WEEK FIVE: MEDITATION
(taken and pieced together from Thay’s book The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching)
Verse to read & reflect on daily:
Meditation consists of two aspects: stopping and looking deeply. We run our whole life chasing after one idea or happiness or another. Stopping is to stop our running, our forgetfulness, our being caught in the past or the future. We come home to the present moment, where life is available. Stopping is the practice of calming our body and emotions through the practice of mindful breathing, mindful walking, and mindful sitting; it is also the practice of concentrating, so we can live deeply each moment of our life. Looking deeply is to see the true nature of things. You look deeply into the person you love and find out what kinds of suffering or difficulty she has within herself and what aspirations she holds.
Unlike with the other paramitas thus far, this one brought up very little for me. The other ones spurred a lot of reflection for me but this past week very little has bubbled up for me around meditation and the daily verse.
The emphasis on looking deeply resonates for me and I appreciate how simply Thay broke meditation down to stopping & looking deeply. I think sometimes it can be easy to think meditation is just about stopping – but for me, if I practice stopping without also adding in the practice of deep looking, then I’m not so sure really much can change or transform; I’m not sure I can do much growing.
Deep looking is a necessary component of transformation, growth work, and skill building. In late March, I watched a Dharma talk online by Brother Phap Dung and I took notes during it (as I always do) and I jotted down something he shared: “ Deep looking is not analyzing, it means deep listening.” This really spoke to me. As soon as I heard him say that it made so much sense. So I’ve been keeping this teaching close to me: deep looking means deep listening. And I would add for myself: deep looking means being curious and asking questions.
We have one more week and, thus, one more paramita left to go in our 6-week series. The small 6-person paramita reflection group I started and am part of has been just lovely, especially in this home-locked time in the wake of covid. Each Sunday, I get the pleasure of reading the check in’s from the other group members and each Monday, I am nourished by the thought that we’re all embarking on a new paramita together for the week. This is me, now, trying not to miss our group a week before it becomes a reality.