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Just Being (Awareness)

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Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/23/17 7:08 AM
Found this useful to read when dealing with struggles with some form of compulsion to want to do more:
When you’re caught in that conventional realm and that’s all you know, you’re easily intimidated and blinded by all the dazzling positions and attitudes and ideas that people throw at you. So this is where trusting in awareness is not a matter of having the best, or feeling that maybe you should have something better than what you have. That’s a creation of your mind, isn’t it? When you establish what is adequate, it’s not based on what is the best but on what is basic for survival and good health.

In Buddhist monasticism the four requisites are an expression of this. You don’t have to have the best food and the best robes; you just have to have what’s adequate in terms of survival. Is there any problem with requiring a place to stay or medicine for sickness? It doesn’t have to be the very best. In fact, the standard is often established at the lowest point, like rag-robes rather than silk robes. Then the DhammaVinaya is respected and taught. These give us a sense of a place where we can live. Standards aren’t placed at the very best, but if the Dhamma is taught and the Vinaya is respected, the four requisites are adequate, then that’s good enough. So go for it! Go for the practice rather than quibble about the rest. It’s better to develop one’s awareness rather than going along with one’s feelings of criticism or doubt in dealing with the people and the place you are in.

I contemplated this compulsive attitude in myself until I could really see it. It was very insidious, not just a one-off insight. It reminded me of how I approached life in general, full of shoulds, always feeling there was something I should or shouldn’t be doing. Just notice and listen to this and learn to relax and trust in the refuge. This is very humbling because it doesn’t seem like anything. It seems like it’s not worth much, this attention in the present. ‘So what? I want something I should be doing. Tell me what to do next. How many hours should I be sitting? How many hours should I be walking? What should I be developing? Should I do more mettā?’ We want something to do and feel very ill at ease when there’s nothing to do, nowhere to go. So in monastic life we do offer conventions and structures. We have morning and evening puja (meditation and devotional practices) and fortnightly recitations and so forth, which gives a conventional form to use in order to do something. Then there’s chanting and piṇḍapāta (alms-round) and all these things that are part of our tradition. This structure is there to help us, like sīla for behaviour and structure for the community.
When people go on self-retreat, they let go of the structure and are thrown onto their own. What happens when you’re on your own and nobody knows what you’re doing? You don’t have to look around to see if the senior monk is watching you. You’re left to your own devices, so you could sleep all day or you could read novels or go for long walks, or you could really practise hard. There’s a whole range of possibilities, and it’s left up to you to notice that feeling of what happens when the structure is removed. It’s not that one does this in a judgemental way, bringing back the shoulds, such as ‘I should practise so many hours a day, sit so many hours, walk so many hours, do this and do that, get my practice, get my samādhi together, really get somewhere in my practice.’ Not that that’s wrong, but that may be a very compulsive thing. If you don’t live up to it, then what do you feel like? Do you feel guilt-ridden if you don’t do what you’ve determined to do? Notice how the mind works and awaken to it.

It’s easy if there is a strong leader who tells you to do this and do that and everybody comes, everybody leaves, and everybody marches in step and so forth. This is good training also. But that brings up resistance and rebellion in some people who don’t like it. In contrast to this, other people don’t like it when someone isn’t telling them what to do next, because it leaves them uncertain. They like the security of everything being controlled and held together by a strong leader. But recognize that this monastic life is for the liberation of the heart. Some strong leaders browbeat you or manipulate you emotionally by saying, ‘If you really want to please me, you will do this. I won’t give you my approval if you don’t behave properly,’ and things like this. I can use my emotional power to try to control and manipulate the situation, but that’s not skilful. That’s not what we’re here for. The onus is on each one of us, isn’t it? It’s about waking up.
But don’t think you have to wake up because Ajahn Sumedho says so. Waking up is just a simple, immanent act of attention: open, relaxed listening, being here and now. It’s learning to recognize that, to appreciate that more and more and to trust it. Because you’re probably emotionally programmed for the other – either you should or you shouldn’t. What we’re trying to do here is to provide a situation where you are encouraged to trust and to cultivate this. When we say ‘cultivate’ it’s not like having to do anything. It’s more learning to relax and trust in being with the flow of life. Because life is like this.


Things change. So we are open to change. We’re not demanding that things change in any way that we want it to or that when it’s at a peak that we can keep it that way. That’s impossible. But you can be aware when you’re at your best or your worst, when you’re feeling good, inspired, and enthusiastic or despairing, depressed, and disheartened. This awareness is your refuge. Awareness of the changingness of feelings, of attitudes, of moods: stay with that, because it’s a refuge that is indestructible. 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. Whenever you’re mindful, you’re beginning to notice: it’s like this.

For instance, when I remind myself that this is pure, this moment, I really make a note of this. This is the path. This is purity. Not anything that I’m creating, just this state of attention. Not attention like ‘Achtung!’ – it’s more of a relaxed attention. Listening, open, receptive. When you relax into that, it’s a natural state, not a created state. It’s not dependent on conditions making it that way. It’s just that we forget it all the time and get thrown back into the old habits. This is why with mindfulness, we’re remembering it more, trusting it more, and cultivating this way of bringing ourselves back into this awareness. Then we get carried away again and come back again. We keep doing that. No matter how recalcitrant, difficult, or wild the emotions or thoughts may be, it’s all right. This is the refuge.

RE: Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/23/17 8:05 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
We can apply this awareness to everything, such as being personally wounded. When somebody says something that is hurtful, ask the question, ‘What is it that gets hurt?’ If somebody insults me or abuses me in some way and I feel hurt or misunderstood, offended, annoyed, or even angry, what is it that gets angry and annoyed, that gets offended? Is that my refuge – that personality whose feelings get hurt and upset? If I have awareness as a refuge, this never gets upset by anything. You can call it anything you want. But as a person, I can be easily upset. Because the personality, the sakkāya-diṭṭhi, is like that – based on ‘me’ being worthwhile or worthy, being appreciated or not appreciated, being understood properly or misunderstood, being respected or not respected, and all this kind of thing.

My personality is wide open to be hurt, to be offended, to be upset by anything. But personality is not my refuge. If your personality is anything like mine, I wouldn’t advise you to take it as a refuge. I wouldn’t for a minute want to recommend anyone taking refuge in my personality. But in awareness, yes. Because awareness is pure. If you trust it more and more, even if you’re feeling upset, disrespected, and unloved and unappreciated, the awareness knows that as being anicca, impermanent. It’s not judging. It’s not making any problems. It’s fully accepting the feeling that ‘nobody loves me, everybody hates me’ as a feeling. And it goes away naturally. It drops off because its nature is change.

What follows might not be suitable for all, as I have not seen it put up, link: 

https://cdn.amaravati.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Ajahn-Sumedho-Volume-4-The-Sound-of-Silence.pdf

RE: Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/23/17 1:24 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Those are really good quotes. It reminds me of Thanissaro's quote on making awareness your "landing strip" so you don't crash in the hills somewhere else. I still think that it's Sensing Introversion (verification of where you are or correctness), and Sensing Extraversion (enjoyment of what you have now), but we still need that Intuition to create something new and search for something better. It just can't be all the time to an extreme level. It's the feeling of "act now or you will miss out" marketing we are used to, because it works. We need to train the brain to miss out so you can avoid unnecessary bad consequences. Pros and cons.

RE: Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/24/17 3:52 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
I've also only been doing this form of "Do Nothing" meditation recently, I thought I was already doing Choiceless Awareness till I found that I have not totally let go of control, especially with thoughts in that I have been stopping more than a few. Had a cessation interrupt the mind humming a carol... Hilarious. Enjoy!

Do Nothing Meditation:-

Shinzen Young: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ6cdIaUZCA
Actualized Org: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4yipKfO8nA

* In the beginning before the switch is flipped, you might feel like dozing off, just let anything happen be, the mind will come back on after seemingly going on holidays.

RE: Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/24/17 1:30 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
That pdf is interesting, but what is the 'sound of silence' if you have tinnitus? I've never known 'true' silence anyway considering I always have an incessant ringing in my ears.

Has Ajahn Sumedho addressed this?

RE: Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/24/17 10:47 PM as a reply to D..
Deepankar:
That pdf is interesting, but what is the 'sound of silence' if you have tinnitus? I've never known 'true' silence anyway considering I always have an incessant ringing in my ears.

Has Ajahn Sumedho addressed this?
The main point is not the sound of silence or anything else but realizing the way it is now.

I used to have the nada 'ringing' sound come on and off since young. Hated it and seen kids crying, running to their mother because of it. Only had it on command recently but not turn it off, unfortunately; fortunately, I like its companionship now. Perhaps it is best for us to appreciate it as another great object of concentration, accept it and let the mind know that, like all else happening in the eternal now: it is what it is, suchness and that's really just that. Because whatever we are experiencing now, is what it is, anything to gain or to lose will cause suffering (big or small), so do what you reasonably can (not sacrifice big for something small) or embrace it for what it is. Enjoy being alive and the sound of silence verifies that...

Much Metta/Karuna to you... I know life is a crazy paradox of things to do/be and yet acceptance seems to be the way to live, especially with things we cannot change. A healthy strive is necessary to have a good life but it won't hurt to check back with reality - Why do we want it? Do we need it? Will it really make me happier? 

And ask yourself, what are the things about me/my life that I dislike but cannot change, what would happen if I accept them? Could be nice to live that out for a few moments...

RE: Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/25/17 1:23 AM as a reply to D..
Deepankar:
That pdf is interesting, but what is the 'sound of silence' if you have tinnitus? I've never known 'true' silence anyway considering I always have an incessant ringing in my ears...

I've had tinnitus since I was young.  I started recognizing nada after about 11 months of practice. Tinnitus is a high frequency, Nada is completely different, a very low rumble and it feels like it comes about via different mechanism than tinnitus does.

RE: Just Being (Awareness)
Answer
11/25/17 2:43 AM as a reply to Matt.
Tinnitus is a high frequency, Nada is completely different, a very low rumble

This is very interesting! Can you (kindly, pretty please!) go listen to test tones and share which you hear?

A link: http://wooferbasstest.com/sound-test-1khz-5khz-10khz-16khz/sound-effects.html

The primary soundwave I hear is in between 6-9 as it isnt 5 nor 10 kHz... There are lower notes but no rumbling!