Archive for the ‘Assorted’ Category

Pay attention

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“Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
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as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves –
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slowly, evenly,
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without rushing toward the future;
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live the actual moment.
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Only this moment is life.”
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– Thich Nhat Hanh –
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Deep joy of release: “Focused and Fearless”

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“If you keep examining—
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not until you find something,
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but until you realize
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seeing without grasping,
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inquiring without fixating,
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exploring without expecting,
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knowing without controlling,
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living without suffering—
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you will discover a purity of happiness that is unbounded.
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It is a happiness beyond anything contrived by concentration: the deep joy of release.”
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Just a swinging door!

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What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door,
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which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.
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― Shunryu Suzuki –
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VICARA: SUSTAINED ATTENTION

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The second jhanic factor, vicara, the mate to vitakka, is the capacity of mind to sustain the attention on the object to which it has been directed.
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Vicara is the quality of attention that stays with and penetrates the object of perception.
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When vicara is strong, you can remain aware of the full length of the breath from the beginning, middle, and through to the end of each one.
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Vicara sinks into its object and gets to know it with penetrative clarity.
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Because vicara is an explorative aspect of thought, the term has been translated variously into English as “examination,” “sustained thought,” “pondering, contemplation,” and “investigation.”
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In the context of jhana practice, the specific function of vicara is to sustain the attention on the chosen object.
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Sustained connection stabilizes and smoothes consciousness.
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Vicara has been likened to the resounding of a bell.
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Vitakka directs the attention to the object (or strikes the bell) then vicara sustains the attention (like the lingering resounding of a bell).
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Repeatedly directing attention to the breath brings a sustained knowledge of the breath.
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Vicara holds the attention on a mental object, permitting concentration to deepen.”
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VITAKKA: DIRECTED ATTENTION


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The first jhanic factor, vitakka, refers to the capacity to direct attention at a particular perception; it is the aiming or connecting function of attention.
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Think of this process as shining a light on an object in a dark room, striking a baseball with a bat, aiming a pistol at a target, or poking a needle through a buttonhole when sewing.
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It is the clear directing of attention to its chosen object.
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The Visuddhimagga, an ancient commentary written by Buddhaghosa in the fifth century, uses the analogy of a gatekeeper who inspects people as they enter and exit the gate.
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The gatekeeper is not concerned with the business the merchants transact in the marketplace or which village they travel to when they depart.
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The gatekeeper simply checks each person as they pass through the gate.
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Just so, we direct our attention to the area between the nostrils and upper lip and examine what we find there.
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We don’t need to follow the breath inside the body or contemplate external phenomena.”
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Levels of focus and attention


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I wanted to share the depth and levels of absorption described by some meditative practices.
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The breath is simple, that simplicity has enormous expansive qualities when we develop focus.
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Sheila Catherine calls them jhanic factors.
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“These five jhanic factors and the hindrance they overcome are:
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(1) the ability to direct the attention to a chosen object overcomes dullness;
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(2) the capacity to sustain the attention on the object overcomes doubt;
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(3) feelings of delight, rapture, and interest that arise through the concentration accrued by sustained attention overcome aversion;
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(4) pervasive feelings of happiness, peace, contentment, and joy overcome restlessness; and
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(5) the stability of single-pointed focus overcomes lust and greed.”
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Thought and emptiness


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There is a space, a separation between thought and emptiness. Mindfulness cultivates the focus necessary to establish this space.
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When that gap (space) is filled by the ego, desire attaches to thought, thus fueling emotion.
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Emotion brings feelings of need, if single a mate, if poor wealth, if uncoordinated athletic prowess, if weak power.
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Now loss arrives, a feeling of inadequacy, something is missing, something needed for my happiness appears as always, in the future.
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Can we attain happiness through accomplishment?
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Remember these talented souls accomplished incredible feats but died unknown: Vincent Van Gogh, Emily Dickenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Gregor Johann Mendel, Galileo Galilei.
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So accomplishment may not garnish approval or status.
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Here again, if I did not buy into needing more, all this loss and resentment would be air, delusion, worthless, yes!
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We do not have to give up thought.
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We only need the ability to let go at times.
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We can focus, let go, empty the mind of thought, thus exposing the trap of desire, need and want.
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