True Meditation: Recognizing Basic Sanity

“There is no need of training. Awareness is always with you. The same attention that you give to the outer, you turn to the inner. No new, or special kind of awareness is needed. What you need is to be aware of being aware. Don’t be misled by the simplicity of the advice. Very few are those who have the courage to trust the innocent and the simple.”

~Nisargadatta Maharaj

In most esoteric systems and consciousness therapies, meditation is a goal-oriented process that may involve any number of strategic techniques directed at a positive and beneficial modification of the meditator’s state and condition, from the gross level that seeks material acquisition, skills enhancement, and physical life extension, to the mental plane where the attainment of unusual powers (siddhis) and fascinating transcendental experiences are sought, and ultimately to the fulfillment of an ideal of enlightenment, peace, and bliss at the so-called “spiritual” stage.

Regardless of the particular system to which one ascribes, some form of meditation is typically considered a prerequisite practice, both to calm the mind, and then to direct it towards the achievement of some desirable personal outcome, whether that be an awakening insight, a pleasant and unusual bodily sensation, a glimpse into other levels of consciousness, or simply a temporary state of heightened clarity that could prove advantageous in the realm of business competition.

business meditation

In the spiritual arena, there are innumerable texts composed by teachers and masters extolling the virtues of this or that method of meditation, with elaborate instructions for various beginner, intermediate, and expert levels of application. Moreover, one will also find detailed critiques of one particular sect’s meditation practices in comparison to another sect’s methods, in terms of efficacy and potency, and general efficiency in the attainment of the goals set forth by the umbrella religious/spiritual system.

Much of that competitive aspect is simply the usual human vanity expressed as “my way is better than your way”, played out in the religious arena. At its extreme, such attitudes predictably lead to religious conflicts and the type of sectarian strife so sadly evident both today and throughout history.

A number of examples (though thankfully mostly non-violent) of competing meditation programs could be found within Buddhism, with its various schools and sub-sects. For instance, in the school called Zen (Chan) Buddhism, which is known primarily as a meditation sect, one can find several diverse methods, each championed by its own sub-sect, and each typically going to elaborate lengths to differentiate itself from the others, as well as from other Buddhist “vehicles”.

One Zen sub-sect (Rinzai) favors the use of koans, or challenging and seemingly irrational enigmas drawn from classical “cases”, which the teacher provides for the aspirant to work with, in order to break through their mental rigidity and stimulate some trans-rational insight experience. Another Zen school (Soto), will instead focus on following or counting breaths, or else will employ a “just sitting” technique, derived from an earlier process called “silent illumination”, which involves observing one’s thoughts without any gaining idea, and which regards the assumption of the posture itself (a rather formal yogic position) as a manifestation itself of the very enlightenment that the Rinzai school is seeking to obtain via their koan program. Occasionally, another sub-sect might arise that seeks to combine the two techniques.

MtBaldy Zendo

Within Hinduism, there are even more variations on the meditation theme, which may include breath control, sound attenuation, mantras and magical incantations, numerous yogic postures and manipulation of subtle bodily energies, objects of concentrated contemplation and visualization, prayers and supplications to deities, and more advanced explorations of subtle and mystical realms achieved via mind control and various austerities, the potent intervention of a guru or spiritual preceptor, and numerous other approaches.

Regardless of the strategy, scheme, or method, the one common foundation of nearly all meditation programs at the very outset is the assumption of the inherently substantial reality of the meditator – the subject, or person (even if the eventual goal is to transcend that illusory identity). The proposition is to transform that person from a deluded being into an awakened one, from a suffering, bound, and conflicted individual into a free, peaceful, and happy one.

Essentially, all meditation programs are based on a desire to have things be other than they are, different and more agreeable. All of the many supports, such as special meditation environments, special clothing and accessories (such as incense, bells, statues, pictures, and prescribed cushions), special diets and exercises, select groups and teaching aids, and various elaborate rituals and trappings, are enthusiastically employed to dress the stage with the props believed necessary or conducive to accomplishing the purposes of the particular meditation of choice. All in all, it can become a rather elaborate affair, and more often than not, such props can actually get in the way of the very liberation being sought after, primarily by confirming the solidity of the aspirant and necessity of their ritual tools.

In contrast, true meditation begins with the recognition of the two-fold emptiness of both self and phenomena, the direct realization that subjects and objects exist purely by virtue of conceptual designation. Upon their arising, all thoughts, self-images, memories, beliefs, sensations, emotions and perceptions are revealed in true meditation as impermanent and empty of substance, like holographic phantasms. There is no requirement for some special costume or ritual in true meditation, nor any strategic plan for self-transformation and personal ascendance. The one who would accomplish any of that is recognized as an imaginative figment of a fictional story right from the beginning.

In fact, true meditation is actually non-meditation, since it has nothing to accomplish, and hence requires no effort geared towards a change of state or attainment of something extra. Nothing has to be developed, fixed, or resolved, but only recognized. It adds nothing to nor subtracts anything from experience. It simply consists of being aware of being aware, or directly noticing mind’s true nature – our native awake awareness that is self-existing and spontaneously present, open and spacious, lucid and transparent, empty of any inherent substance, and yet knowing, or cognizant, of whatever arises.

Nisargadatta Maharaj put it this way:

“To be aware is to be awake. Unaware means asleep. You are aware anyhow, you need not try to be. What you need is to be aware of being aware. Be aware deliberately and consciously, broaden and deepen the field of awareness. You are always conscious of the mind, but you are not aware of yourself as being conscious.

The mind produces thoughts ceaselessly, even when you do not look at them. When you know what is going on in your mind, you call it consciousness. This is your waking state — your consciousness shifts from sensation to sensation, from perception to perception, from idea to idea, in endless succession. Then comes awareness, the direct insight into the whole of consciousness, the totality of the mind. The mind is like a river, flowing ceaselessly in the bed of the body; you identify yourself for a moment with some particular ripple and call it: ‘my thought’. All you are conscious of is your mind; awareness is the cognisance of consciousness as a whole.”

When left unrecognized, the thinking, concept-forming, and interpretive activity of dualistic mind arises, and a continuously existing “person” is first fabricated and then taken to be who and what we are. Once we recognize this basic awareness, however, the passing parade of thoughts loses its power to seduce us into a trance of identification with a habitual state of craving and aversion — the same trance which in turn creates the illusion of a separate and enduring self — and so simply dissolves. In such recognition, any emotions, thoughts, preferences, perceptions of good and bad, and so forth are naturally released without effort. As the western teacher Adyashanti wrote: “When you rest in quietness and your image of yourself fades, and your image of the world fades, and your ideas of others fade, what’s left? A brightness, a radiant emptiness that is simply what you are.”

In true meditation, there is a clear knowing space in which thoughts arise, linger, and disappear. Once noticed, true meditation is simply relaxing into that space of silent knowingness, the transparent awake awareness between thoughts, rather than pursuing and then identifying with any thought. In the recognition of this subtle awareness, or in the knowing of that which is knowing, there is a complete absence of any conceptualizing, memory association, or anticipation. By relaxing into the pure empty clarity of this knowing awareness again and again, true meditation eventually becomes stabilized.

As the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa noted: “In the gap between former and later thoughts non-conceptual wisdom shines continuously.” A thousand years later, the contemporary master Anam Thubten echoes: “Notice that there is a gap between each thought. Notice that there is a space between the place where the last thought came to an end and the next one hasn’t arrived yet. In this space there is no “I” or “me.” That’s it.”

With every inward glance, we can notice that awake aware quality that is both empty and knowing, while remaining totally unaffected by any thoughts. True meditation is just staying with this recognition. It does not require studious analysis nor complex and progressive cultivation. Rather, it is merely a matter of recognizing our own mind nature — this very wakefulness of natural knowing that is self-existing and spontaneously present. Regardless of whatever thought forms arise in the mind, the essence does not change but remains a fresh, basic state of naturalness, which can be neither improved or corrupted by the play of consciousness.

In true meditation, attention merely shifts from its chronic obsession with mental fabrications and emotional moods to the natural state of changeless aware knowingness and silent presence. It is an effortless noticing, or as the Dzogchen teacher Mingyur Rinpoche notes:

“It is easy to recognize it. You just have to drop thinking and it is right there. There is not a lot to be done. You do not have to do this and that and the other. It is like the example of trying to touch space with your finger. To touch space, you do not have to move your finger at all, do you—it is already touching space, isn’t it?”

“It is as though your eyes are looking backwards instead of forwards as they usually do. You are looking out with your eyes but are looking back at the same time. Do not try too hard with this though, otherwise you will really make a big mistake. You just sort of look back at your mind and say, ‘Who am I? Where am I? What is this?’ When you do that, do you see the thing that is thinking? That is enough!”

In the parlance of Tibetan Dzogchen (Great Perfection) teachings, this state of true meditation is called “rigpa”. A contemporary master, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, says of it:

“What is this non-meditation? How do we meditate without meditating? Whatever situation mind is in, whether there are discursive thoughts of good, bad, clean, unclean, and so on, if you drop all of these so that you are without even a whisker of the conceptual activity of mind, the nature of mind will shine forth as non-stopped clarity and that is called self-arising rigpa. This does not need to be created or produced or purchased; when you let mind itself, just as it is, shine forth and stay in that, that is called self-arising rigpa. Someone who meditates using logical processes could never meditate on this, could never realize it.

To do this, you need to reverse your outwardly-directed attention inward and look hither towards the mind. This way of looking hither towards the mind means to rest self-settled in unhindered clarity. Having released all the bindings of passion, aggression, pride, and so on, abide in the state of this self-arising rigpa of non-stopped clarity, crystal clarity, like the sun shining in the sky. Not being caught by this and that but resting in the non-stopped clarity of whatever there is occurring in mind is called self-arising rigpa.”

“In fact, rigpa is coming all the time. It is always there so there is nothing to do. There is no meditation to do because it is there all the time. There is no need of mantra, no need to do anything in particular, no need to visualize something; it is just there.”

This natural state of thought-free wakefulness is the mind’s ever-present background and true nature, but for most of us it is obscured and so remains unappreciated, due to our compounded fixations with self and phenomena which produce the vicious cycle of grasping and avoiding that is our usual experience. However, if we then fabricate some project to remove the mind’s obscuration, we just move further away from true meditation, which is not at all about removing or improving or any of the busy work normally associated with spiritual practices, such as conventional meditation. Rather, attention is simply shifted to the knowing awareness in which the various thoughts and emotions are appearing, which immediately releases them from any binding quality. It does not require some monumental effort to “stop thought”. Such schemes are actually counter-productive, reinforcing a sense of dilemma. Mind need not be altered in any way. It does not require any addition or subtraction. It is fine just as it is.

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Traditionally, aspirants deemed ready are introduced to rigpa through certain face-to-face “pointing out instructions” with their teacher. A classic example of this direct introduction to rigpa can be found in the “Yeshe Lama” by Jigme Lingpa:

“Do not contrive or elaborate the awareness of this very moment. Allow it to be just as it is. This is not established as existing, not existing, or having a direction. It does not discern between emptiness and appearances and does not have the characteristics of nihilism and eternalism. Within this state where nothing exists, it is unnecessary to exert effort through view or mediation. The great primordial liberation is not like being released from bondage. It is natural radiance uncontrived by the intellect, wisdom unsullied by concepts.

The nature of phenomena, not tainted by the view and meditation, is evenness without placement …without premeditation. It is clarity without characteristics and vastness not lost to uniformity. Although all sentient beings have never been separate from their own indwelling wisdom even for an instant, by failing to recognize this, it becomes like a natural flow of water solidifying into ice. With the inner grasping mind as the root cause and outer objective clinging as the contributing circumstance, beings wander in samsara indefinitely. Now, with the guru’s oral instructions, at the moment of encountering awareness–without any mental constructions– rest in the way things truly are, without wavering from or meditating on anything. This fully reveals the core wisdom intent of the primordial Buddha.”

Thus, in true meditation, nothing is in need of renunciation or transformation. It is simply remaining present as this nondual awareness, the mind’s true nature, just as it is, without resort to schemes or strategies of some other, future attainment. It includes the realization that there is no difference between this moment now and supreme enlightenment. There is nothing beyond this basic state of wakefulness, nothing to grasp or avoid. This is why it is said that our ordinary mind, just as it is, is perfect and complete.

This very mind has always been fully awake, it is merely that we have not been clearly seeing our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions as they are, but instead have been adding conditional fantasies of interpretation to whatever arises, which have clouded our view and led to confusion. However, if we are able to recognize the true nature of the thought as soon as it arises, and leave it alone without pursuing it, then whatever thoughts arise all automatically self-liberate without effort or fuss. In this way, from the point of view of awake awareness, we recognize the innate purity and emptiness of whatever arises, without assigning any praise or blame, or indulging any motive to have things be other than they are.

“Buddhahood — the discovery of the Dharmakaya — is nothing other than the uncontrived and unadulterated essence of Awareness becoming evident. And because awareness is present in everyone without transition or change, I advise you to rest in the spontaneous presence of your uncontrived Awareness.”

~Longchenpa

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About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: http://www.pbase.com/1heart Essays on the Conscious Process: https://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: http://feelingtoinfinity.wordpress.com/ Verses and ramblings on life as it is: https://writingonwater934500566.wordpress.com/ Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: https://themindthatneverwas.wordpress.com/ Verses on the Play of Consciousness: https://onlydreaming187718380.wordpress.com/ Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: https://themysteriousexpanse.wordpress.com/ Poems of the Mountain Hermit: https://snowypathtonowhere.wordpress.com/ Love Poems from The Book of Yes: https://lovesight.wordpress.com/ Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: https://travelsindreamland.wordpress.com/ Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: https://freetransliterations.wordpress.com/ Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: https://westernmystics.wordpress.com/ Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: https://spiritguidesparrow.wordpress.com/ Thank You!
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60 Responses to True Meditation: Recognizing Basic Sanity

  1. grevilleacorner says:

    _/\_

    • marcel says:

      Each morning (no exception) I wake up with this very conversation lingering (literally) as a reminder (just simply aware)

  2. Bob OHearn says:

    Funny, you and I both. 🙂

  3. Bob OHearn says:

    “If we try to become, or be, it always brings in obstacles. Not becoming anything, is key. Don’t even try to remember what Paramatman (The Supreme) is. Have absolutely no thought of ‘becoming’ anything.”

    ~ Siddharameshwar Maharaj

  4. Bob OHearn says:

    “When distracted, the best thing to do is simply to recognise your essence. In that moment, we don’t see any concrete thing whatsoever. There is an immediate knowing that the essence is empty. There is something that cognises that the mind is empty, and this cognisant quality is indivisible from the emptiness itself. At the moment that this is an actuality, you don’t need to do anything more. Simply let be in naturalness, until at a certain point you forget, and it slips away. That doesn’t mean we have to keep pressing ourselves to continuously recognise mind essence. It’s like switching on a light in a room: you press the switch once and the light comes on to illuminate the room. In order for that brightness and light to stay, you don’t have to do any­thing. If on the other hand you keep pressing the switch, something gets disturbed. If in order to see the mind essence you keep saying, ‘I want to see it, I want to see it, I want to see it,’ it becomes a deliberate conceptual act. Instead, just let be, just like letting the light shine. At that point there is no other technique you have to use. This is called ‘naturalness without technique.’ We don’t have to try to keep the mind essence. It is seen without fixating.

    Mind is empty, we don’t have to make it empty. It’s not that there is something remaining that is left out or is incomplete at this point. We usually understand empty as meaning ‘there is no thing’. If you come into an empty room, there is nothing in the room. The mind is like that empty room; in actuality, it is not some object of sight, sound, smell, taste or texture. In the moment of recognising, we see that im­mediately. ‘Seen in the moment of looking, freed in the moment of seeing.’

    Do not hold onto the notion that mind is empty. To hold an idea, ‘Now it is empty; now it is empty,’ is a conceptual construct that we keep in mind. That is not necessary. In the moment of recognising, you see that mind is empty. At that point allow it to be naturally as it is, without applying any technique whatsoever. That is naturalness with­out technique. That will last for a little while. Your attention will then stray, and you will at some point notice that your attention wandered off. Our mind is not completely beyond us—we know when we get distracted. Simply recognise what was distracted. Again, the moment you do so, you see that there is no thing to see; and the moment of seeing that there is nothing to see, it is free of thought. And again leave it in uncontrived naturalness for a short while. The mind of all sentient beings is already empty; it is not something that we have to create.”

    ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

  5. Bob OHearn says:

    “I’ve often spoken of the following words of Dogen Zenji: `Zazen is not step-by-step learning meditation, it is the culmination of totally realised enlightenment.’ `Step-by-step learning meditation’ is to think of peace of mind, or awakening, or practice as something which is separate from yourself. You think you are confused or that you are a practitioner of Zen and that from now on you will practise in order to attain enlightenment or get peace of mind or some kind of quietness. In other words, you perceive a result or an ideal which is far away from you. This is `step-by-step learning medita­tion’.

    In contrast to this, I’ve often spoken of `beyond learning’. This is to leave all thoughts and emotions which arise and disappear as they are, and realise that these things are the ultimate, that they are the Way. It is to awaken to this. This is something I speak about every chance I get. Practice must be beyond learning.”

    ~Harada Roshi

  6. Bob OHearn says:

    “Although hundreds or thousands of explanations are given,
    There is only one thing to be understood –
    Know the one thing that liberates everything –
    Awareness itself, your true nature.”

    ~Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche

  7. Bob OHearn says:

    Cutting through Solidity

    “Do not meditate to arrive at a conclusion: “That’s it!” If you meditate in that way, it becomes intellectual activity. Here, there is no object of meditation whatsoever nor even an instant of distraction. Distraction from resting in awareness is true delusion. Don’t be distracted!

    Whatever thoughts arise, let them arise. Do not follow after them and do not suppress them. If you ask “In that case, what should I do?” whatever objective phenomena arise, whatever appears, do not grasp phenomena’s appearing aspect as you rest in a fresh state, like a small child looking inside a temple.

    When all phenomena are left as they are, their appearance is not modified, their color does not change, and their brilliance does not diminish. If you do not spoil phenomena with clinging and grasping thoughts, appearances and awareness will nakedly manifest as empty and luminous wisdom.

    However, many teachings considered to be very deep or extremely vast have left individuals of lesser intelligence mystified. If I put my finger on the concise essential meaning, it is this: In the gap between the last thought’s cessation and the next’s arising, isn’t there a fresh, present knowing that has not been modified even in the slightest—luminous, naked awareness? That itself is awareness’s abiding state!

    But one does not permanently abide within the nature of reality. Doesn’t a thought suddenly arise? That is the natural display of awareness. However, if you do not recognize thoughts as soon as they arise, they will naturally spread. This is called “the chain of delusion,” the root of samsara. Simple recognition of thoughts as they arise breaks their flow. Release thoughts within that recognition. When you remain in that state, arising thoughts will all be liberated equally within awareness, the expanse of dharmakaya. This is the main practice in which the view and meditation of Cutting through Solidity are cultivated as one. ”

    ~Dudjom Rinpoche

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    “Phenomena and mind are from the beginning without duality. Since, despite searching for it, one does not find the mind’s nature, there is nothing to show to another, saying: “It is like this!” Because mind and phenomena are not any thing at all, when one meditates one should not meditate on any thing. Whatever characteristics of conceptual thought may arise, if one knows that very thought to be the true nature of things, there is no need to meditate on the realm of reality as anywhere else. In that there is nothing to correct through antidotes, or to suppress. In this way, non-distraction from this real state through the three times and in all situation is the dharmakaya.”

    ~The Cuckoo of Awareness

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    “If we hold a strong intention to let go of all of our thoughts, we can witness our consciousness changing, just like flipping a coin.

    This also happens whenever we focus our attention toward simple things or events in our immediate surrounding, like the flow of breath, the sound of a dog barking, or even the stillness of the chair.

    Remember, the universe is opening countless doors for us. We just lose everything, and when we do we suddenly discover that we are residing in this new dimension of mind and we can dance in the ground of joy, love, bliss, and trust.

    This experience of flipping our consciousness can happen with the simplest method. The method must be immediate.

    If it is complicated, we may be carried away by what we are trying to resolve before we free ourselves from the entanglement.

    The radical master Tilopa said, “Inquire into the mind using the mind itself. All concepts will cease and you will see what the nature of mind is.” Just like that, the method that Tilopa taught is also central to many of the nondogmatic teachings of the Buddhist masters. What he is saying is that if you just take a moment to stop the mind from constantly perpetuating habitual patterns, you will enjoy witnessing the highest form of freedom in that moment. Mind’s habit stops in that inquiry without anything further to be done. This inquiry has no esoteric meaning. It is a sudden entering into your own nonconceptual awareness.

    This is a method of flipping the consciousness from the side of confusion to the side of clarity. The other side of consciousness is already enlightened. In Buddhist language, reaching enlightenment is called “arriving at the other shore.” That other shore is not so far from here. You will be able to cross the ocean of suffering and reach the other shore, the shore of freedom, with miraculous speed.”

    ~Anam Thubtan

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    “Our inherently present wakefulness is not something we’ll find in the future, nor something we had in the past. It’s present ‘right now’. And it’s something that we don’t have to accept or reject. Don’t do anything about it: don’t adopt it, don’t avoid it, and don’t entertain any hope or fear about it, don’t try to change it or alter it or improve it in any way. It is not necessary at all.”

    ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    “As in the sky all clouds
    Disappear into the sky itself:
    Wherever they go, they go nowhere,
    Wherever they are, they are nowhere.
    When mind looks at mind,
    The waves of conceptual thought disappear.”

    ~Machig Labdrön

  12. Bob OHearn says:

    “No meditator and no meditated,
    No paths and levels traveled and no signs,
    And no fruition bodies and no wisdoms,
    And therefore there is no nirvana there,
    Just designations using names and statements.”

    ~Milarepa

  13. Bob OHearn says:

    “In this, there is not a thing to be removed,
    Nor the slightest thing to be added.
    It is looking perfectly into reality itself,
    And when reality is seen, complete liberation.”

    Final verse from ‘The Heart of Dependent Origination’ by Nagarjuna

  14. Bob OHearn says:

    “When we say that the mind can see itself, this is not at all like an eye seeing itself. Rather, the mind, being awareness, can experience its own awareness. In fact, this is not difficult to do at all because the mind is not looking for something far away. It’s right here.

    You might ask then, if it’s right here, and it’s always been right here, why have you never seen it? The reason is that, throughout beginningless time, we have been afflicted by ignorance and, under the sway of ignorance, we have never looked. If you look, then you can recognize the mind’s true nature, which is that it has no substantial existence whatsoever and yet is not a mere nothingness or static emptiness. It is pure awareness. This is something that you can experience directly in meditation.”

    ~Thrangu Rinpoche, Pointing Out the Dharmakaya

  15. Bob OHearn says:

    A Lamp to Dispel Darkness
    An Instruction that Points Directly to the Very Essence of Mind
    In the Tradition of ‘the Old Realized Ones’

    by Mipham Jampal Dorje

    http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-masters/mipham/mipham-lamp

  16. Bob OHearn says:

    “In true meditation there is no ambition to stir up thoughts, nor is there an ambition to suppress them. They are just allowed to occur spontaneously and become an expression of basic sanity. They become the expression of the precision and the clarity of the awakened state of mind.

    There is no need to struggle to be free; the absence of struggle is in itself freedom. This egoless state is the attainment of Buddhahood. The process of transforming the material of mind from expressions of ego’s ambition into expressions of basic sanity and enlightenment through the practice of meditation – this might be said to be the true spiritual path.”

    ~ Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa

  17. Christian Parisot says:

    Hey Bob,

    I have been reading your posts for sometime now, and I must say I really enjoy them. Thanks! (I just thought I would let you know 😉 )

    Sometimes presence is easier said than done, but paradoxically, when it IS, it IS simpler than simple. And to dwell on it can become quite maddening. The trick is to realize that it is easier said than done because no-thing can be done to achieve it. To do is to move away.

    This is the great joke of the universe. Unfortunately, it is only a funny joke when in the moment of realization. But the moment of truth is always NOW!, so it IS always there. Full circle, back to the start!!!

    best,

    Christian
    ….

  18. Bob OHearn says:

    “There are many gates to meditation.The ultimate among them is the instantaneous approach. The instantaneous approach has no method. One cultivates the nature of reality in this way: phenomena are mind, and mind is uncreated. In that it is uncreated, it is emptiness. Since it is like the sky, it is not a field of activity for the six sense-faculties. This emptiness is what we call vivid awareness. Yet within that vivid awareness there is no such thing as vivid awareness. Therefore without remaining in the insights gained from studying, cultivate the essential sameness of all phenomena.”

    ~Haklena

  19. Thom Sefton says:

    Bob, i have found this thought helpful: that meditation is without ambition or expectation.
    Thank you for your posts – i have just spent some time reading them….for the first time, and i expect to come back and read some more another time.
    Take care,
    thom

  20. Bob OHearn says:

    “In True Meditation all objects (thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, etc.) are left to their natural functioning. This means that no effort should be made to focus on, manipulate, control, or suppress any object of awareness.

    In True Meditation the emphasis is on being awareness—not on being aware of objects, but on resting as conscious being itself. In meditation you are not trying to change your experience; you are changing your relationship to your experience.”

    “I found my own way was just to be present, which was to become totally open. This is more like listening than focusing. In that listening, I discovered a very natural state, a state that is actually the only state that isn’t contrived. From that state that is like listening, I started to see that every effort to contrive created another state. As soon as I made an effort, a state would be manufactured out of thin air. I could manufacture beautiful states, terrible states, concentrated states, and all sorts of states; but there was only one state that was totally natural and absolutely effortless. In that state, I found access to the deepest Self, which is freedom.”

    ~ Adyashanti

  21. Bob OHearn says:

    From 19th century Dzogchen Master, Shakya Shri Jnana’s “The Vital Essence”

    “In every instance there is an aware quality that is both empty and cognizant and neither altered nor corrupted by any thoughts. Simply keep this natural state and remain without straying from it.”

    “The Great Perfection does not require analysis nor cultivation. Rather, it is merely a matter of recognizing, as your own nature, this very wakefulness of natural knowing that is self-existing and spontaneously present throughout samsara and nirvana.”

    “Primordial purity means that the basic nature of awareness belongs to neither samsara nor nirvana, and therefore its identity is primordially pure. No type of virtuous karmic cause and effect improves this primordial purity, nor does any type of unvirtuous karmic cause and effect worsen it. This primordially pure identity of awareness can be neither improved nor harmed by anything whatsoever. It is an unchanging openness of awareness that continues throughout the day and night.”

  22. Bob OHearn says:

    “If you were to practice mindful awareness with great diligence for just a month, if you were to recognize even the slightest thought and not allow your mind to wander off into delusion for that time, even in such a short time you would witness great changes. Fierce afflictions would not faze you so much anymore, because you would have gained personal experience in observing the illusory play.”

    ~Garchen Rinpoche

  23. Bob OHearn says:

    The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said.

    ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

  24. Bob OHearn says:

    “[When] the practitioner is like the mirror which can freely reflect whatever presents itself, without the reflections in it either sticking to it or leaving any trace in it, the reflected image liberates in the very moment that it appears. Since there is no longer a mental subject that can be harmed by whatever manifests, it is said that at this stage the passions and whatever may arise are like a thief in an empty house. When one manifests this ultimate capacity of self-liberation, this is the realization . . .”

    ~Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

  25. Hi Bob. I hope its okay to repost selected parts of this beautifully articulated essay. 😉
    Let me know if you’re okay with this! I’ll be posting “parts” over the next 2 weeks with your permission.
    Jane

  26. Pingback: Being Aware of Being Aware | Counseling TidBits

  27. Pingback: Wisdom Without Concepts | Counseling TidBits

  28. Pingback: “Let Me Go, Ceaseless Mind!” | Counseling TidBits

  29. Bob OHearn says:

    Uncontrived Naturalness

    Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

    “Uncontrived naturalness is not something that one does, even though it sounds like you do remain in naturalness, and you avoid fabricating. Actually, it is the opposite of doing. One does not do anything. By repeatedly letting be in the state of uncontrived naturalness, it becomes automatic. Don’t think that there is a long moment between two thoughts that you need to somehow nail down and own. That would not be automatic; it would be fabricated. Rather than improving upon the recognition of your own nature, simply remain completely at ease. It is a matter of self-existing wakefulness getting used to itself. Do not try to keep the state of naturalness. The state will be self-kept as the natural outcome of your growing familiarity with it. Do not fall into distraction. Short moments, repeated many times… Because of our very strong habit to always do something, the moment of non-doing doesn’t usually last long. In other words, there is no real stability. We quickly create doubts through conceptual thoughts, wondering, ‘Is this it?’ or ‘Maybe not?’ Our recognition almost immediately slips away. That is just how it is, and there is not much that we can do about that initially. That is why we practice recognizing for short moments, repeated many times. If we do not repeat the recognition of mind essence, we never grow used to it. “Short moments” ensures that it is the real, authentic naturalness. For a beginner, recognition of the authentic state does not last longer than a short moment. ‘Many times’ means that we need to grow more and more familiar with this state… To be relaxed and let go in the moment of recognizing — that is the most important thing. Then, when the recognition slips away, we can simply repeat it again. In the beginning, approach the natural state by settling the mind; otherwise our strong negative habits of involvement in thinking this and that keeps the attention very busy, and a multitude of thoughts arise. The starting point is therefore letting go, relaxing, and settling completely. Among the thoughts that arise, remain, and disappear, one tries to keep the quality of relaxing and remaining. That requires effort, and thus is not the effortless natural state. Still it is helpful because when the mind becomes more quiet and settled, it’s easier to recognize what it is that feels quiet, what it is that keeps still. When your mind, your attention, is not so busy, it becomes easier to see that it is not an entity.”

  30. Bob OHearn says:

    All the qualities of your natural mind – peace, openness, relaxation, and clarity – are present in your mind just as it is. You don’t have to do anything different. You don’t have to shift or change your awareness. All you have to do while observing your mind is to recognize the qualities it already has.

    ~Mingyur Rinpoche

  31. Bob OHearn says:

    “Τhe nature of phenomena is non-dual,
    but each one, in its own state,
    is beyond the limits of the mind.
    There is no concept that can define
    the condition of ‘what is’
    but insight nevertheless manifests: All is good.
    Everything has already been accomplished, and so,
    having overcome the sickness of effort,
    one finds himself in the self-perfected state:
    This is contemplation.”

    ~Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

  32. Bob OHearn says:

    *Heart Gem for the Fortunate*

    The Great Master from Oddiyana said:

    Do not cut to the root of phenomena, cut to the root of your mind.
    Cutting to the root of your mind, then knowing that one thing, liberates everything.
    Not cutting to the root of your mind, then knowing everything, you missed that one thing.

    Therefore, when engaging in the actual practice on the ultimate truth of mind, straighten your body, let your breathing flow naturally, and look with your eyes half open at the space before you. Think to yourself that now for the benefit of all motherly sentient beings, I will look at awareness itself, the true face of Buddha Kuntu Zangpo. With devotion, fervently supplicate your root Lama who is inseparable from Orgyen Péma [Guru Rinpoché], and your mind finally united with his, rest in evenness.

    When abiding in this way, your mind will not stay in this state of luminous empty awareness for long, but will become restless, agitated, and unsettled, moving about like a monkey. This is not the nature of mind. These are called thoughts. If you pursue them, there is not one thing that these thoughts won’t think about recalling, think about needing, or think
    about doing.

    In the past, this is exactly what has thrown you unconsciously into the ocean of samsara, and moreover, it will certainly throw you there again in the future. Right now, wouldn’t it be better to limit the spread of these negative deluded thoughts?

    You may ask, “When thinking is curtailed, what does awareness look like?” It is utterly empty, totally open, spacious, free, and resplendently blissful. It has never been established as having substantial characteristics. There are no phenomena in samsara or enlightenment that are not pervaded by it. From the beginning, it is naturally and spontaneously present and never separate from oneself. It lies beyond action, effort, and the mind’s comprehension.

    Now you may ask, “What is it like to recognize the natural face of awareness?” Even though you recognize awareness itself, you do not know how to describe it, like a mute person trying to describe his dream. You do not know how to distinguish the sustainer, yourself, from the awareness that is sustained.

    Previously, you were unable to abide for even one moment, constantly thinking and doing everything: These thoughts, who are the old destroyer, have nothing to do now in the vast expanse of awareness, which is like a cloudless sky. The movement of thoughts dissolves, disperses, and falls away. All the power and strength of thought is lost in awareness. Then awareness, the wisdom of the naturally abiding dharmakaya, just abides clearly and nakedly.

    Now you may ask, “Who introduces this awareness to you? What is decided upon? How is confidence established?” Initially, you are introduced to awareness by your Lama. Through that introduction, you know your own true face and directly recognize your true nature (ngo rang thog tu’phrod). However the phenomena of samsara and enlightenment appear, know that they are none other than the natural display of awareness. Thus, decide upon this single awareness (thag rig pa gcig thog tu chod). Just as the waves of the ocean subside back into the ocean, all thoughts that arise vanish directly into awareness. Thus, gain confidence in liberation (gding grol thog tu bcas pa). Therefore, it is beyond being an object of meditation, the act of meditating, and the mind that grasps on to meditation.

    If that is so, you may say that it will be sufficient even if one does not meditate. It is not like that at all! Just by recognizing awareness one does not arrive at the state of liberation. During beginningless lifetimes, we have been confined within a structure of deluded habitual patterns. From then until now, we have spent our human existence as the servant of our worthless thoughts. At the time of death, we do not know where we will go, but we follow our karma and inevitably suffer. Therefore, now it is necessary to meditate, sustaining the continuity of awareness that was introduced.

    The great omniscient Longchenpa said:

    Although you have been introduced to your nature, if you do not become familiar with it,
    You will be carried away by the enemy of thought like an infant in battle.

    Generally, what is called meditation means resting in awareness without distraction or clinging and sustaining its continuity through original mindfulness of the state of naturalness, thus becoming accustomed to the original essential nature. Furthermore, when you are meditating and thoughts arise, the way to become familiar with your nature is to let them arise. There is no need to view them as enemies. Relax naturally in their arising. If they do not arise, do not try to make it so. Just rest directly in its non-arising.

    Also, when meditating, if a gross thought suddenly appears, it is easily recognized. But in regard to subtle thoughts, until a few have arisen, you are not aware of them. Therefore, they are called undercurrents of thought. Because these undercurrents of thought act as the sneaky thieves of meditation, it is very important to place the sentry of mindfulness on guard. If you can sustain the continuity of mindfulness in all situations, whether eating, sleeping, moving about, or sitting, in meditation or in post-meditation, that itself is enough.

    The Great Master said:

    Although hundreds or thousands of explanations are given,
    There is only one thing to be understood:
    Know the one thing that liberates everything;
    Sustain awareness itself, your true nature.

    The Great Master also said:

    If one does not meditate, confidence is not gained,
    But if one meditates, confidence will be gained.

    What kind of confidence will be gained? By meditating with intensive diligence in this way, there will be signs that familiarity has been actualized, such as this: Concrete tight clinging and grasping to the solidity of dualistic perception gradually relaxes, and the many efforts associated with happiness and suffering, hope and fear will lessen. Your devotion toward your Lama will intensify and trust in your Lama’s profound instructions will arise from your heart. After a time, the solid mind that clings to duality will disappear by itself. Then gold and rocks become equal. Food and excrement become equal. Gods and demons become equal. Virtuous actions and negative actions become equal. You will not have a preference between pure lands and hell realms.

    Until this happens, to the face of dualistic mind, there will be virtue; there will be negative actions; there will be pure lands; there will be hell realms. There will be joy and sorrow, and action and its results are all undeniable.

    This being so, the Great Master said:

    My view is higher than the sky;
    My attention toward karma and its consequences is finer than flour.

    For this reason, it is not acceptable to say, “We are Great Perfection practitioners,” or “We are great meditators,” while stinking from alcohol, farting, and sleeping. Instead, establish a foundation with pure faith, devotion, and tantric commitments, follow the main practice with an intense unrelenting diligence, and put aside all the activities of this meaningless life in order to meditate. The special quality of the profound path of the Great Perfection is that you will certainly reach the unassailable state in this very lifetime without relying on future lives.

    My Lama said:

    I am an old man, thinking of nothing other than my Lama, reciting nothing but supplication prayers, sustaining nothing but non-action. Like this, I am at ease. Now I am happy, carefree, and at ease, without fixation.

    – Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdral Yeshé Dorjé – Wisdom Nectar – Shambhala Publications

  33. Bob OHearn says:

    When you meditate, do not try to have good thoughts, do not try to keep away bad thoughts, do not try to stop thoughts, and do not try to go after them. Rather, rest in a state of being aware of the thoughts as they arise.

    ~Kalu Rinpoche

  34. Bob OHearn says:

    Our inherently present wakefulness is not something we’ll find in the future, nor something we had in the past. It’s present ‘right now’. And it’s something that we don’t have to accept or reject. Don’t do anything about it: don’t adopt it, don’t avoid it, and don’t entertain any hope or fear about it, don’t try to change it or alter it or improve it in any way. It is not necessary at all.

    ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

  35. Bob OHearn says:

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/erik-van-wees/nonconceptual-meditation/1005044712895095

    In nonconceptual meditation the emphasis is on completely resting the mind. Of course we rest as much as possible in all of the previous meditation styles, but here the essence of the practice is to simply rest openly on whatever appears to the mind and senses. There is no fixation, and we do not focus on any object.

  36. Bob OHearn says:

    The essence of meditation practice is to let go of all your expectations about meditation.

    ~ Mingyur Rinpoche

  37. Bob OHearn says:

    Resting one’s mind without fabrication is considered the single key point of the realization of all the countless profound and extensive oral instructions in meditation practice such as Mahamudra, Dzogchen, Lamdrey, Cho, Zhije and so forth. The oral instructions appear in various modes due to the differences in ways of human understanding.

    Some meditators regard meditation practice as simply a thought-free state of mind in which all gross and subtle perceptions of the six senses have ceased. This is called straying into a dull state of shamatha.

    Some presume stable meditation to be a state of neutral dullness not embraced by mindfulness.

    Some regard meditation as complete clarity, smooth bliss or utter voidness and cling to those experiences.

    Some chop their meditation into fragments, believing the objective of meditation to be a vacant state of mind between the cessation of one thought and the arising of the next.

    Some hold on to such thoughts as, “The mind-nature is dharmakaya! It is empty! It cannot be grasped!” To think, “Everything is devoid of true existence! It is like a magical illusion! It is like space!” and to regard that as the meditation state is to have fallen into the extreme of intellectual assumption.

    Some people claim that whatever is thought or whatever occurs is of the nature of meditation. They stray into craziness by falling under the power of ordinary thinking.

    Most others regard thinking as a defect and inhibit it. They believe in resting in meditation after controlling what is being thought and tie themselves up in fixated mindfulness or an ascetic state of mind.

    In short, the mind may be still, in turmoil as thoughts and disturbing emotions, or tranquil in any of the experiences of bliss, clarity, and nonthought. Knowing how to sustain the spontaneity of innate naturalness directly in whatever occurs, without having to fabricate, reject or change anything is extremely rare.

    TSELE NATSOK RANGDROL
    “THE LAMP OF MAHAMUDRA”

  38. Bob OHearn says:

    “Basically and fundamentally, our mind is utterly empty, sheer bliss, totally naked. We do not need to make it like this; we do not need to cultivate it by meditating, to create this state by meditating.

    Give up thinking of anything at all, about the past, the future or the present. Remain thought-free, like an infant.

    Innate suchness is unobscured the moment you are not caught up in present thinking.

    That which prevents us from being face to face with the real Buddha, the natural state of mind, is our own thinking. It seems to block the natural state.

    Rigpa, the Natural State, is not cultivated in meditation. The awakened state is not an object of the intellect. Rigpa is beyond intellect, and concepts.

    This is the real Buddhadharma, not to do a thing. Not to think of anything Like Saraha said, “Having totally abandoned thinker and what is thought of, remain as a thought-free child.”

    Thinking is delusion.

    When caught up in thinking we are deluded. To be free of thinking is to be free.

    That freedom consists in how to be free from our thinking.

    As long as the web of thinking has not dissolved, there will repeatedly be rebirth in and the experiences of the six realms.
    The method: But if you want to be totally free of conceptual thinking there is only one way: through training in thought-free wakefulness. (rigpa).

    Strip awareness to its naked state.

    If you want to attain liberation and omniscient enlightenment, you need to be free of conceptual thinking.

    Being free of thought is liberation.

    This is not some state that is far away from us: thought-free wakefulness actually exists together with every thought, inseparable from it… but the thinking obscures or hides this innate actuality.

    Thought free wakefulness (the natural state) is immediately present the very moment the thinking dissolves, the moment it vanishes, fades away, falls apart.

    Simply suspend your thinking within the non-clinging state of wakefulness: that is the correct view.”

    ~Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche

  39. Bob OHearn says:

    “When you meditate, do not try to have good thoughts, do not try to keep away bad thoughts, do not try to stop thoughts, and do not try to go after them. Rather, rest in a state of being aware of the thoughts as they arise.”

    ~ Kalu Rinpoche

  40. Bob OHearn says:

    “The root of meditation is mind looking at itself:

    If you can’t find anything at all, simply rest within the experience.
    If wild thoughts accost you, simply look at their nature –
    If they vanish, simply rest within the experience.
    If you suddenly feel the meditation has vanished, don’t wonder where it may have gone, just look…
    If you wonder, ‘where’s it gone?’ Simply rest in that thought.

    To stare for too long will cause a darkening or dulling of the mind; as such, look only for short periods, many times.

    Eventually, when death befalls you and the outer breath ceases, you will be able to recognize the dawning of empty-clarity.”

    ~KHENCHEN TASHI OZER

  41. Bob OHearn says:

    “You don’t have to do anything with your mind, just let it naturally rest in its essential nature.
    Your own mind, unagitated, is reality.
    Meditate on this without distraction.
    Know the Truth beyond all opposites.
    Thoughts are like bubbles that form and dissolve in clear water. Thoughts are not distinct from the absolute Reality, so relax; there is no need to be critical.
    Whatever arises, whatever occurs, simply don’t cling to it, but immediately let it go.
    What you see, hear, and touch is your own mind. There is nothing but mind. Mind transcends birth and death.
    The essence of mind is pure Consciousness that never leaves reality, even though it experiences the things of the senses.
    In the equanimity of the Absolute, there is nothing to renounce or attain.”

    ~Niguma

  42. Bob OHearn says:

    Whatever thought comes, whatever it is, even the thought of meditation: stop. Discover the source of these thoughts: “I have to meditate, I have to be free, I need freedom”. Keep quiet and wait. Find out from where these thoughts are coming. Return back to the source of these same thoughts and tell me what you see. What do you call this? Where will it lead you? It will strike at your mind forever and you will become what you have always been. You will not find this through any method, don’t be deceived once again by your mind.

    You are here to be free, in this very instant, without doing anything, without even stirring a single thought. That’s why you are here. I don’t tell you to go to the Himalayas, or to the caves or to the forest. I have seen many people with head hanging down, doing penance, I have seen many in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas: they did not discover freedom. It is here and now. What is there to think about this? Even without thinking, you are That. The habit of thinking, of doing something, is your only impediment. Give at least one second to yourself, without doing anything, without even thinking. Do not make any kind of effort, and see the result.

    ~Papaji

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