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?


Anxious to live life meaningfully, mindfully

Anxiety comes in many forms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health as many as 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder (source, and more info here). When there is a real surge of anxiety, the afflicted person can end up virtually non-functional. The mental activity tends to go in a dangerous spiraling motion (thoughts of dread, regret, meaninglessness, etc.), the body may respond violently (trembling, vomiting), and a panic attack can set off totally paranoid behaviors (e.g., unable to leave the house). This is mind and this is serious stuff.


Keep questioning!

After reading Toni Packer’s The Silent Question again, I am reminded why I don’t readily adopt labels and that proclaiming that I’m Buddhist could put me in a box that I don’t want to be in and that doesn’t reflect reality. The fact is I currently have a lot of saddha (faith or confidence) and I have to in order to meditate all of my waking hours. I am immersed in a Buddhist culture, am living with monastics and have dedicated my life solely to practice right now. We’ll see if things change upon leaving Burma, getting back to the States, etc., but what’s important is that this practice is about daily life, and about making meditation a way of living, so that’s why for the first time I feel a need to identify with the religion…but really, it’s the self-inquiry and the questioning that matters (which can be entirely independent of anything faith-based). And the learning. The direct experiential learning. My teacher said the other day that wisdom (paññā) is what makes life meaningful. Wisdom being a synonym here for knowledge, insight, skillful practice, all in terms of the understanding of ultimate reality (anicca, dukkha, annatā).


Selfish selflessness

The very popular S.N. Goenka style Vipassana retreats are taught around the world by video dhamma talk, and are a consistent 10-days of silence, starting with three and a half days of anapanasati (breath awareness) instruction and the remaining days introducing the body-sweeping technique as originally taught by U Ba Khin. Actually, my first long retreat and longest retreat to this day (about to change!) was also in this style. I have since explored other teachers because I found the technique as taught by Goenka quite rigid and because it’s very important to me to have a teacher that is teaching in an individual way, to exactly where I am now. That’s hard to do by video.


A revolutionary view on relationship

When one has a dedicated meditation practice, one of the things that is unmistakable in watching our thoughts, bodily sensations, reactions, emotions, mental wanderings, and the like is that everything is impermanent. Anicca. How does the idea of a committed partnership or love relationship reconcile with this very basic fact of life, the arising and passing of everything? In many ways it doesn’t. And yet, there is such a good reason to work at it, and commit to relationship as practice, as long as we keep in mind the following reflections / remembrances. (more…)

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