“You hold in your hand an invitation: to remember the transforming power of forgiveness and loving kindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.”
A MIND LIKE SKY
Meditation comes alive through a growing capacity to release our habitual entanglement in the stories and plans, conflicts and worries that make up the small sense of self, and to rest in awareness. In meditation we do this simply by acknowledging the moment-to-moment changing conditions—the pleasure and pain, the praise and blame, the litany of ideas and expectations that arise. Without identifying with them, we can rest in the awareness itself, beyond conditions, and experience what my teacher Ajahn Chah called jai pongsai, our natural lightness of heart. Developing this capacity to rest in awareness nourishes samadhi (concentration), which stabilizes and clarifies the mind, and prajna (wisdom), that sees things as they are.
We can employ this awareness or wise attention from the very start. When we first sit down to meditate, the best strategy is to simply notice whatever state of our body and mind is present. To establish the foundation of mindfulness, the Buddha instructs his followers “to observe whether the body and mind are distracted or steady, angry or peaceful, excited or worried, contracted or released, bound or free.” Observing what is so, we can take a few deep breaths and relax, making space for whatever situation we find.
From this ground of acceptance we can learn to use the transformative power of attention in a flexible and malleable way. Wise attention—mindfulness—can function like a zoom lens. Often it is most helpful to steady our practice with close-up attention. In this, we bring a careful attention and a very close focus to our breath or a sensation, or to the precise movement of feeling or thought. Over time we can eventually become so absorbed that subject and object disappear. We become the breath, we become the tingling in our foot, we become the sadness or joy. In this we sense ourself being born and dying with each breath, each experience. Entanglement in our ordinary sense of self dissolves; our troubles and fears drop away. Our entire experience of the world shows itself to be impermanent, ungraspable and selfless. Wisdom is born.
JACK KORNFIELD is one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America. Trained in the monasteries of Thailand, Burma and India, he is one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness and vipassana meditation to the West. His approach emphasizes compassion, lovingkindness and the profound path of mindful presence. A founder of The Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Center his books have been translated into 20 languages and sold over a million copies worldwide.
FROM OUR STORE
GREAT MYSTERY ONLINE SALON series BEING HERE NOW with RAM DASS
and friends Jack Kornfield • Ramashwar Das • Mirabai Bush • Dale Borglum
BOOK The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom
BOOK A Lamp in the Darkness: Illuminating the Path Through Difficult Times
BOOK The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace
BOOK After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path