Monday, August 11, 2014

Is Sitting Meditation the Best

"We're fooling ourselves a bit to think that we're meditating as we're gardening or waling or out on the golf course or volunteering or even reading "spiritual books."  Those are all cause and conditions that, with the right mindset - a mindset based on wise intention and anchored to a committed sitting practice - can enable us to relax, to be more at peace, to have some insights, to even have an occasional experience of oneness with all that is.  But those activities, in and of themselves, with anchoring in strong intention and committed sitting practice, are unable to transform and free our minds.  They are not in themselves, the necessary causes of awakening, let's not deceive ourselves in the time we have left.

We need the focused, concentrated energy of awareness that seems only to be cultivated with a daily practice if we wish to walk through the world with clarity and compassion.  We need to carve out the time to sit if we have not yet done so, , or carve out more time if we have already begun.  Sitting - the silent, noble stilling of the body and the mind for the purpose of liberating awareness into beyond-self, into deeper, more illuminated consciousness - allows an opening in the limited, limiting paradigm of separate self and only form.

Sitting practice is where transformation is effected, where neural connections are rewired.  Sitting practice is the launching pad for piercing insight, direct knowing, and the opening of the heart.  It is the base of operations."

-  Kathleen Dowling Singh, "The Grace in Aging: Awaken as You Grow Older," Wisdom Publications, 2014, p. 33.  A very good book about Buddhist theory and practices.  

Many Taijiquan, Qigong, and Yoga teachers strongly recommend seated meditation as part of a rigorous mind-body-spirit practice.

"Practice is the seedbed of miracles."
-  Michael Murphy

Undoubtedly, many people find the consistent, daily, and serious practice of seated meditation of great benefit to mind, body, and spirit.  Only practice and experience will reveal and bear fruit. 

I favor keeping the "mindset" Ms. Singh admirably describes while walking, gardening, practicing mind-body arts, reading, writing, and sitting.  There are many useful paths to enlightened awareness, mystical experiences, openness, cultivating loving kindness, or the Eightfold Path.  The practice of enlightened living is cultivated in our daily lives, relations with other beings, and in our understanding of the changing and impermanent circumstances of our being-in-the-world.  I find the desired "mindset" or "no-mind-set" while sitting in my garden, sometimes listening to music, sometimes reading poetry (see R. H. Blyth), or "spiritual books," sometimes just sitting and listening to bird songs and the rustling of leaves in the morning breeze.  It is my personal preference to not regard seated meditation as the highest and most effective and most superior pathway to enlightenment and whatever "enlightenment" means.  To each is own!  

Walking Meditation

Standing Meditation

Lifestyle Advice from Wise Persons

Buddhism:  Reading List and Bibliography  

"Basho used to sit cross-legged from morning till night in constant meditation.  His master Nagaku saw him and asked: "Why are you sitting cross-legged in meditation?"  "I am trying to become a Buddha," he answered.  The master picked up a brick and began polishing it on a stone nearby.  "What are you doing, Master?asked Basho.  "I am trying to turn this brick into a mirror," was the answer.  "No amount of polishing will turn the brick into a mirror, sir."  "If so, no amount of sitting cross-legged will make you into a Buddha," retorted the master."
Games Zen Masters Play: The Writings of R. H. Blyth.,  p.13.   

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice there is."
-  Yogi Berra


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