Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Way To Liberation

In a nutshell, here's how vipassana meditation leads to liberation:

1) We sit still and get quiet. This allows us to pay attention more fully to what is happening inside us, rather than having to deal with all of the stuff outside.

2) We turn our attention to the feeling of the body breathing itself. This is a present-moment sensory reality. The mind will very naturally, spontaneously, and effortlessly begin to stabilize and gather itself in the present moment, also. It has no choice. When we pay attention to something in the present moment, the mind moves in that direction as well and doesn't do so much fantasizing about the future or remembering the past.

3) The mind will continue to be active, and from time to time it will wander. The wandering mind is an important component of meditation practice. When we notice the mind has wandered, we retrieve our attention and bring it back to the feeling of the breath.

4) This diligent attention to the object of the breath, and the subsequent concentration that results, allows us to sustain our attention on other objects as they arise. Sensory objects, such as sounds, will present themselves, and we can turn our attention to these experiences in the same way we pay attention to the breath. Very soon, we see that the mind steps in and begins to catagorize, create preferences, express likes and dislikes, and so forth. These are thoughts. The sensory reality is a fact, and is essentially neutral (see yesterday's blog for more about this). We can now begin to see clearly how the mind has habitual ways of reacting to sensory facts. This is insight.

5) Our training of the mind in the early part of the practice now allows us to disengage from the thinking mind and return back to the sensory reality of the breath. Even though the thought may be very seductive, we must leave it, and choose the breath eventually.

6) In our daily life, when we are presented with thoughts that cause us suffering, we can use this same schematic of recognizing the thought as it happens, and make the choice to move the attention to a sensory reality, such as the feeling of the breath. This will help liberate us from suffering.


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