Thursday, August 9, 2018

Practice and Freedom

From the writing conference I was attending this week:
Today was a final reading in a chapel, and I was very surprised, and not, that from 20 reading participants about 5-6 had a Buddhist theme, either they described their experiences with meditation, or with particular teacher, or maybe they mentioned words "equanimity", "dharma", or "namaste". All of the pieces that were read was full of reverence to the practice and teachers, which is beautiful sentiment, but it also had this aftertaste of the practice became a habit, a familiar place, something that one knows well and it gives them feeling of achievement.

As much as it is very good place to be, it is where I noticed one can be stuck, and I am sorry if I am too bold with this claim, but the sweet feeling of familiarity and some sort of the same action we do, we like to do, we used to doing for years, perhaps is on the way of remembering why in a first place we started this practice.

We wanted freedom, freedom from suffering, this is what Buddhist teachings offer as a reward for practice. But somewhere along the years of practice we settled on this relative peace of mind that inevitably comes with a lot of meditation. Still, we identify with the seeker, the meditator, the Buddhist, and if something suddenly happens outside the practice, especially if it is uncomfortable, we feel suffering. We still this human who is suffering, doesn't matter how long we have been sitting on a cushion. And we still go and practice sitting even more diligently, we sort of trying to go somewhere with it, to change mind state through the practice.

Here is the catch. Yes, mind state will change if we sit for sometime, the body will arrive to stillness, the thoughts will settle, the mind will come to a calm disposition. But what it has to do with freedom? So every time something happens you are in need to sit down and meditate, as you would take a Tylenol for the headache? Freedom doesn't have conditions: sitting, standing, waking, sleeping, upside down, or sideways! Freedom is a freedom from limitation what one does, what mind state one is, are there thoughts, less thoughts, or no thoughts - this does not have anything to do with freedom and liberation from suffering. These phenomenas are all impermanent and they all are subject to change.

To find freedom one needs to find who they are other then temporary mind states. And when this happens one naturally release the rigorous practice, and if one continues, it is because they love this activity, like a great painter who achieve already all the awards and loves to paint without an aim, meditator loves to sit in silence without a goal. And some of us drop the practice completely, because we move, and live, and love as it is a meditation. I loved one lady's story about her old Theravada teacher who now mostly sit at home, eat, and watches Bollywood movies!