The spring lecture series
is soon coming to a close with the coming mini-retreat next Saturday!
A few musings for you:
We mistakenly believe that we appear when are born and disappear when we die.
As a meaning-making organ the brain orders the vast array of experiences the organism is subjected to. It does that in part by using concepts and creating story lines, also called narratives. Moreover, the brain abhors gaps and inconsistencies, and creatively fills them in to make it appear as if our life's experiences were seamless, logical and following a story line, even when they aren't.
It then becomes commonplace for us to say to ourselves for example "I did not have time to formally practice today because I had too many obligations to fulfill", not noticing that my notion of time and the causal link between practice and obligations are utterly false. My more truthful thought would have been "I did not take time to formally practice today because I am not deeply convinced of the fundamental importance of it in the midst of my busy life". The problem is that this more truthful narrative comes with much more difficult emotions to be processed and integrated than the first one, which allows for blissful dissociation from the truth. In other words, the brain's construction of narratives as a way of ordering our experiences of reality is a powerful way of creating continuity and meaning, of giving us a point of reference, but it comes with a hefty price - the loss of deep insight into the nature of reality.
When we look deeply, we realize that nothing arises from nothing and everything manifests as a result of an infinite amount of conditions coming together. The narrative mind tends to think in simple causes: The carpenter is the cause of this new table. But that is not true! The table's causes are infinite and include the food the carpenter eats, the oxygen he breathes, his states of mind, his parents, the car he drives, etc. Change one or two of these conditions and the table won't manifest.
When one or two conditions fail and the thing does not manifest in the same way, we say it does not exist. That is a misleading simplification. To qualify something as existing or not existing is wrong. Nothing totally exists or totally does not exist.
The ideas of past and future are useful, yet they are just ideas, concepts. The brain's cognitive functions create a sense of an extended time from past through present to future. Reality is free from concepts and ideas, free from the construction of time. This means that all that is real is here and now. The past is real as an idea and as conditioned experiences cast by neurofiring shadows (as when you act out an implicit memory), and in the same way that the menu you read is not the food you eat, the idea of the past will never make the past as real as it was when it was present. In fact (let me be very precise), this present memory of the past is a present-moment experience and quite unlike the original experience now arising as a memory.
These are the elements of the mystery of life we so often forget:
1. Reality is the present, and only the present.
2. The present is always radically new and fresh, having never manifested before and never manifesting in the same way again.
3. The present is here and now, thus reality has two dimensions, a spatial and a movement (time) dimension.
4. Looked at from the movement dimension, reality is impermanence; impermanence means being transformed in every moment; and if things are impermanent, they are without a separate essence.
5. Looked at from the spatial dimension, reality is non-essence (no-self); non-essence means to interbe, to be everywhere and nowhere, since everything has to depend on other things; and if things don't have an independent essence, they are impermanent.
6. Reality is impermanence and non-essence, both captured in the notion of emptiness.
7. In summary, impermanence is emptiness seen from the angle of movement (time), and non-essence (no-self) is emptiness seen from the angle of space.
Before we are born the conditions are such for us to manifest in other than this particular bodily form. When we are born there are enough conditions for this particular bodily form to manifest as a baby. Throughout our lives, moment-by-moment, there are enough conditions for our bodily form to manifest exactly the way it does in this moment. When we die there cease to be enough conditions for this exact bodily form to manifest and we manifest in other forms.
Are the 10-year old boy St�phane and the 70-year old man the same or different?
They are not the same, because through impermanence the conditions have changed;
and they are not different, because through interbeing and no-self the boy is the condition for the old man.
THIS COMING SATURDAY:
Last spring lecture:
Saturday, June 1, 2013, 3pm-5pm
In these two hours join us for a respite from the tyranny of your autopilot zombie self. This mini-retreat will provide you with a brief, yet intensive and direct experience of mindfulness meditation practice. Dr. Treyvaud will not lecture, but lead you through a sequence of fundamental meditation practices with explanatory comments along the way.
With mindfulness, the challenge is to bring it to life as a strongly lived experience that inspires every moment of our lives - to move from being a spectator of mindfulness to living mindfully moment-by-moment. The call is not to reach for the grandeur of fantastic expectations, but to know how to pay attention to the minute details of our ordinary moments, bring them fully alive, know the tricks of the trade that allow us to overcome challenges and unforeseen circumstances, and discover the extraordinariness of the ordinary. How do we do that?
What does it take not to forget, not to feel discouraged, and to be grounded in mindfulness right now, no matter when, without excuses ... as you read this text? This will be the emphasis in this retreat. Prepare yourself to leave the session with a sense of having been challenged in your customary ways of moving from moment to moment. You may leave refreshed, exhausted, exhilarated, disturbed, intrigued or all of the above (most likely). There will be time for questions at the end.
Please bring along a pillow or any other props you need to help you be more comfortable in sitting. To sit in alignment your seat needs to be high enough, so that your hip joints are slightly higher than your knees. We will provide chairs, space to sit on the floor, and if you need an area to lie down on the floor.
This mini retreat is open for those new to meditation or for those who wish to deepen their ongoing practice. There will be time for sharing and questions at the end of the practice.
With kind regards,