Oct 28, 2015

Article Joel Baehr sent me thought you would benefit from.

 Formal Practice
Establish the Nature of the Path in the Sphere of the Foundation of All

Once we have arrived at this point honestly, with insight and intelligence, the nature of the meditative practice shifts. Now we free the mind of the conceptualizations we were using before, free it of any kind of ideation or discursive thought, any conceptual grasping to past, present, or future. The mind relaxes in the nature of non-grasping, and yet we maintain a state of vivid clarity, free of dullness or agitation.
This state is what Chekawa identifies in this next verse. The nature of the path is our own mind and the foundation of all isshunyata, or emptiness. The ontological foundation (or absence thereof) of all phenomena is emptiness of inherent existence; and from emptiness arise myriad phenomena, whether objective, subjective, or transcendent. Having arrived at the awareness of that emptiness, you then abide in it free of conceptualization, with the mind at rest, without tension but with vivid clarity.
When conceptualization eventually starts to creep back in, the author advises us at that very moment to direct our awareness to awareness itself. Look right at the conceptualization, and, as it vanishes, maintain the awareness, once again bringing to mind the experience of emptiness. Abide there, he says, rest in the sphere of reality, and thereby liberate your mind.
He also encourages us to limit this phase of the meditation to relatively brief periods. This avoids that spaced-out, nonconceptual state we have all experienced, where the mind is peaceful but not very clear, with no real vividness or insight. We may also return to the more analytical, investigative meditation, arrive once again at the insight, and then again enter the non-conceptual, non-grasping state of awareness. During one session we may have numerous short periods of this meditative equipoise.
It's time to ask why we should do any of the preceding. Even if the world is illusory in nature, even if objective, subjective, and transcendent phenomena do not exist intrinsically, why should we do any of this? In other words, what's in it for us? The answer is the solution to a fundamental problem.
Our minds are not a blank slate without ideas and assumptions regarding reality, our own existence, the nature of our minds and our environment. On the contrary, we instinctively sense that phenomena, internal and external, exist in their own right. And this causes problems. For example, let us bring to mind someone we really despise. Now see if our mind isn't grasping that person as an entity in his or her own right, intrinsically existent, totally independent, and ultimately responsible for his or her own actions. See if we don't also do the same thing for ourselves. In response to the question, "Who am I?" there naturally arises a sense of "I am," a sense of identification with something that apparently exists intrinsically.
In other words, we are not merely ignorant of the nature of reality but actively, day by day and moment by moment, we are misconstruing the nature of reality. We see things as isolated and intrinsically existing. We reify our own existence and that of friends, loved ones, indifferent people, enemies, the environment itself. And here is the real crux of the matter: this reification is fundamentally out of accord with reality. It creates distortions in the mind and enhances the obscurations that shroud the Buddha nature. In practical terms, it is because of this grasping onto intrinsic reality that a false sense of self arises, as well as the myriad mental distortions that are invariably based on this reification. Jealousy, hatred, resentment, anger, craving, pride, conceit, fear, anxiety - all of these afflictions are based on a misconstruing of reality.
Such reification is the fundamental affliction of the mind; and the realization of emptiness cultivated thr

Excerpted from: The Seven-Point Mind Training(first published as A Passage from Solitude : Training the Mind in a Life Embracing the World), by B. Alan Wallace. Copyright 1992 by Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York 14851.

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