Simple Being, Process Work, and an Old Buddhist Scandal

Simple Being, Process Work, and an Old Buddhist Scandal

Howdy, folks!
Yesterday I ran across this interesting passage from Huang Po, the very intense Chinese Zen master from way back in the day:

“The mind of the bodhisattva is like the void and everything is relinquished by it. When thoughts of the past are not taken hold of, that is relinquishment of the past. When thoughts of the present are not taken hold of, that is relinquishment of the present. When thoughts of the future are not taken hold of, that is relinquishment of the future. This is called utter relinquishment of Triple Time.”

Imagine that! Imagine a state in which there is no clinging to thought about whatever is unfolding–past, present, or future. More and more, as I travel along the path that the Buddha laid out before all of us, after so much time and attention spent upon examining the processes of the mind which create the illusion of a self that suffers, practice comes down simply to this: just being, without thought, or without at least identifying oneself with thinking. Utterly simple, and utterly profound–but nothing special. Isn’t that good? The wind blows through the trees. The sunlight illuminates drops of dew on the tips of blades of grass. A friend smiles, and it is simply that, and no more.

The process-focused work is essential, too, in my experience. I’m reading an account right now of a huge Buddhist scandal that happened decades ago, and finding it to be absolutely fascinating. Perhaps the most interesting facet involves the fact that the practice advocated in that community involved little or no process-work, from what I can detect from the description. It was all about sitting, and sitting hours every day. Sitting meditation is a profoundly helpful and beautiful thing, of course, and I sit a good amount every day, myself. Most directly we learn to simply be, without clinging to thought, in our meditation practice. If we do not cultivate our awareness of process, however–if we don’t look into all of our crap and all the ways we subject ourselves and others to that crap–then we can fall victim to a sort of quietism. Meditators without process tools, in other words, can become really good at focusing their attention and being present, without the necessary accompaniment of an expanded awareness. It appears that this is what happened to the community I’m reading about, with the result that a space was created for people to do all sorts of selfish and self-centered things without realizing it.

In the end, though, or perhaps I should say in any moment that we’re not entangled with conditioned mind, that we’re not in our “stuff”, the practice becomes very simple. Just be here, resting in awareness, being the experience that unfolds without thinking about that experience or attaching to desires about one’s experience…. Ahhh…..

In peace,
David