Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Meditating on the Kleshas and the Stain of Thoughts

Let me start by providing a link I intend to quote extensively from in this seminar:


Let me also begin by stating that this is simply an out loud rambling meditation on the content of that seminar, and does not in any way represent anyone's thoughts other than my own.

My notes on the content:

The Four Noble Truths were presented in 3 stages:
1. The truth of the origin of suffering
2. The appropriate actions to neutralise suffering
3. The third one I will quote directly: "Third, he taught that if one knows suffering, there is nothing else that one needs to know; if one removes its origin, there is nothing else that one needs to remove; if one applies the practice, nothing else need be applied; and if one experiences cessation, there is nothing else to experience."

My thoughts:

So basically, we are dealing with Noble Truths 1 (life is full of suffering) and 2 (life is full of suffering because we want things) in stage 1. Stage 2 has to do with Noble Truths 3 (so stop wanting things) and 4 (deal with it). Stage 3 basically says, in my humble and possibly mistaken interpretation, if you fulfil stages 1 and 2 and accomplish the Four Noble Truths, you are done. Attained the Emptiness. Enlightened. Period.

The question, of course, is how?

My notes on the content:

The source of karma lies in the Six Kleshas, which I think is extremely well described by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. (My interpretation of his version of the kleshas is here. Note in particular that he also described the kleshas the one of the two kunjung, or sources of suffering. Basically, the model is that we suffer when we develop an emotional attachment to thought in one way or another. I really like his progressive model of it though.) I quote the seminar content wholesale again here:

1. hatred, or anger, which creates the experience of the hell realm;
2. greed, or miserliness, which creates the hungry ghost realm;
3. ignorance of how to act virtuously is the cause of rebirth in the animal realm;
4. attachment (virtuous action performed with attachment to the meritorious results) is the cause of human rebirth;
5. jealousy (virtuous action sullied by jealousy) causes rebirth in the demigod realm; and
6. pride, or egotism (virtuous action performed with pride) causes a godly rebirth.

The seminar goes on to describe a model as follows:

Kleshas/defilements => Unskillful actions => Karma => Suffering

Loving kindness + compassion = Diminished defilements/kleshas
Discriminating awareness (prajna) arising out of wisdom of emptiness = Complete uprooting of kleshas

My thoughts:

The "unskillful actions" bit in my simplified arrow model is interesting, because it implies something. Mainly, it seems to imply that if actions were uncoloured by the kleshas, then it is enlightened, or skillful action. So the "skillful means" so often discussed in Buddhism is really nothing more (or less) than methods which are untainted by the kleshas. This whole discussion is very important, because it answers the question of whether someone is enlightened or not. Basically, if you are subject to emotions still, stuck with kleshas still, then you are not fully enlightened, at least according to this model.

This angle is also incredibly important because it gives us a clue as to how to cease suffering. If the kleshas are the source of the issue, then it is a simple (if not easy) matter to dissolve them. And herein lies the problem. There are relative methods and absolute methods for dissolving the kleshas.

My notes on the content:
Solution: Loving kindness + compassion = Diminished defilements/kleshas
Discriminating awareness (prajna) arising out of wisdom of emptiness = Complete uprooting of kleshas

My thoughts:
There are other ways of relating to the kleshas. Since in a sense they form the very root of Buddhism, it is unsurprising that many approaches have developed. From the book "Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness" by Chogyam Trungpa, quote number 44 says: Train in the three difficulties. Paraphrasing, they are:

1. Understand how the kleshas trick you.
2. Dispel the emotionalism.
3. Cut the continuity of the emotionalism. (This is the source of the vow never to repeat it again. Incidentally, I used to think vowing might be too harsh a method, especially since it is a vow that is very difficult to keep. When walking in meditation at a retreat recently, it dawned on me that even the karmic effects of not keeping a vow help one to see the kleshas, for the enhanced "negative" (as perceived by the individuated mind) experiences push one back closer to truth. It is a method rooted more in relativity than the absolute, I'll grant, but there is definitely something about it.)

Looking at this, we can see that there is definite value in not being pushed around, or bullied, by the kleshas. If one can face them down with equanimity, then one has gone a long way towards being aware. So, one useful practice is to Notice. Noticing what emotions are doing, or are pushing you to do, is in my opinion getting to know the kleshas. You can't really dispel them if you aren't aware of them. It really doesn't matter what the justification for the klesha is - in fact one of the kleshas is related to holding stubbornly to a worldview. The kleshas, I think, basically attach to thoughts in order to survive.

Klesha = emotional push that becomes emotional bully if you let it
Emotional bully = evolves from the emotional push when it starts sticking to thought and congealing
Emotional despot = kleshas completely fused with thought harden the personality and the individual

So, when I developed a way of relating to fear for myself, I also found a way not to be pushed around by doubt and uncertainty. It certainly helped reduce my level of suffering, although I continue to think that examining the kleshas is a very worthwhile and important experience.

The notes say that compassion or loving kindness reduces the kleshas. There is relative and absolute bodhichitta. This is relative bodhichitta, I think. By practising compassion towards others and meditating on the suffering of others, our self diminishes, for we are meditating on how small our problems really are, compared to others less fortunate than us. This keeps the ego, which one could consider the emotional golem (definition of golem: blockhead. Think about it!), in check. But it still exists, and the golem is pretty sly - it survives in very sneaky ways. So, the only way to completely exit it is to observe the source of thought, the ultimate view - beyond thought. The emptiness. Again. Lovely how things go in a circle, isn't it? For if we can become aware and remain aware of the dreamlike nature of existence, then we are no longer fooled by the kleshas, and can do as we wish. We become free. The hot buttons disappear.

My notes on the content:
Loving kindness + prajna arises out of 5 paths:
1. The path of accumulation
Stage 1:
(a) Taking refuge
(b) Shinay - tranquillity meditation
(c) Listening to the teachings (the wisdom of hearing)
(d) Reflecting on them with the analytical mind (the wisdom of contemplation), which prepares the intellectual/conceptual mind for emptiness by making it fertile to the idea
Stage 2:
(a) Abandonment of negative actions
(b) Cultivation of virtuous actions to accumulate merit
Stage 3:
Development of four qualities relating to Dharma:
(a) aspiration/strong desire to practice
(b) diligence in practice
(c) recollecting/remembering one's practice
(d) developing meditative one-pointedness
2. The path of unification: Deepening of the first path.
3. The path of seeing: The first experience of emptiness. This is also the first bhumi - from this stage there is possibility of falling back.
4. The path of meditation: Stabilising the experience of emptiness in the path of seeing. This is the 2nd to the 10th bhumi. At the 10th bhumi all the subtle traces of the kleshas are purified.
5. The path of no learning: Complete purification. Enlightenment.

Notice that it is all very simple - it has to do with attaining emptiness, or seeing past the illusion of separation. Even when you see past the illusion (path of seeing), there is continued practice so that you learn to abide in the emptiness. You are no longer sitting as ego perceiving emptiness, but ultimately as emptiness perceiving thought. Yet you are totally unmoved by it because you have gone past the kleshas. Enlightenment, plain and simple. Om mani padme hum.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Advice for Carrying the View by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Advice for Carrying the View

by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete acceptance and openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes into oneself.

This produces a tremendous energy that is usually locked up in the process of mental evasion and a general running away from life experiences.

Clarity of awareness may, in its initial stages, be unpleasant or fear inspiring. If so, then one should open oneself completely to the pain or the fear and welcome it. In this way the barriers created by one’s own habitual emotional reactions and prejudices are broken down.

When performing the meditation practice one should develop the feeling of opening oneself completely to the whole universe with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind, ridding oneself of all protecting barriers. Don’t mentally split into two when meditating, one part of the mind watching the other like a cat watching a mouse.

One should realize that one does not meditate to go deeply into oneself and withdraw from the world. In buddhist yoga, even when meditating on chakras there is no introspection concentration. Complete openness of mind is the essential point.

The ground of samsara and nirvana is the alaya, the beginning and the end of confusion and realization, the nature of universal shunyata and of all apparent phenomena. It is even more fundamental than the trikaya and is free from bias toward enlightenment. It is sometimes called the “pure” or “original” mind.

Although prajna (wisdom) sees in it no basis for such concepts as different aspects, the fundamental aspects of complete openness, natural perfection, and absolute spontaneity are distinguished by upaya (skillful means) as useful devices.

All aspects of every phenomenon are completely clear and lucid. The whole universe is open and unobstructed, everything mutually interpenetrating. Seeing all things nakedly, clear and free from obscurations, there is nothing to attain or realize. The nature of things naturally appears and is naturally present in time-transcending awareness; this is complete openness.

Everything is perfect just as it is, completely pure and undefiled. All phenomena naturally appear in their uniquely correct modes and situations, forming ever-changing patterns full of meaning and significance, like participants in a great dance. Everything is a symbol, yet there is no difference between the symbol and the truth symbolized. With no effort of practice whatsoever, liberation, enlightenment, and buddhahood are already fully developed and perfected. This is natural perfection.

The everyday practice is just ordinary life itself. Since the underdeveloped state does not exist there is no need to behave in any special way or try to attain or practice anything. There should be no feeling of striving to reach some exalted goal or higher state; this simply produces something conditional or artificial that will act as an obstruction to the free flow of the mind. One should never think of oneself as “sinful” or worthless, but as naturally pure and perfect, lacking nothing.

When performing meditation practice one should think of it as just a natural function of everyday living, like eating or breathing, not as a special, formal event to be undertaken with great seriousness and solemnity. One must realize that to meditate is to pass beyond effort, beyond practice, beyond aims and goals, and beyond the dualism of bondage and liberation.

Meditation is always perfect, so there is no need to correct anything. Since everything that arises is simply the play of the mind, there are no “bad” meditation sessions and no need to judge thoughts as good or evil. Therefore, one should not sit down to meditate with various hopes or fears about the outcome; one just does it, with no selfconscious feeling of “I am meditating,” and without attempting to control or force the mind, and without trying to become peaceful.

If one finds that one is going astray in any of these ways, one should stop meditating and simply rest and relax for a while before resuming.

If, either during or after meditation, one has experiences that one interprets as results, they should not be made into anything special. Recognize that they are just phenomena and simply observe them. Above all, do not attempt to recreate them as this opposes the natural spontaneity of the mind. All phenomena are completely new and fresh and absolutely unique, entirely free from all concepts of past, present, and future—as if experienced in another dimension of time; this is absolute spontaneity.

The continual stream of new discovery and fresh revelation and inspiration that arises at every moment is the manifestation of the eternal youth of the living dharma and its wonders; splendor and spontaneity is the play or dance aspect of the universe as guru.

One should learn to see everyday life as a mandala in which one is at the center, and be free of the bias and prejudice of past conditioning, present desires, and hopes and expectations about the future.

The figures of the mandala are the day-to-day objects of one’s life experiences moving in the great dance of the play of the universe, the symbolism by which the guru reveals profound and ultimate meaning and significance. Therefore, be natural and spontaneous; accept and learn from everything.

See the comical, amusing side of initiating situations. In meditation, see through the illusion of past, present, and future. The past is but a present memory or condition, the future but a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.

One should put an end to conceptions about meditation and free oneself from memories of the past. Each moment of meditation is completely unique and full of potentiality of new discovery, so one is incapable of judging meditation by past experience or by theory.

Simply plunge straight into meditation at this very moment with your whole mind, and be free from hesitation, boredom, or excitement.

When meditating it is traditional and best, if possible, to sit cross-legged with the back erect but not rigid. However, it is most important to feel comfortable, so it is better to sit in a chair if sitting cross-legged is painful.

One’s mental attitude should be inspired by the three fundamental aspects, whether the meditation is with or without form, and it may often prove desirable, if not essential, to precede a period of formless meditation by a period of meditation with form.

To provide for this eventuality many classes of preliminary meditation practices have been developed over centuries of buddhist practice, the most important being meditations on breathing, mantra recitation, and visualization techniques.

To engage in the second and third of these classes, personal instruction from one’s guru is required, but a few words on the first would not be out of place here as the method used varies little from person to person.

First, let the mind follow the movement of the breath, in and out, until it becomes calm and tranquil. Then increasingly rest the mind on the breath until one’s whole being seems to be identified with it.

Finally, become aware of the breath leaving the body and going out into space, and gradually transfer the attention from the breath to the sensation of spaciousness and expansion. By letting this final sensation merge into complete openness, one moves into the sphere of formless meditation.

In all probability the above description of the three fundamental aspects will seem vague and inadequate. This is inevitable since they attempt to describe what is not only beyond words but beyond thought as well. They invite practice of what is, essentially, a state of being.

The words are simply a form of upaya, skillful means, a hint which, if acted upon, will enable one’s innate natural wisdom and naturally perfect action to arise spontaneously.

Sometimes in meditation one may experience a gap in one’s normal consciousness, a sudden and complete openness. This experience arises only when one has ceased to think in terms of meditation and the object of meditation. It is a glimpse of reality, a sudden flash that occurs infrequently at first, and then, with continued practice, more and more frequently. It may not be a particularly shattering or explosive experience at all, just a moment of great simplicity.

Do not make the mistake of deliberately trying to force these experiences to recur, for to do so is to betray the naturalness and spontaneity of reality.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The Conceit of Self

The conceit of self (mana in Pali) is said to be the last of the great obstacles to full awakening. Conceit is an ingenious creature, at times masquerading as humility, empathy, or virtue. Conceit manifests in the feelings of being better than, worse than, and equal to another. Within these three dimensions of conceit are held the whole tormented world of comparing, evaluating, and judging that afflicts our hearts. Jealousy, resentment, fear, and low self-esteem spring from this deeply embedded pattern. Conceit perpetuates the dualities of “self” and “other”—the schisms that are the root of the enormous alienation and suffering in our world. Our commitment to awakening asks us to honestly explore the ways in which conceit manifests in our lives and to find the way to its end.

Christina Feldman

Thursday 8th April 2010
Tricycle Daily Dharma

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

You Are Not Alone

Source: Andrew Bossi/Wikimedia

When I speak about inner practice, about facing one's fears and embracing them, about having the courage to look where the mind hides its darkest secrets, there is often a wise nodding that goes in the room. There is a resonance not with me, but with the bare truth that is being spoken. But there is also sometimes a feeling amongst my listeners that somehow, Kaye is different. (Well, weird different, maybe!) Somehow, he is special. Somehow, he can do it, but I can't. Or somehow, he must have forgotten how scary it feels to face one's fears full on. As you can see from the previous post on this blog, I have not. But sometimes, it pays to be reminded that many others have gone through the process. This is from a nationally renowned trainer in the USA, at my request, to share what it feels like to have recently gone through what seemed to be a trial by fire by life and its karmic effects. Sometimes, it pays to be reminded that as difficult and fearful as life seems, you are not alone, and it can be done.

Where I Stand

When you teach others to overcome obstacles and limiting beliefs as part of your career, what the heck do you do when your obstacles and limitations don't respond to the tools you already have? Or when the problem has aspects you can't even see?

I turned to someone whom I could trust to help me see what seemed invisible so I could address what seemed unknowable - Kaye Lee.

I've spent virtually my entire life entrenched in the masculine warrior metaphor - let's go after it (whatever it is) and take no prisoners. There's no problem that can't be solved by the application of more force, more strength, more willpower. Guess what? This time it didn't work. The harder I fought, the more force I tried to apply, the more I felt like a fly stuck in amber - A great metaphor for years of struggle and resentment with no clear idea how to break the cycle.

I just wanted to pull my head under the covers, hoping and praying for someone to swoop in and rescue me. That didn't work either.

What did work was facing the fear head on. This really felt like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon without a parachute, and having nothing to lose by stepping off the edge anyway. Being able to take that step from a place of complete surrender and openness, and gratitude for the way in which events made clear to me what was truly important in my life. What worked was release or surrender of the warrior paradigm and complete acceptance of the consequences, however dire they turned out to be. (Here I am talking about the power of surrender when previously I resented even saying the word, because it seemed like the antithesis of power, more like the complete abdication of power.)

I guess a shift of this magnitude was needed. Every thing else was like applying Band-aids to stop significant bleeding - ultimately ineffective.

The clarity and peace that come from acceptance and surrender is amazing. I feel more free, lighter and happier, more content, than I could have imagined.

You asked the three things I've learned:

* My Yang warrior stance still has a use in my day-to-day life. It's not the basis for my spiritual energy anymore. It is a role or tool now that comes from peace and power versus a reaction to protect myself, an attempt to keep myself safe. I didn't turn wimpy by embracing a willingness to surrender. Previously I had been unable to imagine moving through the world without the warrior to keep me safe.
* The metaphor of openness, not binary like a door either open or closed, but like a flower bud opening. The beauty and power of this metaphor allowed me, for the first time I'm aware of, to connect with the power and gracefulness of acceptance, of surrender.
* The supportive energies of the universe are always there, always here with me, not waiting in some celestial or energetic staging area for me to call them in.

My dear friend, thank you seems pale, but I can say thank you for the gift of such peace, and thank you for continuing to offer the gift until I was finally ready to receive.

And I, in turn, thank my dear friend and colleague for being so willing to share the experience so that others may draw inspiration from it.

The path is not clean and swept and tidy. The people who are beside you may not be well-dressed, or rich, or cultured. The journey is not always smooth. Winds will blow, candles will gutter. But if one can look past the fear, labels lose their power, for there is no more aversion, and when there is no more aversion, there is no more running. When there is no more running, there is peace. And the innate perfection reveals itself.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

What Masters Get Up To in Caves

Image source: Andre Engels/Wikimedia

So let's get into what masters get up to when they hole up in caves with no food or water for 20 days or more. And no, in case you were thinking to ask, this is NOT something I do. Nonetheless, Master Chunyi Lin had some interesting things to say (years after he got out of the cave by the way) about what the experience was.

"I finally know why masters could go into meditation so much - they were watching TV!"

No kidding. I heard him say that (well, not necessarily word for word - it's been awhile now) at a retreat. And like many others, I had absolutely no idea what he meant until I went through my own process. Having done so and watched also as other people experienced it has given me some kind of clue as to what happens.

The whole process begins by some kind of releasing process, externally or internally triggered. In my case, as my readers will know, circumstances forced me into a mental position where I had a choice of letting go of my own attachments or risk insanity. It is an interesting one - when you make the decision to demand nothing of life, because the very thought of demanding it summons up a sense of desperation so paranoid that you feel extreme pain. This is by far the most dramatic way to discover truth, and I do like the drama, even if I had no clue what was happening at that point.

So I gave up everything, even thinking itself. It was a forced surrender. Every thought brought me pain, so I started ignoring the thoughts. That's when things began getting remarkably exciting. Only the pain remained. With nothing further to lose, I plunged into the pain. It was partially an act of desperation, a last act of defiance that screamed, "Go on then, do your worst!" And it stopped hurting. Not immediately, but it became somewhat more bearable. I no longer had to fight the throbbing headache, the deep fear or the intense cracks in my self confidence. By degrees, over a course of maybe a month, the pain began to disappear. Like fog disappearing in the morning light, it could not withstand conscious awareness upon it when conscious awareness did not impose conditions. And so I understood the nature of thoughts' ability to manipulate - they do it through fear. When fear is no longer a goad one instinctively shirks from, thoughts lose their power and begin to evaporate.

So back to watching telly. I did not digress above, but rather gave a context in which this process happens. As I sat in meditation as I had never sat before, I surrendered everything. It was the most painless thing I had ever done. And when you're in such pain, every little bit helps! And then the thought-ego body (what Eckhart Tolle would call a pain body, one supposes) tried a last ditch attempt to retain the illusion. It started dredging up images. Things I had never seen before, things long forgotten from my youth, loves and hates, fears, random imagery - they all floated by. And this is where I was blessed by weariness. Beleaguered as I was, the monkey mind was finally too tired to chase after each image to analyse them, as I would have in the past. And they flittered right by. Sitting in that perspective of weary hopelessness (and this is why I say hopelessness is rather useful for enlightenment), it became a television show.

Bit by bit, I discovered a way to interact with them without being burned, and this was through service. By praying for others in the depths of my pain, I managed to maintain a neutral stance. And unlike any healing process I was familiar with, the images began to shape themselves. All I did was hold an intention and surrender completely. Images that started out apparently as illusion began to develop into surprising meanings, and I understood them. Practically all the praying I did in those days of trial worked, incidentally - the people benefitted very quickly. And all the intuition worked as well. And thus I understood why so much intuition fails as well - the messages are mixed, like two people shouting over each other. One would be true intuition, and the other would be the pain body. How to recognise truth? It's simple - the images untainted by fear or even attraction. Those are the truth. The truth has no need to compel - it simply is. And by their fruits ye shall know them, I believe Jesus the Christ said. And the whole thing is much like watching television, as Master Lin said all those years ago. I can finally agree.

But he said more!

"When you find in your qigong practice that you enter emptiness, leave your practice and simply sit. The healing will go on instantaneously."

This is a statement I also struggled with for a long while. How can emptiness be trusted to do anything, without supervision? The brainwave management crowd will have the same issue - how can sitting in alpha, theta or delta without doing anything be beneficial for anything other than perhaps rest? How can that solve our problems?

It is an incredibly arrogant position, if you think about it, to assume that the ego knows better than emptiness, or the sea of awareness, from which the ego itself arose. The emptiness is the basic space, the basic canvas upon which everything is painted. To return to the emptiness is to dive beneath the surface of the overpainted fabric of our lives and to get in touch with basic awareness. And it heals. Once left alone, the structures of our thoughts disintegrate - the same process that I described above. However, this becomes painless, for we are enjoying the nature of emptiness.

""Om Mani Padme Hum" means "Go into the emptiness and seek your authentic Self. And from your true Self, everything else will be attained."

Again, Master Lin's words, not mine. But I agree completely. Wish I had said it. But I doubt even Master Lin could claim credit for that one. After all, were we not told to "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all other things shalt be added on to ye"?

So let's address the difficult issue - how is emptiness to be trusted with what is right? After all, it is constantly throwing up streams of thoughts spontaneously, and all we need do is look around to see that certain outcomes are not, to the ego Self at least, desirable. In the eyes of the Divine they are all perfect, of course. Well, there are a couple of effects there:

1. Firstly, as we transcend thought and conditions, we also transcend need and preference. Whatever happens cannot harm us now, for fear loses its manipulative ability, and thus emptiness can be trusted to do exactly what it does, and the outcome makes no difference.

2. Secondly, the closer one gets to pure awareness, the closer one gets to the true attributes of the soul. One no longer needs the attention of another to feel loved. Money no longer is needed to feel abundance. The conditional emotions are dropped in favour of unconditional ones. These are the First Emotions, the First Order. They are the samboghakaya, the Light that arises out of the sea of awareness. And they are nothing but benevolent. If we rest in them, they can summon nothing but the highest manifestations. Why, then, do we get ourselves into so much trouble? It is only when we get involved in the derivatives of these emotions, the Second Order, the Conditional Emotions, that chaos ensues. Each intention becomes tainted by fear and suspicion, and thought streams become tainted. The purification process, then, is the same - it is to sit in sheer unconditioned awareness, to rest and to recuperate. Then, when we are ready, we surrender our awareness fully to pure emptiness and live in the bliss of the First Order emotions (interesting how that abbreviates to FOEs - which is what our mind perceives them to be, not the salvation that they are).

So nature becomes truly benevolent. And with no effort at all! Fundamental nature is benevolent. Sitting in it, we cannot help but be benevolent and compassionate.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Getting Accustomed to Peace

For all that we claim to be searching for peace of mind, we have a remarkably difficult time getting comfortable with it. Highly evolved beings through the ages have pointed the way, and yet we continue to struggle with the idea of true peace. A lot of this has to do with the problem is that the mind is so unaccustomed to not having to struggle and run on to the next discovery that it very often, upon stumbling onto a brief moment of peace, simply blunders right on its merry way.

So what is this peace? The Dao De Jing suggests that "the Tao that can be described is not the Tao". Many other sources suggest this element of being beyond description and conception. How can we hope to understand that which is beyond concept? I recall struggling myself with this concept when I was younger. It is a terrifying idea, that mind is no longer needed, and one which it will struggle mightily against. The usual tactics of distraction, manipulation, control and denial will usually ensure quite effectively that we do not stumble upon the truth.

So what is this truth?

Simply this - we are more than our thoughts. Look inside your mind right now, and notice what is there. Where did that thought come from? Where did it go? This is what the masters have asked over the centuries. There seems to be this black hole. But in the moment of asking, if you paid attention, there is a gap, a moment of no-thought. No thought does not mean unconsciousness. We enter this state by accident, sometimes, when driving or doing some kind of repetitive task. Or perhaps when we are lost in art, or rapture. It is a moment of pure awareness, beyond thought.

Well, perhaps it is unfair to say "beyond thought". It is more correct to say "more fundamental than thought". For if we can exist in the space between one thought and the next, and can even be aware, then we are more than our thoughts. The space is the basic fabric of being - it is the sea of awareness. And as we direct our CONSCIOUS awareness towards this, we naturally become more aware of it. Yet, it will defy any attempt to quantify or qualify it. This is what frustrates the mind so. And that is why it fails to see anything special in this event.

But wait! Most of humanity has stumbled upon this gem of existence at one point or another. 99.9% will promptly arise, dust themselves off and go on their way. The remainder will do a variety of things. Many of these will attempt to manipulate this space in some way, for they will correctly deduce that this is somehow the doorway to the soul. Precious few will actually be willing to sit in this space and watch what arises. And for those who do, able to remain awake long enough not to be torn away by newly arisen thoughts, a feeling of peace and well-being will arise. And this will be peace. It will not feel like it necessarily, for the mind will really have no reference for it. But this will be the arising point of the soul. And if we want to get a chance at getting to know lasting peace, we would do well to stay in this sensation long enough to get acquainted.