Monday, February 8, 2010

Fresh from the cushion

Finished retreat day before yesterday but am still working on the latest insights. How can these almost banal things take so long to come from ‘yes, yes, I know’ to ‘knowing’. Or is it just me so narrow minded that insights hardly get through?
But first of all, mainly for my family I want to say this:
When I talk of all the suffering, pain and of miserable existence, … I know it worries you. And sometimes I hesitate to write of it, therefore. But misery, pain etc. are moments, after which happiness arises again, or indifference. Neither of it lasts long. Misery is there, in everybody’s existence, as is happiness. I’m observing suffering, am not living it. That makes pretty much of a difference. Moments of real suffering, problems actual, present, hot, larger than that Bhikkhuni ordination is difficult to get or food has far too much garlic, are rare. I feel very, very much a fortunate.
Ajahns laconic: ‘have metta for yourself’ that he said among all ‘more effort’, more concentration’ kept me busy. I worked for an increase of upekha [equanimity], and thought metta [loving kindness], khanti [patience] will help me to get it .
First I thought, ‘well if I have metta with myself, I’m going to sleep long and stop practicing, ha!’. Silly thing. Then I realized that it is enormous difficult to have metta for myself, but sending it to other is easy. Then I found that I don’t really know what it means to have metta for someone or how to send it, that what I did so far as was sending metta, was some wishful thinking and some imaginings. Then I understood that when I have metta for me, then there is metta and once it is there, it is for me and everybody else, without difference, it’s just there. But then I didn’t know how to get it. No idea, no access to it. And then one morning there was a little spark and then a silent, tiny little supernova happened in my chest. The body was flooded by warmth, lights, colors. All was very decent and if it had happened in another occasion I would not have noticed it. And then there was love, immense, overwhelming. Oceans full, never ending sources.
Too much to bear, and I closed, tried to open, found it again, couldn’t bear it again, closed and started to play with closing - opening for it. It still works.
That’s where metta comes from, that’s what it is: It’s just there one just has to open the mind for it.
‘It’s Buddhaday I can’t run to Ajahn’, tears were falling and there was too much love but not enough patience, not enough equanimity. ‘That’s on the list as well phalañani, so remain on the cushion and learn it.’
The fresh experience of this ‘source of love’ kicked me far away from equanimity. I didn’t move physically but mentally was moved. Metta too overwhelming, equanimity out of reach, so I concentrated on patience, I tried but weak concentration. So I started to get deep into observing the rising and falling of the abdomen, the sitting of this body the touching points and concentration got better again. It must be the same with all paramis [perfections, perfect virtues], I thought, ‘they are there, among all the mind pollution there is perfection, like the good smells we breathe in with all the polluted air, just keep watching the breath, phalañani’.
Without lights and colors, drums and trumpets patience was there, in sitting; equanimity was there; karuna, [compassion] was there. Compassion is even harder to bear than love.
This is all way too big for me, I have to get used to it slowly, when compassion is there without equanimity, I just cry. When there is love but no patience, I scare people. When there is equanimity without love, it’s cold … So I have to learn how this all works together.
This morning an ant was walking over face and left ear. I noted itching, itching. Usually I would have waited a while to show me that I have some patience but then after 2 minutes would have put it away. Today I understood that this little being’s existence is much more miserable then mine, when it walks on my face it just does its job, it’s not personal, it does not intend to bother me. Understanding this I could develop love and compassion for the ant, that helped me to bear the itching with patience, just noting it and equanimity arose. After teaching me thus, master ant left.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Dhamma Sister,
I am delighted to read your analysis of the inter-relations of these lovely mental states. Ven. Nyanaponika Thera made a remarkably similar analysis in Wheel Pub #6 "The Four Sublime States" (in the last section of the booklet). See: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

Anonymous said...

P.S., I didn't mean to leave anonymously the comment about the Wheel Pub. Metta,
Bhikkhuni Sudhamma

Bhikkhuni Sudhamma said...

That link to Wheel Pub #6 didn't come through. It should be:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

Bhikkhuni Sudhamma said...

... It still doesn't look like the link info has come through, due to the length. Here's the last part:

/nyanaponika/wheel006.html

phalanyani said...

the link worked well for me when you sent it the first time. Thank you, i started reading last night, but fell asleep, still jetlag.

phalanyani said...

Dear Bhikkhuni Sudhamma,

in the meantime I read the text, Thank you for sending the link.
It's good to know that some insights that are arising when sitting in meditation are described by others, by people more learned and more advanced, in a way that I probably will never be able to describe it.
It gives kind of confidence that wisdom truly is within beings, hidden by delusion and defilement and that hard work, intense meditation enables wisdom and purity to shine through delusion and defilement from time to time.