usually translated as “skeptical doubt”.) I’ll post Ajahn Sucitto’s explanation of those tomorrow.

Can’t wait? Click here to listen.

9 Mar
Posted in: Practice, Talks
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Attention is the Active Part of Intention

(one more excerpt from the At-Home Retreat with Phillip Moffitt):

“In terms of the clarity of your practice, I want to remind you again that the first rule is that you are non-doing…in so far as you can. So: You are not doing the practice. You are letting the practice do you.

“There is a certain amount of doing. (This is one of these paradoxes that you just have to work out for yourself.) There’s a certain amount of doing or nothing would happen. But then you ask: Am I doing any more than I need to be doing…and you drop it. You feel your way. You drop it and then if you see that your mind just wanders off, you adjust. You feel your way.

“The practice can have great intensity and still be light. There’s not a lot of doing – despite of all the instructions we give all the time!

“But the practice does involve your knowing that you can direct attention, your knowing that you know how to direct attention, that you’ve practiced directing attention, and that you know when you are directing attention. And that means both the connecting and the sustaining aspect of directing attention.

Attention is the active part of intention. Intention in the Eight-Fold Path is the pivotal point on the Path. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where your understanding—your Right View—actually shows up in somebody’s life: yours and others. Without that intention, it just doesn’t happen.

Attention is the manifestation of intention and intention is what creates the karma for us (both immediately and if you believe in reincarnation, in the long term). So attention becomes very, very important.

“Being able to place your attention anywhere – in your body, in knowing Pleasant or Unpleasant, in the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, in the Forth Foundation of Mindfulness, in the Three Characteristics, in the Twelve Aspects of the Four Noble Truths…whatever degree of knowledge you have – being able to place your attention where it seems wise to place it, is part of this clarity.

“You place your attention, and you really know these locations. Whatever you’ve learned, you know the locations where you can be mindful. Anything you’ve ever been taught, you can be mindful of that. So you can locate yourself. You know how to have your mind rest there. Or there. Or there.

“The ability to direct and sustain attention is one of the things that comes faster than some of these other things. So that’s the good news in it. You really see: I can direct my mind. And I can locate it here, and here. And I can know these locations. It gives you something to be doing and it can add to the inspiration.

“One of the inspirations of practice may be the very practice itself. It inspires you to more practice. And discovering new things in practice can be an inspiration for practice. Letting go can be an inspiration for practice. Surrender can be an inspiration for practice. Having clarity can be an inspiration for practice.

“See how it all fits together? It’s a hologram. It’s all contained. Any one piece of the Dharma contains all of the Dharma. You start anywhere and you can get to every other single realization. And that’s why sometimes when you hear a dharma talk on retreat and you think: well, that’s kind of what they said the night before or two nights ago…they’ve just sort of come back around to this. That’s because it’s a whole piece. It’s unified. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, the Dharma. Just as a structure. Just as a perception of what it is and what you are. It is breathtakingly beautiful in its architecture, its blueprint, its DNA if you like.”


(Click here to listen to this talk. The excerpt above begins at about 2 hr 31min into the tape.)

8 Mar
Posted in: Poems
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Then Suddenly You Know

And now for something a little different (but really the same):

Leonard Cohen spent 5 years on retreat at Mt. Baldy and was ordained as a Zen monk (taking the name Jikan, which means “silence”), after which he wrote:

My Life in Robes
by Leonard Cohen

After a while
You can’t tell
If it’s missing
A woman
Or needing
A cigarette
And later on
If it’s night
Or day
Then suddenly
You know
The time
You get dressed
You go home
You light up
You get married


I was never “in robes” and I don’t smoke and I did not get married when I came back from retreat, but I know what he’s talking about. The point of being on retreat is not to be really good at being on retreat. The point is to get far enough away from the world — to get quiet enough and still enough — to be able to see the world (often suddenly) with enough clarity that you can go back out into the world and do what needs to be done.

7 Mar
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It’s Mysterious

Just a little bit more from the At-Home Retreat with Phillip Moffitt:

There is a mysterious aspect to this practice. We don’t make many references to that in the practice, but it’s very mysterious. And mysterious things happen while we practice. Part of this mysteriousness is: When we’re being available in practice, what at are we being available for? Who is being available? What does it mean to be available in the first place?…

What arises when we practice is this illuminating quality of awareness. It’s illuminating — the sound of my voice is illuminated by your knowing. The quality of knowing is what illuminates it. Otherwise, it has no existence outside of itself…

Consciousness — that which knows — has an illuminating quality to it. That illuminating quality is a source of energy. When we “know that we know” anything, that which is illuminated is illuminated with energy. And that energy becomes the source for intentionality — that’s where intention comes from. It’s why we’re not stuck in samsara forever…

It is inspiring to think of this.

As you become more aware of awareness, you actually start to have a direct feeling of this knowing. You begin to see why the Buddha stressed the importance of mindfulness. Our actual showing up for the direct experience — that’s how we have choice in our life — because the knowing has this inherent energy. It has a responsiveness. It’s benign. And we can know it in this illuminating nature of knowing.  



(To listen to this talk, click here. Most of the quote above begins at about the 1 hr and 37 minute mark.)

5 Mar
Posted in: Practice, Talks
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Keys to Effective Meditation

More from Phillip Moffitt’s At-Home Retreat for Experienced Students: 

The first key is inspiration. If you are not inspired to meditate, you will not go through the boredom of it, the times you have to be with restless mind, the times you have to be with sleepy mind, the times when you feel like you can’t go anywhere in your practice… So inspiration is a real key. And inspiration has with it a sense of commitment and also of surrender.

“Surrender is so important because when we surrender we’re not trying to get anywhere, we’re just showing up. And boy does that make a difference in being able to tolerate the ups and downs of the practice! This doesn’t mean we don’t have our preferences. But when we surrender we’re saying: This is what’s important to me — that I be present for my life. I surrender to controlling my life; I’m just going to be present. I can choose to be present — and I will.

“So we start with inspiration and then the second key is the practice itself. How do you get better? By practicing. Better in what sense? Better in being able to be more present for whatever the meditation is like.

“So, you have to practice! But practice can be a 5 minute session in the morning. It can be 3 minutes of walking mediation. It can be 45 minutes of mediation in the evening. It can be two 1-hour sessions a day. Two hour-and-a-half sessions a day. Two 2-hour sessions a day. These are all lengths of practice that people that I work with practice. Some of these folks have very busy lives and they’re still taking an hour or an hour-and-a-half a day. I’m not saying that you should. I’m just saying that there’s a range of what’s possible. You have to have some sort of commitment to daily practice, some sort of commitment that’s within sangha in some way or another, some sort of practice that’s a listening practice, and coming on retreats as much as you can — to daylong or longer retreats, whatever’s possible for you — but you’ve got to do the practice! And cultivate the qualities of practice, which are patience and persistence. That quality of surrendering shows up at practice level as: No Expectations….

And then being available. Truly being available. Beyond any level that you can image. However much you think you are available, I mean a LOT more available than that! You have to have a certain amount of practice to be available to the next level. So being available to practice, to being open to this whole experience, is an emergent quality. It unfolds as the conditions become appropriate for it to unfold.”


Phillip goes on to list two more keys to effective meditation: having clarity as to how to practice, and having a range of practices that you can choose from. Click here to listen (starting at 2 hours and 25 minutes into the recording.)