"Don't just do something, sit there."   (view our quote database)

Meditating by "Being With"

For almost as long as I've been meditating, I've thought of meditation as something you do. You go "meditate" and I defined the act of "meditating" as a set of behavior that, for whatever constellation of reasons, always contained the need to supress thoughts and the need to "focus" on the breath.

Then a few days ago, as I was sitting down, the thought that my goal was to just be with whatever was occuring at the time came up. This idea, which I'm sure I'd heard many times in the past, really stuck this time, and completely changed the character of my practice.

For days (if not months) I'd been riding a wave of thought and supression, thought and supression. As my time increased, that tumult would sometimes be followed by a "dead" period where in the absense of thoughts arising I would just be sitting there wishing that time would move faster.

When I thought of the pracitce as being with, I instead got the very real sense of it being fine that thoughts were arising. Of it being fine that nothing was arising. Of it being OK to feel and think whatever I was thinking and feeling. My only duty was to be there with those things coming and stay aware of them, and it made a huge difference.

Posted: 5 years ago

Tagged: mindfulness, presence, technique, meditation technique

Comment on this entry

Really interesting post. I think it's definitely true that words don't mean much until we connect with the meaning behind them--which we can't really do on purpose. It just sort of happens.

Having said that, the post reminded me of this passage from The Path is the Goal:

According to the Buddha’s philosophy, there is no verb “to meditate.” There is just a noun, “meditation.” There’s no meditating. You don’t meditate, but you be in a state of meditation. You might find it very hard to swallow this distinction. We have a linguistic, a grammatical problem here. Meditating is not part of the Buddhist vocabulary, but meditation is.

“Meditation” is a noun that denotes that you are being in a state of meditation already. Whereas “meditating” gives the idea of an activity that’s taking place all the time, that you’re meditating on this or that, concentrating on flickering candlelight, watching an incense stick burning, listening to your pulse, your heartbeat, listening to the inner tunes of your mantric utterance going on in your head—whatever. But according to the buddhadharma, meditation is a simple factor. You don’t meditate, you just be in the meditation. Dhyana is a noun rather than a verb. It refers to being in a state of dhyana, rather than “dhyana-ing.” Meditation in this case has no object, no purpose, no reference point. It is simply individuals willing to take a discipline on themselves, not to please God or the Buddha or their teacher or themselves. Rather one just sits, one holds oneself together. One sits a certain length of time. One just simply sits without aim, object, purpose, without anything at all. Nothing whatsoever. One just sits.
I've never been sure I understood this passage, but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

fredclaymeyer5 years agoReply to this comment