At first capturing and then becoming one with the universal flow of nature and energy as expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his famous quote that urged on the transformation to transcendental thought.
“That law of nature whereby everything climbs to higher platforms, and bodily vigor becomes mental and moral vigor. The bread he eats is first strength and animal spirits; it becomes, in higher laboratories, imagery and thought, and in still higher results, courage and endurance. This is the right compound interest; this is capital doubled, quadrupled, centupled; man raised to his highest power. The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane; to invest and invest, with keener avarice, that he may spend in spiritual creation and not in augmenting animal existence.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life
One of the interesting similarities and differences between Emerson, Zen and Advaita Vedanta is how we look at mindfulness. While mindfulness, a Zen practice, is seen as simply the practice to witness our thoughts, feelings & emotions during life situations, this can be limited based on the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. It’s like seeing different sides to the same coin with the destinations now the same. In zen enlightenment it’s about coming to see reality just as it is, with perfect clarity. For myself, that clarity comes with a sense of flowing with what the outcome will be.
Advaita Vedanta, literally, “non-duality” is a school of Hindu philosophy and “spiritual experience.” The term Advaita refers to the idea that Brahman alone, pure consciousness, is ultimately real, the phenomenal transient world is an illusory appearance (maya) of Brahman, and the true self, atman, which is self-luminous pure awareness, is identical with Brahman. In this view, our individual self, is a mere reflection of singular Atman in a multitude of apparent individual bodies.
And in Advaita Vedanta it’s about knowing who you are in the absolute sense, self-realization or knowing yourself as the supreme identity. The reason that self-realization and zen enlightenment are one is because the very moment you know who you are, is the exact moment you see reality just as it is with perfect clarity… as non-duality. With consciousness, or the way the human mind is constructed, you will see that it’s made up of grasping, analyzing, interpreting, and doing. How to move past this to assurances of the outcome moves us to thoughts of being “beyond the beyond”. To places we cannot see or intrinsically know.
Not making waves as we enter the universal flow of things content to simply add to the waves already present. To be content in/or as the flow we are creating. Satisfied in a world with no contention present. To simply “do by being”. Looking to mindfulness, our mind will naturally wonder as we ask, “What can I get from enlightenment or self-realization?” If you look throughout history a common mind-set has been the law of cause and effect. If I just ‘do’ mindfulness enough, I will receive on the other end. This self-actualizing paradigm of analyzing how life will look if I just do A B C long enough. Of course, it’s not that simple.
With practice, the most natural, most effortless watching of our thoughts will arise. It will almost feel to some degree that you as a person with a history, a past or sense of separate self will no longer exist. Will no longer be aware of having a body, or a mind, or any reference point of existing. All that will be aware to you, is awareness itself. There are things that we do that feel effortless, but until we have grounded in true effortlessness will we have a real reference point for what that even means. As if we are “following in our own footsteps”.
You will see without looking at a peripheral view of your immediate surroundings. This is also known as the screen of consciousness. It is arising formlessness, which is without borders, without division, without grasping, analyzing, interpreting, thinking, or reference point of anything learned. And on a human level the brain will enter its most effortless state. A release throughout the body will be a relaxed cellular aliveness beyond your wildest imagination. The deepest relaxed intensity of this cellular aliveness, because of knowing who you are, seeing reality just as it is with perfect clarity is Nirvana. Understanding that there is no place to go because you are already present.
As stated earlier we begin with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, Lao Tzu, and others continues below in Chapter Ten, representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.
In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Buddhist teachings on the essence of Meditation / Chapter 10 Victorious Meditation… a continuing commentary.
In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Chapter 10 Victorious Meditation
Key thoughts: Letting go and living with victorious/virtuous behavior – or following in the footsteps of our own highest selves.
- Letting go and living through virtuous behavior as you cast away conceptions, as you let go of definitions and characteristics of objects you learn freedom. To what Confucius would refer to as living as intent with benevolence and virtue.
Offerings at the Confucius Temple in Qingdao.
- Your conduct and virtuous nature always come first in dealings with others and serves as what defines you. Just as you emulate and mirror the conduct, cultivation, and effort of the bodhisattvas with both internal and external conditions that support a meditative practice.
- The three pillars of practice are 1) emptiness, 2) absence of characteristics, and 3) wishlessness that serve to move us beyond mere inconsequential life or existence to what may be referred to as calm abiding.
- Emptiness takes us past the four extremes of: 1) existence, 2) nonexistence, 3) both, and 4) emptiness transcends conceptual grasping altogether. It is the first step that takes us to fulfillment, enlightenment, and transcendence.
- The Buddha tells us that to sustain the view of emptiness is to become free of the effort of maintaining samadhi (the highest form of meditation and mindfulness), yet to remain in samadhi. To what is known as effortless sustaining by freeing our mind of the confusion of the mundane world. Thus, finding contentment as we let anger and confusion pass us by.
- We do this by focusing on the teachings of the Buddha and for myself Lao Tzu. Buddhist meditation is naturally centered on the Buddha, and for many that begins with the image of the Buddha. That he radiates love and wisdom and that he directs his gaze at you. He is free of judgment, compassionate, and omniscient (having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding, perceiving all things). His wisdom and light radiate out to you and all beings. In all your activities visualize that the Buddha is looking down on you.
- Those who are compassionate and inquire about things with wisdom know all past and present phenomenon to be empty and that we are to abide with things as they are without clinging.
- Visualizing that the blissful nature of the Buddha is not separate from ourselves, is unconditional and causeless, and the same as our own. With this we dissolve into nothing important outside of own innate nature as all that remains is emptiness. This allows us to simply live within what we already know as virtue.
- We are to abide in contentment letting any perceived anger not get a foothold on our thoughts letting them pass through us. Practice seeing your mind as an observer with the absence of characteristics. With this wishlessness naturally comes forward, seeing this, you have no desire, no anger, and no ignorance. We learn not to cling to an inconsequential lifestyle and existence.
In The Way of Complete Perfection, the Taoist Anthology, a commentary on the Qingjing jing, discusses finding the flow of the universe and staying within its realm as follows: Heaven attains unified clarity; earth attains unified serenity; and humans attain unified numinosity. (What I would refer to as superior power of discernment; even enlightened intelligence). All of this is unified spirit. The source of numinosity is then completely penetrated as what is known as the sacred Tao that circulates through us and becomes pervasive. Even to referencing Chapter Ten in my own version of the Tao Te Ching leading the way to stillness as the knowing sage.
- We live as if a reflection of the moon on a clear lake as the mirror of our own reality. The reflection we see nothing but an illusion of our real selves. (Reference to chapter 9 King of Meditation Sutra.) There is a story about a famous poet of ancient China named Li Bai, who was drunk after drinking too much plum wine who fell out of a boat in the middle of a lake. He saw the moon’s reflection in the lake and tried to reach out and touch the illusion. He drowns.
- Desiring to attain samadhi, one observes how the three poisons of attachment, aversion, and ignorance are dependent on the six objects of the senses. When you encounter these objects: form, sound, smell, taste, feeling, and phenomenal experience, you engage in the continuity of karma. If you understand they are but an illusion, you will not become attached to them, and most importantly you will not continue the cycle of samsara.
- How is it that the aspiring bodhisattva masters the essential wisdom of the insubstantiality of all phenomena?
We need to fully understand and know that all phenomena are substanceless, essenceless, uncharacterized, undefined, unborn, unceasing, unwritten, empty, primordially peaceful, and naturally pure. (From Chapter 8 King of Meditation Sutra.)
- We begin by residing in our innate nature by letting go of extremes, recalling that our true nature is empty, and that a buddha has let go of all extremes.
- It is insight meditation that maintains our conduct and wisdom, with this we follow the Dharma and tame our mind in the correct way. The true nature is empty, it is peaceful, and is stainless. In the realization of emptiness, there is no conceptual thought as there are no concepts to cling to. If appearances cannot be established, then there can only be illusion. Those who attain the realization and essence of this understanding are considered a buddha.
For comparison’s sake, I like the reference to the Advaita Vedanta, “non-duality”, and a school of Hindu philosophy and “spiritual experience.” What can or does this mean to us? For those following this… God is the one who creates the universe when he wishes, maintains the universe till he wishes, and the universe dies only with his wish only. Everything in the universe, even the non-living things and mass celestial bodies like the planets, galaxies, solar systems are created by the god and are in existence through him and his permission only. The supreme god is the source of all beings, they are born through him and his desire. God is also their destiny and ultimate resting point as they will be returning to God himself. Dharma is the duty and the right that one needs to do for their own betterment as well as the betterment of other people. It is the right act not from the individual – but from the universal point of view.
- It is while in meditation with the absence of clinging we realize this nature for the benefit of all beings as any conceit of the meditator falls away. This is samadhi, where our fearlessness resides, where conceit and grasping ends in truth with ultimate freedom found to rest in meditation without believing in anything beyond the teachings of the Buddha, and for myself, Taoism and Lao Tzu.
- It is in abandoning conceit that we understand that realization depends on first thinking that my view is better than your view and becoming inflated by the purity of our own conduct is not appropriate to the path we are choosing to follow. Selflessness resides in emulating and following our innate empty nature.
- The key to moving beyond conceit and ego is the Dharma where our essential nature is tied to the stars, the universe, and the cosmos. We are everywhere because we have been everywhere. We are to become and speak for the Dharma. While the words of the Buddha are sacred, even more sacred are the words of enlightened beings as they move through the world with words and actions that are perfectly suited to fit our environment and current situation. By connecting with the radiance and realization of the Buddha – you become the Buddha. Ultimately with training, your role is to speak for the universe, to abide in what is known as dharmakaya.
- Training in our buddha-nature means coming to rest as if returning to the stars in the sky like dharmakaya. To return to our natural self, as if returning to what is known as nonmeditation, to where right and wrong do not exist, good and bad – the whole approach to dualism does not exist. As simple as sitting in emptiness as our essential nature. Here we can abandon samsara as our mind becomes luminous.
- When we realize the empty nature of the mind, this is when wisdom comes forth as an awakened state indivisible from Shakyamuni Buddha that is the essence of all phenomena. When our persona precedes us, we can then eliminate attachment, liberate aversion, and move beyond ignorance.
- Unfolding our innate wisdom we have always known, but seemingly forgotten remains the key to our eternal presence we are here to acknowledge and return to. To practice nonmeditation means we accede to our highest self. Placing our mind on the form of the Buddha. To rest in calm abiding and knowing that we are never separate from the Buddha’s nature. It is here that great understanding becomes us as we live as if we have already arrived at our final destination.