Author Topic: Letting go of the practice?  (Read 5423 times)

Lokuttara

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Letting go of the practice?
« on: February 12, 2012, 03:57:50 PM »
A friend shared this interesting interview with Eckhart Tolle recently, and it touches on Vipassana a little:

DC: How do you think about practices that "cultivate" presence?

ET: Well, at a certain stage practice may be helpful, but I don't teach practices. The power of presence doesn't really need it. Presence is teaching, stillness is teaching, so it would be unnecessary to have a practice. Of course, there may be certain people who haven't yet had an opening to presence and are not drawn to it; so for them practice may be initially helpful—until it becomes a hindrance. Every practice at some point will become a hindrance. No practice can ever take you there, to freedom, to liberation. That's important to realize. Every practice will have to be relinquished at some point; it's a question of knowing when that point has been reached. Some people get attached to their practice. They get good at it, but even becoming a good meditator can become a hindrance.

DC: How so?

ET: In a very subtle way, ego comes in. I sometimes see it when I look at meditator who have a lot of strong "doing" going on. It might be the sense "I'm going to get there" or "I'm there already, because I'm the best meditator." The ego is just waiting to identify with anything. Whether it's your misery or being a great meditator, it seeks some identification. Teaching a practice can also be a hindrance if it becomes one's identity. To be a spiritual teacher is a temporary function. I'm a spiritual teacher when somebody comes to me and some teaching happens, but the moment they leave I'm no longer a spiritual teacher. If I carry the identity of spiritual teacher, it will cause suffering. Another hindrance of practice is that it usually has steps, which require time to go through or time to become good at. Because it takes time, a practice can't really take you there. Only when time is removed—either it collapses or is removed through the power of a teaching—do you realized that you are already "there."

DC: What about Buddhist meditation practices?

ET: There are some Buddhist practices that are very simple, such as Zen, where you're just sitting and watching. It's perhaps no practice, and that's the best kind. Sometimes people ask me about vipassana saying, "Oh, when you talk about feeling the inner body, that reminds me of vipassana." Of course, it is the same principle—that is, inhabiting the body. So vipassana is fine until it becomes a technique that has many stages and that takes time to develop. That can be okay for people for a while, but then you have to leave the technique behind. if anybody reading this interview feels a reaction at this moment, that might be a sign that there's an ego identification with their practice, and it's time to let go. [Laughter]
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 04:02:34 PM by Lokuttara »
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

Lokuttara

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Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2012, 04:00:35 PM »
Here is a link to the full article, it's quite an interesting read:
 http://www.meditationblog.com/2007/03/01/eckhart-tolle-interview/

Sums up a lot of things I was feeling about practice in the last year or so.
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

Andrew

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Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2012, 11:51:59 PM »
 Definitely agree that 'practice' is a poor substitute for actually doing it! If we find ourselves looking forward or backward to some moment that we were 'practising' then we are missing the point. Let it go, and keep going. When laying down; remember to notice, when walking;remember to notice, when  sitting; remember to notice.

I think after a while of sitting practice and all the challenges of actually doing it, and all the mind gymnastics working out what it is all about, there comes a point where life isn't so bad, at least not in the same way it used to be. At that point we naturally, being more alert, look around and smell the roses. Then we see, 'ah, this is what it was all about anyway, this is as good as it gets, for now'. The striving of practice doesn't make sense, not in the way it once did, and you find it coming through naturally. It doesn't feel right though not to be striving, so the thought, 'I must practice more' comes up, except you are already doing it! so sure let go of practice, and just do it, all the time.

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Vivek

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Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 11:07:16 AM »
Great article, Lokuttara. Every now and then, you surface and bring some good stuff with you! ;)

I think, stages in Vipassana practice, like the Vipassana jhanas etc were not introduced by the Buddha. They came after him. I don't think Buddha ever said to analyze and find out where we are in our practice, what stage we are presently etc. The instruction is specifically to watch, observe and accept whatever presents itself in the moment, within the frame-work of the body, no matter how long you have been sitting. But, I think Tolle's remarks about Vipassana practice in its current sense, is apt to a certain point. For example, When I visit other forums dedicated to practice, all I can see there are discussions about who reached what stage and what they did to go to the next stage and what they need to do if they are stuck in one stage etc etc. Honestly, all that is a bunch of non-sense. I think there is a widespread trend to confine Vipassana within such conceptual frameworks like stages. But, the very thinking in terms of stages in progress, gives a great deal for the ego to identify with.

All that needs to be understood is there in the Satipatthana Sutta. Let's keep it simple, then we are far less likely to get lost.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Lokuttara

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Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 09:54:53 AM »
I think, stages in Vipassana practice, like the Vipassana jhanas etc were not introduced by the Buddha. They came after him. I don't think Buddha ever said to analyze and find out where we are in our practice, what stage we are presently etc. The instruction is specifically to watch, observe and accept whatever presents itself in the moment, within the frame-work of the body, no matter how long you have been sitting. But, I think Tolle's remarks about Vipassana practice in its current sense, is apt to a certain point. For example, When I visit other forums dedicated to practice, all I can see there are discussions about who reached what stage and what they did to go to the next stage and what they need to do if they are stuck in one stage etc etc. Honestly, all that is a bunch of non-sense. I think there is a widespread trend to confine Vipassana within such conceptual frameworks like stages. But, the very thinking in terms of stages in progress, gives a great deal for the ego to identify with.

All that needs to be understood is there in the Satipatthana Sutta. Let's keep it simple, then we are far less likely to get lost.

Totally agree with you Vivek! The Satipatthana is the core of Buddha's teaching and is very useful. Moment to moment awareness, letting go and understanding of anicca, anatta are all we need. That's why I think it's good sometimes to have our methods and techniques of "practice" challenged by teachers like Tolle and Krishnamurti. Like Tolle says in the interview - we often feel a little reaction from within as soon as somebody questions our structured and disciplined practice. Of course this is an instant sign that we have already become attached to our idea of meditation, to our identity as a meditator. So we need to have a little check in with ourselves to find out how this could have happened :) Perhaps we have built up some sort of structure in our minds to which the ego has attached itself. When the meditator disappears, then serious meditation can take place.

Definitely agree that 'practice' is a poor substitute for actually doing it! If we find ourselves looking forward or backward to some moment that we were 'practising' then we are missing the point. Let it go, and keep going. When laying down; remember to notice, when walking;remember to notice, when  sitting; remember to notice.

I think after a while of sitting practice and all the challenges of actually doing it, and all the mind gymnastics working out what it is all about, there comes a point where life isn't so bad, at least not in the same way it used to be. At that point we naturally, being more alert, look around and smell the roses. Then we see, 'ah, this is what it was all about anyway, this is as good as it gets, for now'. The striving of practice doesn't make sense, not in the way it once did, and you find it coming through naturally. It doesn't feel right though not to be striving, so the thought, 'I must practice more' comes up, except you are already doing it! so sure let go of practice, and just do it, all the time.

Precisely. Doing it all the time is the trick. Cycling to work, sometimes I'm in my head. But sometimes I notice the shapes of trees in the fields, the smells, the birds singing in the trees, the smells, and that silhouette of a cow on a hill. Just noticing, and then going within and noticing the body movements, the wind on the face, the changes in breathing, the sweat and of course the thoughts that come up :)
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2012, 02:20:31 PM »
Cycling to work, sometimes I'm in my head. But sometimes I notice the shapes of trees in the fields, the smells, the birds singing in the trees, the smells, and that silhouette of a cow on a hill. Just noticing, and then going within and noticing the body movements, the wind on the face, the changes in breathing, the sweat and of course the thoughts that come up :)

I'm enjoying so much reading little accounts like this.
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Matthew

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Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2012, 02:21:55 PM »

I'm enjoying so much reading little accounts like this.

Yes, quite beautiful.

And as I have said many times "practice is called practice for a good reason": It's the real thing that counts. Practice gives us a taste. Then we have to take that taste and make it flavour the reality we live in 24/7.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2012, 02:28:48 PM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Lokuttara

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Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2012, 10:05:29 AM »
Here is a nice little account by Krishnamurti:

"It was quite a nice garden with many flowers but the trees dominated the garden; they were shapely, wide-spreading and at certain seasons, full of flowers; now only one tree was flowering, orange-red flowers with large petals, a profusion of them. There were several trees with fine, small delicate leaves, mimosa-like trees but with greater abundance of foliage. So many birds came and now after two long heavy showers they looked bedraggled, soaked to the skin, their feathers drenched. There was a yellow bird with black wings, larger than a starling, nearly as big as a blackbird; the yellow was so bright against the dark-green foliage and its bright elongated eyes were watching everything, the slightest movement among the leaves and the coming and going of other birds. There were two black birds, smaller than crows, their feathers soaked, sitting close to the yellow one on the same tree; they had spread out their tail feathers and were fluttering their wings to get them dry; several other birds of different sizes came to that tree, all at peace with each other, all alertly watching.

The valley needed the rain very badly and every drop was welcome; the wells were very low and the big urban tanks were empty and these rains would help to fill them. They had been empty for many years and there was hope now. The valley had become very beautiful, rainwashed, fresh, filled with varying rich green. The rocks had been washed clean and had lost their heat and the stunted bushes that grew among the rocks in the hills looked pleased and the dry river beds were singing again. The land was smiling again.  "
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

rob

Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2012, 06:34:24 PM »
Precisely. Doing it all the time is the trick. Cycling to work, sometimes I'm in my head. But sometimes I notice the shapes of trees in the fields, the smells, the birds singing in the trees, the smells, and that silhouette of a cow on a hill. Just noticing, and then going within and noticing the body movements, the wind on the face, the changes in breathing, the sweat and of course the thoughts that come up :)

It's a good thing I moved out of NJ before starting my practice :)

"Sometimes I notice the shape of highways and... um... damn, I guess that's it."

Andrew

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    • friends tell me things, sometimes I listen.
    • Letting Go.
Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2012, 01:00:31 AM »
haha  :D
getting it done

Matthew

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    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Letting go of the practice?
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2012, 03:05:12 PM »
rob,

You hit on a point that is often underestimated. The monotony of urban sprawl does not help one to perceive the beauty of life. Since getting my allotment garden last year my meditation practice feels like it's getting back on track - something about being in a natural environment that opens my heart and mind.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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