Beautiful Breath wrote:Hi,
I have been practicing Silent Illumination as taught by Sheng Yen for sometime. I am seeing many parallels in some of the established practices in here.
I suspect that there is an actual and established practice that uses a form of unconditional bare awareness of 'just sitting' in the Theravadin tradition and that Silent Illumination/Shikantaza are not necessarily new developments (in the grand scheme of things).
What are the similarities in your opinion?
Meditation can also proceed without a meditation object, in a state of pure contemplation, or 'choiceless awareness'.
After calming the mind by one of the methods described above, consciously put aside the meditation object. Observe the flow of mental images and sensations just as they arise, without engaging in criticism or praise. Notice any aversion and fascination; contemplate any uncertainty, happiness, restlessness or tranquility as it arises. You can return to a meditation object (such as the breath) whenever the sense of clarity diminishes, or if you begin to feel overwhelmed by impressions. When a sense of steadiness returns, you can relinquish the object again.
This practice of 'bare attention' is well-suited for contemplating the mental process. Along with observing the mind's particular 'ingredients', we can turn our attention to the nature of the container. As for the contents of the mind, Buddhist teaching points especially to three simple, fundamental characteristics.
First, there is changeability (anicca) -- the ceaseless beginning and ending all things go through, the constant movement of the content of the mind. This mind-stuff may be pleasant or unpleasant, but it is never at rest.
There is also a persistent, often subtle, sense of dissatisfaction (dukkha). Unpleasant sensations easily evoke that sense, but even a lovely experience creates a tug in the heart when it ends. So at the best of moments there is still an inconclusive quality in what the mind experiences, a somewhat unsatisfied feeling.
As the constant arising and passing of experiences and moods become familiar, it also becomes clear that -- since there is no permanence in them -- none of them really belong to you. And, when this mind-stuff is silent -- revealing a bright spaciousness of mind -- there are no purely personal characteristics to be found! This can be difficult to comprehend, but in reality there is no 'me' and no 'mine' -- the characteristic of 'no-self', or impersonality (anatta).
Investigate fully and notice how these qualities pertain to all things, physical and mental. No matter if your experiences are joyful or barely endurable, this contemplation will lead to a calm and balanced perspective on your life.
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