The opening paragraph in a much loved text Faith in Mind by the Third Zen Patriarch, Seng T’Sang, are very affirming and have direct implications for our practice.
The Supreme Way is not difficult
it simply avoids picking and choosing.
When love and hate are both absent,
everything becomes clear and undisguised,
Make the smallest distinction however
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
If we have faith in these encouraging words, we can sustain an attitude in meditation of not picking and choosing to whatever is arising moment to moment. When we practice dropping any preference and attachment to any duality, we and the great Way is not difficult, it is always right here, over glowing and abundant.
In the second Noble Truth, the arising of any suffering, unease, dissatisfaction called dukkha (in the Ancient Pali language) is due to the movement of mind of grasping and aversion. We can notice our tendency to push away the unpleasant and painful, and cling and attach to the attractive and pleasant. This typical push and pull of the mind creates agitation and suffering. Dukkha requires clinging and where there is clinging, we must be clinging to one polarity, that is, desiring one pair of the duality over its opposite. For example, silence and noise is a pair of opposites.
There is a wonderful and challenging practice opportunity every evening when we sit at our Annandale dojo which is situated right under the flight path. It’s peak hour for the East/West runway. Sandwiched between a blanket of clouds and the red tiled rooftops the planes drone overhead every 5 minutess. The windows rattle in unison as the noisy tin bullets of aircraft line up and pelt down towards the airport. If you sit longing for that poised silence and if there is a degree of contraction in the mind around noises, then the dukkha of irritability will soon follow. Can you let the sound of the plane go right through you with nothing sticking…. no preference?
We live in the midst of a constant stream of polarities in the world of phenomena; light/dark, self/other, here/there, security/insecurity, fear/calm, joy/sorrow, pleasure/pain, praise/blame. In any of these examples, the more we cling to one pole the more we are thrown back into the world of duality and hence suffering.
Practice ‘No clinging to preferences’.
If we wish to embody the great way of freedom, the non- dual wisdom mind,
- sit in an open spacious awareness with things as they are,
- notice where you are experiencing suffering and inquire into ‘where am I clinging now?’
- Try and identify what pole of duality you have seized upon,
- can you drop any preference for one pole of that duality over another?
- can you come back to a view of ‘no attachment to preferences’; no picking and choosing.
- practice the art of letting go or holy disinterest, also called the virtue of disenchantment. If you practise in this way you will experience the great Way of ease and joy. “To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind”. (Seng T’sang)
‘Encouraging Words from the Teacher’ was published in the April/May 2017 Newsletter