Discussions of Korean 선종 / Sŏn / Seon / Soen Buddhism.
When we have spent a good deal of time in meditation and have eventually acquired the knack of allowing the thought stream to slacken down to a dribble or even dry up altogether , we first become aware of a profound peace-of-mind. This is variously described by the Zen Masters as bliss, great joy, the great treasure and ( by the Buddha) as Nirvana. Objectively it is awareness free of the burden of that thought stream.
But there is another state of mind beyond bliss in which we become aware of what has been described as ” the void”. This is unpredicated awareness. It feels as if you are in a bright, cool , calm , boundless space, completely separated from body and mind. It has no intrinsic value - it is just mental gymnastics and it has some undesirable connotations in that it tends to isolate you from thinking efficiently when it comes down to the humdrum but essential business of living out your life.
The result of repeated exposure to these states of mind during meditation is that where once an undercurrent of random and habitual thought plagued your mind generating feelings of discontent and dissatisfaction and all the stress that goes with that, there is now an undercurrent of their opposites. You will find that the quality of your life has greatly improved . This is the great treasure of zazen. It gives you access to the common human goal – happiness – by applying the psychology of that experience.
1/ Solving problems and satisfying appetites demands efficient use of conscious mental activity. (CMA)
2/ Once the problems are solved etc. CMA has completed its invaluable role and (ideally) we abstain from further using it, for the time being. Let it go.
3/ Simultaneously once the problems are solved etc. we feel content, fulfilled, happy.
4/ From 2 an3 it becomes apparent that a reduction in CMA actually produces a feeling of happiness.
5/ It follows that practicing abstaining from CMA will produce higher and higher degrees of the feeling .
6/ That is what the Buddha meant when he said:
Nirvana is the extinction of dukkha.(random and habitual CMA)
Well, no. Months-long "glimpses"? Are you kidding?
Teachers said what they said. And of course, there was nothing to do but move on, but NOT in the way of moving toward something ELSE, but instead to live this large life that had opened, to allow Wisdom and Compassion to arise as they do, and to continue Samadhi practice in order to maintain this very Mind (not to NEGLECT practice). To continue to develop upaya.
The upshot, and even literal advice, was, "Take good care of yourself!" Now, Aitken Roshi's way of saying this was "Take good care of your Realization!" So this is also what my Diamond Sangha teacher said (who was Aitken's second transmitted heir).
Moving right along, now,
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