May 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
It may be said that all of Buddhist practice is directed to separating awareness from the objects of awareness.
In “Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines,” Evan-Wentz writes that some Tibetan meditation instructions involves first attempting to stop all thought then, seeing that it can’t be done, just observing them as they rise and fall.
In Soto Zen, instructions are directed to Shikantaza, or just sitting, wherein one sets everything aside, thinking neither of good nor evil, right or wrong, this or that. As the sitting progresses even the idea of becoming a Buddha is given up and the act of sitting is seen to be, in itself, the actualization of Buddha Nature or Being. This is carried forward into all daily actions through the practice of mindfulness described as the calm awareness of one’s body, feelings, mind, and dharmas (objects).
In Rinzai Zen, koans are given wherein one becomes so absorbed that all else falls away. Eventually, even the koan is dropped as one attains satori.
In his book, “Vivid Awareness”, Khenchen Thrangu comments on the Dzogchen/Mahamudra Master Khenpo Gangshar’s teachings on “Naturally Liberating Whatever You Meet”. He states that we must learn to distinguish awareness from mind, where mind is defined as becoming involved in thought (which includes emotions). As one makes progress in detaching awareness from mind whatever you meet is let go, or naturally liberated, to arise and fall without the meditator feeling either attached or repelled.
These practices are essentially the same in that underlying them is a simple process of turning attention away from objects and back to the subject. Or, to put it plainly, away from thought and back to awareness, so that only awareness remains.
Everyday we get out of bed and immediately find ourselves wrapped up in thought and emotions that flood in and define who and what we are. Like dogs on a leash we are tethered to thought. In meditation, however, we are directed to break this habit of thought involvement; to simply be aware.
For the mind troubled by the likes of OCD, PTSD or depression simply being aware while letting thoughts arise and fall without following them is no easy task. For those not so afflicted it is no less difficult to see the underlying unreality of thought, that “form is emptiness”. This is not a nihilistic emptiness that leaves us without meaning, purpose or value but an emptiness that is clear awareness.
To be aware but not of any thought or thing but only of awareness itself is to realize one’s true nature as awareness without contamination or pure awareness, pure consciousness.