Talk Six April 3rd- Sitting with Confidence

The first five weeks we have spent discussing the necessary attitude for approaching meditation practice. The fundamental teachings of the Buddha point towards our true nature, which is that of a Buddha. We see that underlying all of the distractions, which arise as a result of our confusion, we are fully awake; open, clear, and consistent. This is an essential point to understand about meditation practice. In meditation practice we are not looking for anything. Buddhism nor meditation make us better people, rather it is a process of discovery. However, this discovery only takes place when we stop looking for something, because when we stop looking we discover space, our true nature. Tonight we will begin our discussion of actual meditation practice, and I am somewhat reluctant about this. The reason being, I really hope everyone has understood the necessary attitude we must take regarding meditation practice. If you have not, meditation practice will be nothing more than another form of mental masturbation that we engage in. Without the proper view of meditation practice it becomes nothing more than us sitting down and validating our delusional self-centered beliefs and methods of manipulating the world in order to establish some sense of solid ground for ego.
So when we look at meditation in the Buddhist tradition we see that we begin with Buddha Nature, the whole path consists of realizing Buddha Nature, and finally the result is realizing Buddha Nature. That is why Gampopa in his Jewel Ornament of Liberation calls Buddha Nature the foundation of all practice. This is also why I keep saying that we are not talking about becoming a better you, instead we are talking about realizing the essential perfection which is already present. Although when we first hear this idea it might sound lovely, it can be somewhat difficult for us to relate to what seems to be such an idealistic principle. In Mark 1:14 The Christ says, “That the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Meister Eckhart says of this that we must first develop an awareness of our kingship. So therein lies the problem, we are asleep or confused. It isn’t to terribly mystical or esoteric a principle either, it is actually quite simple. If I see myself as some disgusting piece of crap then I will probably relate to the world as though it is one great big toilet! On the other hand if we see that we are kings and that all beings posses this potential, from here we will begin to relate to the world as though it were our Kingdom, because it is! We no longer have to arrange the world to suit ourselves rather we can simply accept the world as it is. This why Mathew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth”. Meek here is connected with the idea of humility. This type of humility is not that of a coward that lays down and becomes a doormat for the world. It is the type of humility that is born of deep insight into our true nature, and manifest in the form of openness and interaction with the Kingdom. This idea is connected with the mandala principle in Tibetan Buddhism. We are not talking about becoming a dictator who tries to force his will on everything, rather we are talking about accepting the Kingdom as it is and working with it from there. Accepting the Kingdom as it is, is our invitation to work with it. Otherwise we sit around, whine, and complain because it isn’t how we think it should be. On the other hand once we accept it, it is like hearing the music and now we can begin to dance.
So how do we develop such a drastic shift in the way we see and relate to the world? We first have to recognize that there is no fundamental separation between mind and body, that they are inextricably connected. From here we can begin by taking our seat. Meditation starts with our posture, with the way we sit. Currently our rather flimsy view of ourselves leads to a rather floppy posture, one that has little respect and dignity. We lay around like sacks of flour. That is why when you walk into a temple there are certain rules, like no laying around, because these types of postures are the manifestations of attitudes that do not agree with meditation practice. So starting today we arrange ourselves with confidence. We sit in the cross legged posture, with our back straight, place our hands palms down on our thighs, head slightly lowered, with our shoulders pulled back gently, we bring our eyes to a slight gaze, and place our tongue behind our two front teeth in the roof of our mouth. We sit in this way, because it is genuine, open, and dignified. In time we begin to develop confidence. With the development of this confidence we see that our presence in other activities changes, because it radiates our confidence. We walk with poise, we sit in our chair with dignity, and we talk with respect. Conversation becomes a little lighter, more spacious, because we have confidence, we have dignity. We no longer feel threatened or afraid, there is no need to fight or hide. This confidence isn’t limited to ourselves it is extended out towards everything. We are completely involved, and all this begins with taking our seat.

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