HABITUATION AND KARMIC MOMENTUM
And then mind. I talked about activities and speech and
I’m just giving very few examples but also mind. If all else fails and we’re sitting in meditation and
we’re going to sit for a long, long time like, anywhere from three hours to the whole day or maybe we’re doing
a week long sitting, or something like this, extended. You go through stages and layers and layers of trying to entertain
yourself away from just being there. And it’s all at the level of your mind.
You talk about your physical ailments and
you plan and you worry and you obsess and it goes on and on and on, entertaining yourself with your mind.
ourselves with anger, with fear, with grief All kinds of thoughts are better than nothing is our motto. The bodhichitta
practices, and actually all meditation practices, are about learning to stay still and going through what I always refer to
as the detox period of finally connecting. Sometimes it feels like stillness and peace, but if that happens it will also
alternate with this restlessness and this unease.
As someone who spends a lot of time in retreat and around a lot of people
who spend a lot of time in retreat, I can say everybody gets into this. It often really hooks you, your fear of this and your
wishing to go away, and you’re in retreat and there is no entertainment there are no phones, no computers,
there’s no television you’re not talking to anyone, you’re alone in your cabin, and you wish you
weren’t. And where’s all that beauty in nature? You really enjoyed it for one day, maybe even a week, but after a
while, it begins to feel like a sensory deprivation chamber, and it’s very, very unnerving.
So the practice is learning
to relax into the space of nothing happening. In our lives, this is a big motivation. And shenpa springs, definitely, from
this karmic wind which we keep... See, you can begin to unwind that karmic wind, but it’s extremely strong. And I use
the term unwind, but what I mean is our habitual way of relating, which is moving away with our actions and our speech and
our mind, just makes that uneasiness stronger and stronger and stronger.
This underlying sense of threat when nothing is
happening gets stronger and stronger, and we fear it more and more and more. The bodhichitta practices, and actually all
practices, are about learning to stay with nothing happening, just with a sense of silence, of space, and definitely with
uneasiness, with anxiety, and so forth. And we find our way to do so without it being overwhelming.
Then something can begin
to shift which Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as cool boredom. The very same nothing happening feels like home-free, feels
like freedom, feels like deep, profound, unshakable relaxation, feels like spaciousness space in our mind, space to sense
of workability of our lives.
But we have habituated ourselves to always move away from that nothing happening, and therefore
this fear-based karmic momentum which is always driving you to do something to move, to act always in the next moment,
never present is very, very strong. We’re really talking about cutting suffering at the root. And the root is that you
learn to stay present. And in doing so, you’re going to have to contact the unpleasantness, the short-term
unpleasantness, of uneasiness, restlessness, feeling of uneasiness, shakiness. Trungpa Rinpoche used the phrase the genuine
heart of sadness.
Learning to stay with the tenderness of that moment. When you feel the hardness of fear, or hardness of
anger, or hardness of aversion, realize that that is a place which is a hard covering over the tenderness or the warmth of
the bodhichitta, of the bodhi heart. So it’s there in the hardest of places, it’s always there. Learning to stay
present that’s what I said at the end of the talk last week it’s like being willing to endure the short term
pain of an injection in order to be free of the disease altogether. Definitely, we have to go through something.
of it differently, think of it as resting with bodhichitta, or shaky tenderness was another way Trungpa Rinpoche referred to
it it’s a shaky, tender place. He gave it a name which had a kind of heart quality to it, instead of calling it
anxiety or fear, he called it shaky tenderness. You see? It helps actually to rephrase these things in your mind in a
positive slant on something that doesn’t feel all that good. So, here [in verse twenty-five] we have the phrase that we
do not wish our own true good, which is to say we’re stuck in habituation.
We think happiness is going to come from
always leaving that place, that tender, shaky place that we call boredom or fear or anxiety, or whatever we call it, and
filling up the space with entertainment, with fun, with movement, with action. And maybe it’s not even fun, but at
least at least it fills up the space with worrying, with churning ourselves up, working ourselves up with anger, and so
If we work with our shenpa, we are working with cutting the momentum of this habituation, which is to say, cutting the
momentum of karma, cutting the momentum of samsara to use the Buddhist terms.
Verse twenty-six says more about this.
it’s interesting that in verse twenty-five, the bodhichitta is called the state of mind; and in verse twenty-six
it’s called an attitude a jewel of mind. This is really important. We’re talking about training our minds. And
in Buddhism, the mind and heart are one thing. Training the mind, training the heart to connect with openness and
spaciousness with warmth and love and compassion by doing exercises, like bodhichitta practices such as we did at the
beginning of the class, learning to stay present with that shaky tenderness and connect with the bodhichitta. Do you see?
Learning to stay present.
It’s highly praised here and says that you can’t really ever express that something
which is such a fresh alternative to how we usually do it. This is what we’re talking about: bodhichitta is a fresh
alternative. It’s like a fresh take, a fresh state of mind from the habituated, stale, always do it the same way take
and conditioned reflex action knee jerk action. Always looking for any way to fill up the space, move away from nothing
The basic instruction, in terms of cutting this habituation, or dissolving it, or interrupting I like to use the
word interrupting the habituation is to notice the shenpa, notice when you’re hooked; then through meditation
practice, or whatever helps, to interrupt the momentum so that you don’t go on and on and on creating your own
suffering; and then touch the soft spot that’s available to you when you interrupt the momentum of the shenpa.
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