Thank you for keeping this practice alive so the following exists!
If we don’t go through the process of suffering
Then become aware of suffering
Then resist change because suffering has become our norm
Then becomming aware of meditation practice
And having the fortune of karma and synchronicity of support
Then having and continuing to practice watching the rise and fall of suffering
We would never evolve to knowing the true nature of suffering
It’s rise and fall expressed as impermanence. If we remain unattached suffering will come and go.
My belief is there are a lot of Buddhas. One of my guides always says Buddhas. Not “The Buddha” singular. She readily agrees that there may not have been a Gautama figure since we have no accurate historical records as of yet. The probability is high. So, she uses Buddhas as a generic term that covers all the past wisdom teachers and persons who have kept this whole thing going for thousands of years.
Heraclitus is one example of someone who had a handle on some Zen and Tao. He was the person to whom we attribute the idea of never being able to step in the same river twice. A very deep understanding of how the Zen position of the universe can be relayed in a few words. It is reported that Jesus said “Be like little children” which is another Zen and Taoist baseline. “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” Elanor Roosevelt. This is a distinctly Zen philosophy. Read Pema Chodren, Cheri Huber, and Geri Larkin. There are a lot of historical and current Buddhas and Boddhisatvas.
All the Buddhas were pointing to the beginning lines of this blog. Gautama was really focused on reducing suffering. The “End all suffering bit” sounds good but I don’t really see life as complete without the rising of some suffering. Absolutes don’t seem to fit well with the rest of the Gautama Buddha’s teachings. Rather it seems like the process he taught really revolves around balancing things. Suffering, Non-suffering, Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Joy, Fear, and all the emotional siblings we have managed to identify. We tend to identify and catalogue feelings as singularities despite the fact that the emotional whirlpool doesn’t present singularities but degrees and mixtures of feelings. Feelings are never singular and never of constant intensity or duration.
When your heart is aching, you feel all is lost, and you feel hopeless and depressed do this. Take the risk to do this. Sit and focus on the breathing cycle. Count your breaths to ten. The mind will move from the hopeless state to the state of focusing on the breath and counting. It will then move back to the hopeless state and back to counting , over and over. Your immediate reaction may be “I feel so bad why bother?” And, “This is never going to work.” Ignore that voice long enough to do the experiment. You will notice that no matter how briefly, you can redeploy your attention at least momentarily. Redeploying focus and disidentifying with our thinking is what we learn in meditation.
What is that state between the focus on the breath and the feelings of depression? It’s and interesting little place where you redirect and redeploy your attention. Where does the depression go when your mind is focused on the breath? Does it hide under the surface and return to bite? If you believe it is existing what agency is it’s container until it can return? What is keeping it alive until it returns?
Or, does it feel that it does not return from hiding anywhere? In fact while you’re focused on the breathing cycle your sadness is gone. Then, in order for conditioned mind to stay in the center of it all, conditioned mind RETURNS THE FOCUS OF ATTENTION to the suffering state and emotional turmoil.
Where does the breathing focus go when you are focused on your sadness? Does it lie beneath the surface ready to strike? No. You know that because preparing to follow the breath was somewhat difficult in a saddened state. You had to use your focus to turn your attention to another activity no matter how simple. You were probably breathing anyway right? (I hope!) So your conscious decision was to turn your focus to the process in existence. Something that is not an idea, fantasy, or extract. Breathing is something real. It goes on regardless of your attention. It is a steady constant activity in the here and now.
If nothing else occurs during this experiement what it will offer you is the proof that:
Even intense sadness is not a solid state continous function. It rises and falls, brightens and fades, and grows and shrinks constantly.
Sadness drifts in and out of focus by degrees. Most emotions have a period of tanglble existence. This rarely lasts long. The emotion then starts to flunctuate in density and depth. It gets lighter and darker. If we stay aware and do the experiement to redeploy attention we find this to be true.
This is of immense importance becuase at this point we can start to disidentify with our sad state as a permanent identity. We can disidentify because we have the experience that it comes and goes. The rising and falling is now real and not just a concept.
The point we come to realize is this rise and fall, the existence of Samudaya/Nirodha. Once internalized we are free of the persective of a permanent state. We can start to see clearly that sadness is a part of us, it’s not a prison cell, and we are not shackeled to it by a chain. We have choice on where we can place our attention. This doesn’t dissolve sadness and it does not resolve the real life or imagined issues that enabled the sadness.
It turns the perspective towards accepting the message of the Buddhas:
Everything rises and falls.
Everything comes and goes.
So what do you think? Does this work for you? As always I am interested to hear about your experience.