Week 3 - Relating to the Direct Experience

For this session we read and discussed the Guidelines for Mindful Dialogue as a way to foster a safe and intimate space in which to deepen the exploration of meditation and the dharma.  These guidelines can be found at our website here.  We then listened to a talk excerpted from CD 3 of The Inner Art of Meditation, in which Jack spoke of  finding a stillness in the midst of activity, not about changing things but being with them as they are.  He described various kinds of pain and pointed to meditation as a way to develop a long-enduring mind.  He indicated that patience is the most important quality, quoting St. Francis de Sales, “what you need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience."  

Here are the questions and practices for this week.  Please feel free to comment about your practice or pose any questions you have to the community on the blog.

Questions:

  1. Insight meditation by its very name indicates something like thinking, mental, etc… But Suzuki Roshi spoke of a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience.  How can you bring those into your meditation?
  2. Did you experience pain/discomfort/restlessness in the sitting? How did you relate to it? (There are no correct answers!)
  3. Jack speaks of “stillness in the midst of things” –
  • What do you think he means?
  • What does this mean to you?
  • How can you practice it off the cushion?

Practices:

  1. Pay close attention to the moment of recognizing that your attention has wandered. Notice your attitude – accepting, judging, a desire to continue with the distraction, etc…
  2. If some form of physical discomfort arises while you are meditating, try investigating the experience. Allow it to be the object of attention rather than moving immediately back to the breath. Notice your relationship to the discomfort (aversion, judgment, curiosity for example).
  3. Jack emphasizes kindness, gentleness, “a loving reception”.  At the start of a meditation, set an intention to include this attitude in your meditation.