A humble attempt to define choiceless awareness

What do we mean by the word ‘to be aware’ ? Is the mind aware, cognizant, knowing, conscious of what is going on within the sphere of the mind? Are you aware of your thoughts, of your feelings? Are you aware that you are fidgeting, scratching, yawning, pushing your hair back?


The teacher

I realize a lot of Buddhists, especially in the West, go it alone. I haven’t really tried to do that as a practitioner, so I can’t speak directly to the effectiveness of such an approach. The cliché (or adage) of course is that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. But I think that holds up in any kind of relationship, and it’s really a matter of do we want to learn or not? If so, then we should be ready for a relationship with a teacher of some sort, at any time. Ultimately, the teacher is our own mind, but since most of us do not live in complete solitude and it usually takes a while to be receptive enough to have this be sufficient, we can look to the interactions of our everyday lives, as well to the more intentional relationships with Dhamma teachers. I have been very lucky with all of the teachers I have had on this path, both formal and informal.* and I’d like to talk a little bit here about the different kinds of teachers available to us, about how to find a teacher and, how best to evaluate a teacher so we know we’re benefiting from the relationship.


Chop, carry

Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. – Zen saying

Several days ago, a tornado stormed through my little town and in about 10 minutes or so dumped torrential rains and brought down countless trees. Among them was a yellowwood which was unwisely planted just below our telephone and electric line 10 years ago. A few weeks ago we had woken up to a large branch from said tree leaning against the house, so it wasn’t surprising that the rest of it had had it when the storm came.


The (elusive) middle way and social media

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with balance. Though a reasonably good student, I often opted for socializing over studying. I had semesters of really putting the nose to the grind and others where I hung out with friends for hours in a bar playing electronic darts, or in a club dancing to house music (I know, you’re thinking, “really?”). When in intimate relationship, I have struggled greatly with wanting to be with that other person virtually all the time. When alone, I make solitude a fortress. When working, I put myself in it whole-heartedly, but then I end up being burnt out from working 12-hour days too frequently and just quit everything … Then there are the addictive behaviors re technology that result in a sort of “binge-and-purge” approach to life. When I was younger, it was computer games, then pre- social media Live Journal, then Last.fm. Obsessive behavior for a while and then a complete relinquishment. Now it’s reading, aggregating, and sharing Dhamma tidbits I find online, through conversations, and through scouring my own bookshelves. And so much of this, particularly personal blogging, as I’ve discussed before, just enables becoming, “selfing”, creating images of me, myself, mine over and over. See how many images of “me” lie just in this one paragraph alone! The wonderful thing is there’s an awareness that these are just ideas and that that illusion of an identity is dismantling and recreating itself all the time. (more…)

Awareness for daily life

Awareness is your refuge:
Awareness of the changingness of feelings,
of attitudes, of moods, of material change
and emotional change:
Stay with that, because it’s a refuge that is
It’s not something that changes.
It’s a refuge you can trust in.
This refuge is not something that you create.
It’s not a creation. It’s not an ideal.
It’s very practical and very simple, but
easily overlooked or not noticed.
When you’re mindful,
you’re beginning to notice,
it’s like this.

– Ajahn Sumedho


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