Friday, January 7, 2011

DO NOT SHAMATHA ON (HABIT) TRACKS

Caveat: I am still not feeling very well and I am having trouble thinking. Apologies if this writing is not as elegant as you have come to expect. 

I came across The Heart of The Buddha's Teachings by Thich Nhat Hanh on Jason's couch down here in the boy cave.

"Buddhist meditation has two aspects — shamatha and vipashyana. We tend to stress the importance of viashyana ("looking deeply") because it can bring us insight and liberate us from suffering and afflictions. But the practice of shamatha ("stopping") is fundamental. If we cannot stop, we cannot have insight.


There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts. "Where are you going?" and the first man replies, "I don't know! Ask the horse!" This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don't know where we are going and we can't stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We are always running, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves, and we can easily start a war with others."

Habit energy. Oh yeah. Always running. Yeah.

Stopping to break habits of thought. Like I don't like unloading the dishwasher. I realized I didn't like putting away dishes because of the kitchen organization made it somewhat clumsy (especially when one is always wrangling interested cats hanging around).
I stopped (see above) and remembered that I had reorganized the cupboards. Maybe I should give unloading the dishwasher another shot?

Rather than the auto pilot, "I hate doing that, therefore I will avoid it," I decided I would try again. I could always going back to detesting unloading the dishwasher. I risked 5 minutes of being uncomfortable to see what I found something else.

And I did. Habit of not unloading dishwasher vanished.

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