This week’s slogan is Rest in the Nature of Alaya, the Essence. Alaya is the fundamental unbiased nature of mind. According to Chogyam Trungpa, “[w]e are talking very simply about alaya as just a clear mind, a basic clear mind. It is simplicity and clarity and nondiscursive thought – very basic alaya. It may not be completely free from all consciousness, …but it is the alaya of basic potentiality…This instruction on resting in alaya is given to somebody who is at the very beginning level. A lot of us have problems, we have no idea whether we are sitting [correctly] or not sitting. We have struggles about that. So we are trying to work on our basic premises. It is a slowing-down process. For the first time we learn to slow down.
The more we see the unbiased nature of mind, the more we can access it. Last fall, we spent several weeks exploring various defilements. Over and over we saw how our judgments, preferences and wants/pleasures kept us stuck in this or that defilement. And when we are able to let go of these judgments, preferences, and wants/pleasures we free up the energy bringing greater ease, flexibility and choice. This slogan points to how important it is to practice getting to know this “letting go” capacity of mind. It’s not often talked about but for meditation to support us at the level that it can, we need to get outside of consciousness and rest in awareness. This means practicing just being aware of what is happening rather than being caught up in it. We rest in the awareness that we are hearing rather than the actual sounds showing up. We rest in the awareness that we are thinking rather than what we are thinking about. And we rest in the awareness of the existence of sensation regardless of the nature of the sensations. Every time we let go of being caught in the commentary of something to the simple awareness of its existence we are learning to access our capacity to shift and to rest in the unbiased nature of mind.
Ultimately we don’t stay in meditation. We use meditation to prepare us for how to be in the world off the cushion. As we take the time to see that we can shift from be caught in something to simply resting in the awareness of its existence, we are training our minds to make this same shift post-mediation. It is in post-mediation that we interact with the world. It’s in relationship with people that loving-kindness becomes so important. While loving-kindness may be a natural state of the unbiased mind, it is certainly not the natural state of the habitual mind. In fact, it is antagonistic to the habitual mind, which is obsessed with our individual judgments, preferences and wants/pleasures. The more we practice this shifting (or letting go) in mediation, the more we can shift from our sense of individualism to a sense of collectiveness post-meditation. But first we need to consider if we truly want to shift from a sense individualism to a sense of collectiveness. There are pros and cons to both. This week we will explore the value of individualism vs. collectiveness. See you Thursday…