1 Dec
Posted in: Books
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Not Moving and Not Still

One of my Dharma buddies (hi, Lori!) wrote to say that the book I posted about on Friday — Listening to the Heart — is a Christmas present she will give to herself and that next March, she will sit a retreat at IMS with the authors — Kittisaro and Thanissara. (Another great gift, I might add.) She asked that I post something more from the book, so here’s a passage, written by Kittisaro, which has already had a big impact on my practice:

During my sabbatical year on retreat I had the precious opportunity to continually empty the heart of subtle splits. Many times a day I would reflect on a phrase from the Heart Sutra: “All dharmas are empty of characteristics.”

I noticed that habitually my thoughts would label, define, and concretize whatever was happening, making that activity seem real. While walking, I ordinarily gave reality to the “characteristic” of movement.

Emptying the heart of that perception, letting that thought dissolve, I noticed the essential stillness within walking. I practiced walking while perceiving the unmoving suchness that is always here and now.

While sitting and feeling peaceful, when the heart attached to the perception of stillness, I noticed the movement within stillness–the breath flowing, the sensations vibrating, the sounds flickering. I reflected on stillness during movement and the movement within stillness, emptying the rigid distinctions I make unconsciously, all the time. Movement and stillness, each is just a way of talking.

Letting thoughts subside, the true Dharma is not moving and not still.     

Similarly, there is a tendency to create a difference between good states and bad states, mindful moments and heedless moments, enlightened and deluded, in here and out there, feeling peaceful and suffering, meditating and not meditation, being on retreat and being back in the world. 

Every time I noticed the heart making a mark, creating a split, I practiced letting that thought go, revealing its essential emptiness. This beautiful and peaceful practice is sometimes called cultivating patience with the non-production of dharmas.

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