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EasyDoesIt
Theheartofthedzogchenteachings
JAMES LOW

W IL D

HEART

G A TH E R IN G , E A S T S U S S E X , UK S E P T E M B E R 2010

T R A N S C R IB E D

AND

E D IT E D

BY

SARAH ALLEN

Youcanalsolistentoarecordingofthistalkat http://soundcloud.com/simplybeing

www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

Extracts: Wearenotthecontentofourmindandyetweareinseparablefromthecontentofour mind.Thecontentofourmindisexperience;itisnotselfdefinition;itisnotessence. Thus,ifyouhavebadtimes,thesebadtimesdontdefinewhoyouare.Ifyougetabit crazyforawhileoryoufeelcollapsedorworthlessandlifelosesitsmeaning,ifyoucan relaxandbewiththat,itthenpasses...

Itisveryimportantnottofeeltooincharge.Theworstpunishmentyoucangetinlife istofeelthatitisalluptome.Thatisaverysadandlonelyplace.Actually,ourlifeis revealedthroughbeingwithothers.Ourlifecomestous;isgiventouswhenwemake thegestureofwelcomingit.Andsometimesthatishappyandsometimesitissadbutit isarevelation;itisnotathingyoucanhangonto.Thisisreallythebasicheartofthe dzogchenteachings;thattherearenothings,thereareonlymomentsofungraspable experiencearisingwithintheopenfieldofawareness.Andthemoreweseethatwe areintegratedinopenspaciousnessthemorethemomentsarefinejustastheyare.

Toopenandseewhatishereisthepuristformofphenomenology.Itisallowingthe worldtobeasitisandallowingourselvestobeasweare.Youcouldsaythatthisisthe basis of a profound nonviolence. Although the desire to develop ourselves and increase our good qualities seems to be a beautiful intention, it is actually a limiting obscuration. For every time we have an idea of who we should be and we try to become that idea, what we are actually doing is engaging in violence against how we are now. We are saying: I am not good enough. I should be different from this. I wouldbebetteroffifIwassomebodyelse.Thus,ourhopeofbettermentstartswith an act of selfattack, trying to transform ourselves without even seeing the nature of the one we want to transform. The hostility of this attitude reinforces our dualistic structure:Iamtakingupapositionagainstmyselfinordertorecreatemyselfinaway that will get more approval from other people and myself. We are just like a little mouse in a cage going round and round on an exercise wheel. There is no end to developmentfortherearealwaysnewideasaboutwhoweshouldbe.Therefore,the keythingistorelaxandopenandbepresentwithoneselfasoneis.

Wearehere,alivesosimplyattendtothatimmediatepresenceofawarenessthatis our open ground, the ever present basis of all our experience. Simply be aware, be present in, with and as the flow of experience. Observe how movement, a gesture in space and time is an expression or revelation of ungraspable presence. Our open potentialshowsmanyforms,asselfandother,yetnoappearancedefineswhoweare.

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Contents:
Introduction ....................................................................................................................................... 2 Purificationanddevelopmentarealreadypresent ............................................................................. 2 Weliveinawebofstories.................................................................................................................. 3 Howcanwebeopentoeverythingthatoccurswithoutbeingoverwhelmed? ................................... 4 Remaininfiniteandopennotexistingasathing................................................................................ 5 Justbepresentwiththeworldasitisandourselvesasweare........................................................... 7 Whatwecallourselvesisamovementofdialogue............................................................................. 9 ThreeAameditation ...................................................................................................................... 11 Recognisingtheintegrationofstillnessandmovement ...................................................................... 12 Wisdomandcompassion:anaturalaestheticofconnectivity............................................................. 14 Stayingwiththerawingredients ......................................................................................................... 15 Questionsandresponses.................................................................................................................. 16

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Introduction
We now have a little time together to find a particular way of looking at ourselves to reveal a senseofthenatureofourownexistence.Iwillbetalkingaboutthisfromthepointofviewof dzogchenwhichisanaspectofTibetanbuddhism. Dzogchenisnotconcernedwithelaborating particularstructuresofbelieforformalpracticebutratherhelpsusdeconstructorletgoofsome oftheknotsandlimitationsthatwecanfindourselvesboundinto. Everybody has a kind of agenda. We live in a very commercial world and in a sense we are all sellingsomethingbasicallyweareselling:Iamaniceperson,youshouldlikeme.Wetryto workoutwaysofdoingthat,findingournichemarketofthosewhomwecanconvincethatwe areok.However,thisusuallyinvolvesrunninganumber,establishingarole.Thatistosay,we becomeveryidentifiedwithaparticularaspectofourpersonalityorwayofbeing.Andthrough thatidentificationtherecanbeanincreaseincompetenceand,also,perhaps,ofselfesteemor ease of being. Yet, at the same time we become diminished because we are identified with a particularformationorconnection.Thatistosay,assoonaswetakeonashape,theverynature of that shape will determine the possibilities of connection with other shapes. Thus, the more tightlyformedwearewhichisoftenaqualitythatgoeswithconfidencethenarrowerthearea ofinteractionwehaveintheworld.Ratherthandoingthis,thedzogchenwayoflookingatlife suggests that we relax a little and open to the experience of ourselves as participating in the widestrangeofpossibleencounterswithotherpeople.Iwillunpackthisalittleandlaterwewill dosomemeditation.

Purificationanddevelopmentarealreadypresent
IwouldliketostartwiththeideaofBuddha.BuddhaintheTibetanlanguageisexpressedassang gye.Thisismadeupoftwoterms:sangmeaningtopurifyandgyemeaningtoincrease.Wecan takethatonaverybasiclevel,thinkingthatweveallgotproblems,difficulties,thingswedont likeaboutourselveswhichweneedtopurify.Wecanalsorecognisethattherearegoodqualities that we dont have that we might like to get; so then there is the issue of how to develop ourselvesperhaps through courses, workshopsandsoon.Thatisourgeneralculturalposition. However,ofcourse,thereisadifficultyinthatbecausethereisnoendtodevelopment.There aremanyinterestingpeopleintheworldandweseethemandthink,Oh,Iwouldliketobeabit morelikethat,orOh,howinteresting,IhadneverthoughtImightbeabletolearnthat,and sothereisakindofextensionofourselvesoutofourselvestowardssomepossibilityofsomething thatmightbeusefulandfulfilling. However,fromthepointofviewofdzogchenthesetwoaspectsofpurificationanddevelopment arealreadypresentinus.Itisjustthatinourpreoccupations,inouridentificationwiththoughts and ideas, we often dont recognise our actual situation. We can explore this in terms of two linkedaspects,stillnessandmovement.Whenwearejustsittingquietlybyourselveswearenot necessarilystill;thereisusuallyquitealotgoingon.Therearesensationsinthebody,thoughts andfeelings.Whoishavingthisexperience?Weare.Thatistosay,westandinrelationtoour experiencewhichallowsustosaythingslike,Iamabittired,orIamhungry,or,Iamreally interestedinthis.Wefindourselvesmakingcommentariesonourexperienceinwhichtheone whoishavingtheexperienceistakenforgranted:Iamme,Iammyself.Andifyouhavebeen around for a few years, that notion of being yourself gets quite developed: you have a lot of memories,youhaveseengoodtimes,badtimes,youhaveseendoorsopeningandthenyouhave seenthemclosing.Thus,thereisasense,veryoften,ofhavingtoprotectourselves;thatsome things are good for us in the world and some are rather dangerous. Our own sense of self is www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

fragilebecauseinordertostayalivewehavetobeincontactwithotherpeople.Tobetouched andmovedistheveryessenceofexistencebutinordertoprotectourselveswewanttocontrol what touches us and we want to control how we are moved. However, the more we define ourselves,themorelimitedweareinourrepertoireofresponses. Acentralpointhereistoexaminethewayinwhichwedefineourselvestoourselvesand,through that,tostarttoseehowotherpeopledefineustoourselves.Thatistosay,weliveinunceasing feedback loops in which people like us or dont like us, are amused by us or not, and these responsesfromothersdontarisefromastablestateinthem,andnordotheygenerateastable stateinus.Oursenseofselfandotherfluctuatesmomentbymomentasourmoodchangesand theirmoodchanges.Itisveryeasytogetcaughtupinasecondorderreactivitytotheseshifts, andtothink,Ohno,Ididthatwrong.Imusttryharder;theremustbeabetterwayofdoingit, abetterwayofbeingme.HopefullyyoucanseeherethatthiscreatesasenseofImaworkin progress.Icannotrest;thereisalwaysmoretodo,sothatatthecentreofourbeingisakindof unformednesswhichfeelsabitanxietyprovoking: Ishouldbemoresorted.Welookaround andseeotherpeopleandtheyallseemtobesorted.Weimaginethatmostpeoplehavegottheir livestogetherandwelookatourselvesandthink,Ohno,Imallovertheplace.Theriskthenis thatwepretendtobemoresortedthanweare,developingapersona,animageofourselvesthat wehopeothers,andweourselves,willbelievein.However,thiscreatesafamiliarproblem:an image,ifitisheldinplace,isgoingtobearestrictionaswellasadefence. Thisleadsustothecentralpointofhowtostartbeingpresentwithourselvesasourselvessothat wecanberevealedtoourselvesbyourselvesdirectlyinthelivedmomentofourexperience,not needinganyelaboratesystemfromoutside,andespeciallynotneedinganyonetotelluswhowe are.Fromthetimewewereyoungwehavehadquitealotofpeopletellinguswhoweare;giving us information about the formation of ourselves. And that tends to lead to a sense of being a form,beingaparticularkindofpersonbutwhoistheonewhoishavingthisexperience?

Weliveinawebofstories
Herewearesittingtogetherandweareallbreathinginandoutwearealive.Presumablyyou havethoughts,feelingsandsensationsatthisverymoment.Whoistheonewhoisexperiencing these thoughts, feelings and sensations? Normally we say, I am. I know I am alive because thingsarehappeningtome.Thus,thefactthatIfeeltheimpactofthingscomingintome,onto me, and as it were, out of me towards the world, affirms the basic integrity of my existence. However, what we might see is that this is just a narrative, a story. I am using language to tell myself about who I am as if I exist as a lubristic, hubristic phenomenon the first person singular: I am me. I am myself. Although these statements seem to be pointing towards somethingwhichtrulyexists,infacttheyarecreatingtheillusionofsomething. Forexample,ifIsay,Thisismywatch,thatisaveryordinarykindofstatement.Iamholdingin my hand something which we can all recognise, for this is a watch and we have seen watches beforeastheyarepartofourworld.Wetakethewatchnessofthewatchforgranted.However, howdoeslanguageconnectwithreality?Thethinginmyhandseemstobecaughtbytheword watch.Thatistosay,whenIsaywatch,thewordseemstohaveadirectrelationshipwithwhat isinmyhand.However,thewatchnessofthewatchisaculturalconceptthatbelongstousifwe havebeeninitiatedintothecultofknowingaboutwatches.Whenchildrenaretwoorthreeyears ofagetheyknowthatthisisashinyobjectandwanttoputittheirmouthormaybestickiton theirheadorputitonalittlecaranddriveitaround.Lateron,bythetimetheyaresix,sevenor eighttheyarestartingtohaveanideaoftimeandthentheystarttolearntotellthetime.Thus, www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

eachofthesestagesisaninitiationintoawayofreadingaphenomena.Thatistosay,without theconceptofwatchwhatwouldthisbe? Weliveinaweboflanguage,awebofstories;storieswhichcanbeverybeautiful,veryterrifying, frightening,depressing,anxietyprovokingandsoon.Andour verysenseofself,initsordinary movement, is largely a linguistic creation. That is to say, I am the one who is revealed by the stories I tell about myself, and by the stories other people tell about me. We come into existence as as ourselves according to the particular shapings of an environment, and at the sametimethisconstitutivemovementofwords,thoughtsandfeelingsisbeingexperienced.This presenceisnotthepresenceofsomethingelse,itisexactlywhoweareandyetisimpersonalin thatitisnotdefinedbyanyofthemomentaryappearanceswetakeourselvestobe.Thereisan awareness which, like a mirror, reveals what is arising. For example, when we get up in the morningwecleanourteethandlookinthemirror.Whatweseeisourselves;whatwedontsee isthemirror.Thatistosay,weseethereflectionandwetakethereflectiontobeatrueaccount ofwhoweare.However,themirrornessofthemirror,itscapacitytoshowwhoweare,isnot determinedbytheimagethatisinit.Ifthatwasso,whenthefirstupinyourhouseholdwentto look in the mirror their face would get fixed into it so that the next person who went into the bathroom would see someone elses face and would not be able to see themselves. The very natureofamirroristhatitfillsitselfandemptiesitself,anditdoesthatbecauseitdoesnthave anyfixedcontentofitsown.Thatistosay,itistheemptinessortheopennessofthemirrorthat allowsittoshowmany,manydifferentimages.

Howcanwebeopentoeverythingthatoccurswithoutbeingoverwhelmed?
Since we were born each of us has been many, many different people: happy, sad, expansive, contracting,fullofjoy,fulloffearsandanxietiesandsoon.Thesestateswhichwereus,thatwe werefullyidentifiedwithandwhichwereextremelyrealinthemoment,werecontingent.Thatis tosay,theyaroseinrelationtootherthingsthatweregoingon.AsfarasIcantellwedonthave anycoreessence,athinginsideuswhichdoesntchangewithcircumstances.Ihavebeenlooking forthatforaverylongtimeandIhaveneverfoundit.Youcanalsolookforyourselftoseeifyou can find the thingness of yourself as an enduring entity. Moreover, that absence of a fixed defining essence is actually the potential to reveal ourselves, to be revealed as ourselves, by circumstances.Forexample,ifyoucometoameetingplacelikethisandyoudontknowanyone youmightfeelabitlonely,sadorintimidated,andthensomefriendlypersonsays,Hello,good morning,andyousuddenlyfeelabitbetter.Youfeelthewarmthoftheirgestureofconnection andyourmoodshifts.Isthatyourexperience?Howyouwerebefore,whichfeltexactlyhowyou were,whereyouwereperhapsthinking, OhgodwhydidIcomehere?suddenlychangedand you felt, Oh, this is ok. In this, we can see how momentary identification with states is the ongoingexperienceofhowweareintheworldwithothers.However,ifwetakeourselvesasa fixedpoint,likeafixedself,thenweendupfeelinglikeacorkonthewaveswhichisliftedupand droppeddownbyevents.Andthatisveryexhaustingbecausesomuchishappeningtousinthe course of a day. Therefore, how can we be open to everything that occurs without being overwhelmed,stressedoutandworndown?Thisisanimportantissueinmodernlifewhenthere aresomanydemands,somanyformsofcommunicationcomingatusallthetime. Fromthepointofviewofdzogchenthemainissueistorelaxandtoopen.Thismeanstoletgoof our tendency to overidentify, to concretise, to reify, and to take as permanent and reliable, experience which is actually ephemeral. You cannot catch the moment. Here we are together andIhavestartedtalking.Iwilltalkalittlebitmoreandthenthiswillbeoverandsomethingelse willbegin.Everchangingexperiencecannotbeblockedorfrozen.Earlieryouweresleeping.You www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

thenwokeup,thenyouhadpee,thenyouhadsomebreakfast,nowyouarehere,andsoonyou will be doing something else. This is our life. It is a continuous flow of experience which is ungraspableandinfinitelyvariegated. Onecommonresponsetothisistotrytoimposeasenseoforder.Ihavetobeincontrolofmy life.IneedtoworkoutwhatisgoingonandifpossibleIwanttomakeithappenonmyterms. However,thisgeneratesalotofstressbecause,ofcourse,wearenotinchargeofourexistence. Moreover, we cocreate our lives with other people; our very existence is participative and throughbeingpartofwhatisgoingonwefindourselvesrevealedtoourselves.Wedontexistas anythingbeforewemanifest.Wemightthink,Yes,butIhavelotsofmemories,Iknowwhatmy lifehasbeenandIknowwhatIamlike.However,thatisjustanidea.Wecouldgetintopairs and I could ask you to introduce yourselves to your partner and you would start to tell them something.Youmaytellthemwhereyouwereborn,whatyoudoorwhatkindoffoodyoueat. Thatistosay,youwouldconstructsomekindofstory.Youcoulddothatforfiveminutes,five hours or five years but would you get to the end of the number of stories you could tell about yourself?Evenwhileyouweretellingthemyourstory,thetellingofitisitselfisanewexperience soyouwouldthenhavetocommentontheexperienceyouarehaving,andthenwouldhaveto comment on the comment and so on. There is no end to storytelling. There is no end to thoughtorfeelingorsensation.Theseareceaselesswavesofstuffthatgoonandonandon.So, isthereawaytoavoidgettinglostinthis?

Remaininfiniteandopennotexistingasathing
Wehavetwopossibilitiesashumanbeings.Oneistobesmallandtheotheristobebig.Weall knowwhatitisliketobesmall;wegetahitbylife,wefeelabitcrushedandwestarttoshrink. Wefeelabitanxious,wedontwanttoanswerthephoneandmaybewedontwanttoopenour letters;wemightnotevenwanttogetoutofbeditallfeelstoomuch.Inthatexperience,the world seems very, very big and we are small; we are a thing and there are lots of things surroundingme,moreofthemthanme,andtheykeepwhackingintome.Everythingiscomingat usandwejustwanttosay,Goaway.Leavemealone.Thisisaterriblestatetobein.Fromthe buddhistpointofviewthiswayofexperiencingeventsexemplifiestheprimarydelusion:thatwe areathing,athingamongthings.ItseemsobviousthatIamavulnerablethingandthereforeI havetoprotectmyselfandincreasemybenefit.Duetothisbeliefwearealwaystryingtopush awaybadthings,tofindoutwhatisgoodforusandgetmoreofit.Wespendanawfullotofour livesdoingthis,checkingout:Isthisgoodforme?Isthisnotgoodforme?DoIlikethis?DoI notlikethis?Itgoesonandonandon. But what is this small self? We feel a bit afraid. What is that fear? It is something which is arising. It wasnt there before but due to specific causes and circumstances we are suddenly afraid.Inthismomentthefearseemstobewhowearebutwewerentlikethatbefore.Thatis to say, we lose ourselves into the moment so that each moment seems to define who we are. Thus, if we have a good day or a good spell in our life where everything goes easy we tend to think, Hey, not so bad. And then the causes and conditions change and life becomes difficult andwethink,Howcouldthisbepossible?Iwashappybefore.Ihavedonesomanyworkshops. I have done my yoga and meditation and yet now I feel like shit again. How can this be possible?Well...itispossiblebecausethereisnowallbetweenourselvesandtheworld;weare partoftheworld.Andsometimestheworldissmilingandsometimesitisnot.Dreadfulthings happenintheworldandifweareatallhumanwearegoingtobeaffectedbythat.Thequestion is:canwestayopentobeingmovedandchanged,whichistheaspectofparticipation,without beingblownhitherandthitheratthemercyofexperiences?Theanswertothatistoremainbig. Sowhatdoesthatinvolve? www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

Verybigmeansunlimited,infinite.Itmeansnotexistingasathingwhichhasabeginning,anend, a top and a bottom, which has a fixed shape. That is rather different to how we normally experience ourselves, yet we dont have to do anything special to avail ourselves to it. Our infinitenatureistherebyitself,itisnottheresultofanyeffortbyourselvesorothers.Weare here,alivesosimplyattendtothatimmediatepresenceofawarenessthatisouropenground, theeverpresentbasisofallourexperience.Simplybeaware,bepresentin,withandastheflow of experience. Observe how movement, a gesture in space and time is an expression or revelationofungraspablepresence.Ouropenpotentialshowsmanyforms,asselfandother,yet noappearancedefineswhoweare. However,oursmallselfisvulnerabletobeingdefinedbyothers,andindeedcravesdefinitionasa way of establishing identity. The ego develops itself through fusing with key events and developingasenseoffunctionallimit.Forexample,mostchildren,fromtimetotime,experience difficultiesatschool.Theycanfindthatsomesubjectsareabithardforthemandthisisoften distilled into a sense that I cant: I cant do languages, I cant do maths and so on. This beliefthenactsasthedefinitivestorylinewhichinfluencesallthechoicesthataresubsequently made. If we have grown up in a family where there wasnt much tenderness or love, then bleaknessandabandonmentbecomesaterritorythatwecanvisitagainandagain.Orwemay have had a lot of intrusion from other people and had to adapt to their demands. We can becomesocompliantthatitisdifficulttoworkoutwhoweare.Therearemanywaysinwhich wecangetoffbalanceinourinteractionswithotherpeopleandwithourselvesbecausewelook forafixedpointofbalance,areassuringcertainty,goodorbad.Howeverthepointofbalanceis everchanging in the dynamic field of emergent experience. We lose our fresh presence by maintainingstorylinesaboutourselveswhicharelimitingandpartial.However,becausetheyare habitual they seem to be expressing some deep and defining truth about ourselves, and so we tendtoclingtothemwithoutexaminingiftheyareaccurateorevenuseful. Thus we might take our present good health for granted. Yet inside us we have all kinds of incrediblycomplicatedsystemswhichcangowrong:wecouldhaveastroke,developcancerand soon.Ourpresentstatecaneasilychange.WhatwetaketobedefinitiveofwhoIam,thefixed beliefswhichweinhabit,isnotreliable.Allkindsofinternalwindsandexternalwindscanblowus around, for our identity is not an essence but a changing form manifesting within the dynamic causalfieldofappearance. SowhatisthestatusofthesestatementsItellmyselfaboutwhoIam?Dotheyreallydefinean essence?Oraretheypartsoftheongoingprocessofmeaningmaking,partswithwhichwehave becomeparticularlyidentified.Forexample,youmightthink,Idontlikemyselfverymuch,and Idontthinkotherpeoplewilllikeme.Thatbelief,thatidentificationwithconcepts,islikelyto makeyousociallyanxious.Youaregoingtoavoidopportunitiesbecauseyoubelievetheoutcome isalreadydetermined.Becauseofthepreoccupationwiththatstate,youprobablywontcheck out what is happening in the world. You dont really know whether people like you or not because it would be too scary to ask them. Imagining that they dont like you, you create a defensivebarrierofavoidance.Therootofallthispainfulandunnecessaryactivityisthebelief thatIamafixedandknowableentity. The view of dzogchen suggests that we simply release identification and, abiding in easy relaxation, see the creation of ourselves momentbymoment. Without interfering simply observealltheconstituentsofourbeingastheyariseandpass.Intheirflowtheymakeparticular patterns,abitlikeachildturningakaleidoscope.Somethingisthereandthen...turn...andthereis something different. Moreover, due to our conditioning, for most of us there are not many constituent parts; we have a repertoire of moves that, in their repetition, establish our fairly standard personality. The more we see the dynamic flow rather than fixating on our familiar www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

beliefs, we see how, according to circumstances different aspects of our personality come forwardaseachnewreformationofourselfcomesintobeing. Throughlookingclearlywestarttoseethatoursituationisdynamic.AllthatItakemyselfandmy world to be is changing in its phenomenological immediacy. Concepts create the illusion of continuity. Each moment is present yet ungraspable. Whatever I take any moment to be is transientandcontingent.Thusmyexistenceisnotsomethinginsidemethatcomesoutofme intotheworld.Actually,IdontknowwhoIamuntilIrevealmyselfinactivity,andeachtimeI appear, I am somebody new. This is amazing because it reveals our potential as forever free. Insteadoflookingtofind adefinitiverecipeinsideourselves,westarttoseethatwearecalled intobeingbythesituationsweparticipatein,thatwearetrulycoemergentwiththeother,that ourselfissomethingwhichispartofacobecomingwithotherpeople.Forexample,ifpeopleare warm towards us we become, we manifest, in a corresponding way, and if they are cold we becomeinadifferentway.Thereisnofixitytoourmanifestation.Thefactthatwearesoeasily influencedpointstothepossibilityofinfluencingothers,ofbehavinginawaythatelicitsthemost openandconnectedaspectsoftheother.Fromthebuddhistpointofviewthisistheaspectof compassion,anattitudewhichwarmstheworldthroughcontact. Aswebecomemoreopentootherpeopleweallfeelabitmorerelaxed.Graduallywecometo haveconfidencethatlifeiseasierwithoutprotectivebarriers.IfIcanonlymovetowardsyouif youfitintomymapoftheworldthenIamusingyoutoreaffirmmybeliefs.Yourhabitsconfirm myhabitsandtogetherweliveinalovelypaddedprison.Itmaybecomfortableforawhile,butit isfantasythatisrestrictiveandwhichwontlast.Here,atthisevent,peoplearriveatthefield, tentsgoup,somethingiscreatedforafewdays,andthenitisgone.Andthisisthepatternofour livesmomentbymoment.Weputupthetentofthemorning,takeitdownatnoonandputup thetentoftheafternoon.Thenintheeveningweputupthetentofsleep.Inthatwaywelivein eachoftheselittleenvironmentsasiftheyweretherealthing,andthentheyaregone.

Justbepresentwiththeworldasitisandourselvesasweare
Sowhoistheonewhoishavingthisexperience?Therearemany,manybuddhistteachingson thispointbutexperientiallyitisnotsodifficult,forthekeypracticeisjusttoobserveourselvesin theverymomentofbecomingourselves.Theonewhoisobserving,inordertoobserve,cannot haveanagenda.Itcannotbelookingforsomethingotherwiseitisonlygoingtofindwhatitis lookingfor.Therefore,theobserverhastorelax,letgoofallassumptions,receivewhatisthere andseeclearly. Thissimpletaskcanbeespeciallydifficultinourmodernworldbecausewetendtoberewarded forbeingactive.Fromanearlyageweareencouragedtobelievethatwehavetomakeourlives bydoingthings.Byfindingoutwhatisgoingonandcontrollingitweseemtovalidateourselves, strengthen our energy and create meaning. On the other hand, that very activity, because it is intentional,operatingwithinapreexistingframeofreference,installsaforeclosure.Wethinkwe arebeingopen,becauseweknowwhatwewant,butthiscarriesaclosure.Forexample,ifyou run out of flour while you are baking and you nip into a shop just to get flour, you are not interestedinanythingelseinthatshop.Itisveryimportantthatyougettheflouryettheshop has many other possibilities. In the same way, the more we become wedded to a particular pattern,aparticularshape,theselectiveattentionwhichmaintainsitistakenforgrantedandis difficulttorecognise.Therefore,thefirstthingistoexploreforyourselftherelationshipbetween relaxation and openness, and to practice receiving or seeing what is there. As long as we keep

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lookingforasuccessionofparticularthings,weblockoutthehappenstanceincidentswhichcan stopusinourtracksandeaseusfromourburdens. To observe ourselves is to adopt the stance of notknowing anything. The more you know, the morethatknowledgewilldeterminehowandwhereyoulook.Therefore,thepracticeissimply torelaxandbepresentwithwhatisgoingon.Thenwestarttoobservehowquicklywecloseour potentialdown,howquicklywegetcaughtupintheknotsandprejudicesandassumptionswhich giveusthesenseofthisishowIam.Forwearehabituatedtobelieveinsomething;wewant andneedtobesomething.Thus,lookingforourtrueself,lookingforourbuddhanature,looking tofindoutwhowereallyare,setsusoffonawildgoosechase.Thatistosay,itisalreadythe wrongkindofquestionbecauseitisassumingthatwhatwewillfindissimplyabetterversionof whowearenow:Itwillbemewithoutanxiety,withoutdepression,withoutworries.Iwilljust beamorecool,relaxedchilledversionofme. With that point of view we try to edit and improve our existing sense of self. There are many peopleofferingworkshopsonhowtoeditourstory,tointroducenewsymbolsintoitorenrichit with techniques and skills. However, we have to be very careful and see how easily we are seduced,enchanted,mesmerisedbystorylines.Byobservingourselveswithanopennessfreeof hopesandfearswestarttoseethemainpersonwhocheatsusisourselves.Forwhenwethink weareopentoseeingwhatisthere,weareactuallylookingforsomethinginparticular.Weare lookingforapproval,lookingtobegood,lookingtohaveanicestorytotellotherpeople,looking tomoveupthestagesofthepathsothatwecanberewardedbyotherpeopleandbeseenas beingaproperkindofperson.Therearesomanyculdesacsleadingoffthepathofopenness. Theyallhavethesamenature;theyseektofindsomethingthatcanbefound. Toopenandseewhatishereisthepuristformofphenomenology.Itisallowingtheworldtobe asitisandallowingourselvestobeasweare.Youcouldsaythatthisisthebasisofaprofound nonviolence.Althoughthedesiretodevelopourselvesandincreaseourgoodqualitiesseemsto beabeautifulintention,itisactuallyalimitingobscuration.Foreverytimewehaveanideaof who we should be and we try to become that idea, what we are actually doing is engaging in violenceagainsthowwearenow.Wearesaying:Iamnotgoodenough.Ishouldbedifferent fromthis.IwouldbebetteroffifIwassomebodyelse.Thus,ourhopeofbettermentstartswith anactofselfattack,tryingtotransformourselveswithoutevenseeingthenatureoftheonewe wanttotransform.Thehostilityofthisattitudereinforcesourdualisticstructure:Iamtakingup apositionagainstmyselfinordertorecreatemyselfinawaythatwillgetmoreapprovalfrom other people and myself. You can see how knotted that quickly becomes as assumption and effortenergiseeachother.Wearejustlikealittlemouseinacagegoingroundandroundonan exercisewheel.Thereisnoendtodevelopmentfortherearealwaysnewideasaboutwhowe shouldbe.Therefore,thekeythingistorelaxandopenandbepresentwithoneselfasoneis. Wewanttomoveoutofjudgement,outofaspiration,outofintention,andbejustlikeamirror, openandclear,revealingwhateveristherewithoutinterfering. Interfering, or the willtopower, the determination to make things happen the way we want themto,isnotabadqualitybutitneedstobeappliedintherightplace.Sharpknivesarevery useful in a kitchen, but you dont really want to meet a drunken teenager carrying one in the street at night, because that is the wrong place for a sharp knife. In the same way, having a determination to achieve something is the manifestation of our energy in the world, and if it is attuned through participation with others it can be very helpful. However, if you apply it to yourselftotrytodeterminewhoyouare,allyoudoisturnyourselfintoakindofclaywhichyou thenfindtobethewrongshape.Thenyouarecondemnedtoendlesslykneadingandsqueezing ittobringitintothepropershapebutthepropershapeforwhat?Theobserver,awareness, ourownimmediatepresenceisnotathing.Itisthegroundofmanifestationinthatitilluminates www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

allthatappears,yetitisitselfneveranappearance.Toseeourselvesistobeourselvesaspure being,whichisitselfinseparablefromyetneverconditionedbyourceaselessrevelationofbeing this,thenthis,thenthis. Weliveinaworldwithotherpeopleandwhatwecandoisdeterminedbyourownandothers ideas.Whatisoktodoattwentyisnotwhatyoucandowhenyouareforty,andwhenyouare sixtyyoucannotdowhatyoudidwhenyouwereforty.Ateachstageoflifewefunctionwithin systemsofexpectation.Evenwhenweresistothersexpectationsofuswestillactwithinlimiting, definingassumptions.Weliveinasocietywherewearegoingtohavealotofoldpeople,andyet we have a culture which is rather dismissive of old people, in which there is very little sense of howtobeold.Beingoldmeansknowingfirstofallthatyouarenotyoung:Iamnottwentyone anymoresoIcannotdowhatpeopleoftwentyonedo.Overthehill...pastmypeak...sunsethere Icome.Thiscouldbetakenasaninsultingdismissal,adenialofallwehavebeen,yetitisalsoan invitation to recognise that real changes have occurred. The seeming continuity of ourself as a core essence is an illusion that leads to grief when we experience that, I can no longer do the thingsIusedto.ItisasifbysayingIacontinuityofsubstanceiscreatedsothattheonewho coulddothemthenandtheonewhocannotdothemnowweretheselfsameperson.Yetthe past is gone, who we were no longer exists. What we are now is both the unconditioned opennessofourawarenessandthepreciseformofourcurrentmanifestation.Itisthenatural integrationofthesetwoaspectswhichisourbasicfreedomratherthantheillusionoffreedom embeddedinstrivingtomaintainaformwhosetimehasgone. Eachformisjustwhatitis,anillusory,ungraspablemanifestationthatcanbemanipulatedbythe controllingegooracceptedinopenpresencebyawareness.Eachseasonoflifeoffersthesetwo options.Acceptanceandparticipationwithwhatisactualisthebasisforpractice.Intheageing process,acceptanceofourseasonisfreedom.Thereissomethingtolearnineachseason.Outof thenothing,theemptinessofwinter,comesthefullnessofsummerwhich,inevitably,becomes the emptiness of winter. The pulsation between the turn towards form and the turn towards emptinessiscontinuous,witheachturnillustratingtheillusorynatureofeachaspect,fortheyare inseparableinnonduality.Theouterleveloftheseasons,theinnerchangesofourownageing, andthesecretfluctuationsofourthoughts,feelingsandsensationsarenotseparatedomains.All manifestationhasthesamegroundandthesamenature:emptyappearancelikerainbowsinthe sky,likesummermirages,likethereflectionsofthemoononwater. Autumnisaboutreception,itisaboutlettinggosothattheearthreceivestheleavesandfruit;it isaboutsinkingbacktothesource.Releasingthefixationonformisalsopartofthepracticeof meditation, as we leave the egos fantasy domain of the neverending growth of spring and summer.Theegocannevergetenough:themoreitsetsinmotionthemoreithastodo,abit likethestoryofthesorcerersapprentice.Inmeditationwemoveintoadifferentseason,away fromtheegosdesireforendlesssummerandintothespaciousnessofwinter.Thisistheterrain revealed by releasing and relaxing, emptying out our assumptions and letting go of all that we know.

Whatwecallourselvesisamovementofdialogue
ButwhowillIbeifIhavenothing?Wellthatiswhatwehavetofindout.ButIdontwantto investigatemyself,IjustwanttobethemeIknowIam!Why?BecauseIknowhowtodoit and because I know that it makes sense. That is the point where we decide to stay in our familiarhabitualnarrative,ourstoryline,which,again,iscosy.Itisnotbad,itcanbeuseful;itis justthatitislimited.Wewillneverexperienceourunlimitednatureifwekeepidentifyingwith www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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whatislimited.Thus,thereisakindoftrustthatisinvolvedinlettinggooftheforminorderto experienceourselvesasformless,asshapeless.Outofthisformlessnessmanyformsarise.Thisis the paradox that out of nothing comes everything, yet when we cling to something it keeps slipping away. It has always been like this. This is the fact of our lives; it is not some kind of abstracttheory. Forexample,youwereoncefiveandwhenyouwerefiveyoudidthingsyoudidntdolaterwhen youwereten.Andwhenyouwerefifteenyouwerentdoingthethingsyouweredoingatten. Eachofushasbeenthroughthat;wehavebeenmanydifferentpeople.Thatisafact.Now,you couldaddalltheseexperiencestogetherlayerafterlayerlikeahugelasagne:Thisismylife;this ishowitis,oronecanseeWhereamIalive?...onlyhere...onlynowinthistransientpointof infinite dissolving. It is happening momentbymoment. Something new is happening and all thathashappenedhasgoneandallthathasnthappenedyethasntarrived.Thatistosay,if westaywiththeimmediacyofexperienceratherthanelaboratinganarrative,weseethatallwe have is this moment. The very transience of all the things that have happened can help us see thatthismomentwillalsogo,andthatthereforethismomentcannotbeourtrueessence.This moment cannot define who we truly are, it can only show how, here and now, we are contextuallyrevealed. Our manifestation is the display or the movement of our energy in the world with others. But wheredoesitcomefrom?Youcouldsayfromgod,youcouldsayfromkarma,oryoucouldlook directly and see: where do you arise from momentbymoment? Where does this world come from?YoucouldstudyCharlesDarwinoryoucouldjustbepresentwithyourself.Everythingis happening but what is the ground of that happening? We wont get to it by a story because stories cover the ground in the very act of trying to reveal it. The world is full of stories about where we came from. Every culture has some kind of primordial foundation myth about gods comingdownonaladderorapieceofclaybeingbreathedintoandsoon.Morelocallywealso havethestoriesofourfamilies;ourparentsandgrandparents.Throughtherapywecancometo seehowourpersonalitieshavedevelopedwiththefamilymatrix.Thiscanhelpgenerateamore supportivestory.Butitisstillastory. Thequestion,then,istolookatthismomentandseewheredoesitcomefrom?Forexample,at themomentIamspeakingandwordsarecomingoutofme.Thereisnowordfactoryinsideme;I donthavealittlescriptthatIampullingoutofmytonguelikeakindofectoplasm.Iamspeaking withyou.HereIam,Ilookaround,Iseeyourfacesandthewordscomeoutofmymouthand afterawhiletheywillstop.Thatiswhatbeinghumanis.Wheredoesthiscomefrom?Itcomes fromourbeingtogether.Thewordsonlyhavemeaningifyouarehere.PerhapsIcouldbecome likeoneofthesedrivenpreachers,Icouldbringalongmysoapboxandputitinthefieldwiththe cowsandtellthemthegoodnewsandtheholytruth,buttheresnotmuchpointtothat.Thatis to say, we emerge in situations. And we can only do that if we are open to the situation; not having something to sell, not having an agenda. Of course, we have many microagendas and theyarepartofthemixbuttheycanalsolimitourintentionandavailability.Byopeningtoallthe availableingredients,allthepotentialresources,wecanrelaxandallowthecoemergenceofself andotherastemporarygestures.Ifwestarttoexperiencetheimmediacyandunpredictabilityof our coemergence with the environment, the actuality of the nonduality of self and other, subject and object, then we dont need to be so afraid, for we see that it is not all up to us. Actually,otherpeoplewillgiveuswhatweneed.Theygiveusasmileoranodorafrownandwe arethereinthatmomentwiththem. There is an enormous loneliness in living inside oneself. Our education and human culture generally encourages a kind of mentalisation, a sense that we live inside ourselves, maybe, indeed,inourheadsasabunchofideas:IhaveamentalexistenceandIhavetoworkouthow www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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tomoveoutfrommyselfintotheworldwhereyouguysliveyouguysarealreadyouttherein theworldbutIaminme.Thatiswhatmostofusexperience:welookoutofoureyes,welisten outofourears,toallthisstuffwhichisalreadygoingon,withthefeelingofhowdowegetinto it? This is, of course, an illusion. In buddhism this is the foundational illusion of believing in the essentialdualityofselfandother,subjectandobject.Thatistosay,thesenseofwehasbeen torn apart by the habit of ignoring what is there and assuming a fundamental separation and differencebetweenmeandyou.Thisleadsuseachtoapreoccupationwithourownideas,our owninternalstuff.Actually,weareallinthistogether;wearebornintotheworldaspartofthe world; we are always participating in being with others. And therefore, how we are, including whatwetaketobeinsideourselvesourthoughts,feelings,sensationsandsoonarecreated outofthepresenceofothers.Ifyougooffforawalkonyourowninthewoodsthingswillbe arising, as it were, internally, but they arise in relation to something else. Perhaps there are memoriesofbeingtherebeforewithafriendwhoisnottherenow.Thereissomestoryofthis andthat,andcertainfeelingsarise.Thatistosay,youareininteraction;wedonthaveasingular self.Whatwecallourselvesisamovementofdialogue,amovementofenergygoingoutand energycomingin.

ThreeAameditation
Iwillnowshowyouaverysimplyformofsittingwhichcanopenupsomeofwhatwehavebeen talkingabout.Thefunctionofthepracticeistointegratestillnessandmovement,andbecause we tend to be caught up in movement a lot of the time, in the practice we tend to privilege stillness.Thisdoesntmeanthatmeditationisprimarilyaboutaretreatorwithdrawal;ratheritis toexplorethesiteorthepointfromwhichyouhaveexperience. Atfirstwesitinaquietwaybutafterawhileyoucancontinuethisasyouaremovingaround, participatinginwhateverishappening:talking,eatingandsoon.Thepracticeisnotaboutdoing something different but rather awakening to your own nature. The whole function of this practiceisnottomakeanythingartificial;ratheritistofindanaturalpointofrelaxedopenness which allows whatever is occurring to occur without interference. With whatever appears, includingallthatyoutaketobeyourself,letitbeasitis. Youcantrythiswithyoureyesopenorclosed.However,generally,wedoitwithourgazeopen intothespaceinfrontofus.Ifyoucloseyoureyesitcangivethesenseofbeing,asitwere,in oneself,asifthisiswhoIam.Whereas,whatIhavebeenattemptingtosharewithyouisthat who we are is all of this together; all that is occurring momentby moment is happening all at once.Forthisreason,inthistradition,weusuallydothepracticewithourgazeopen.Wearenot staringatanythingbutourgazeisgentlyfocusedabouttwoarmslengthinfrontofus.Weease ourselvesintothespacesothatwearenotstaringoutandwearenotgoinghazy.Wearejust relaxedandopen.Andthen,toreleasethetensionsandthewaysinwhichwearecaughtupin identificationwiththoughtsandfeelings,wejustmakeaneasysound,usuallymakingthesound, Aa.Youcandoitonthesilentoutbreathifyouareatworkandyouneedsomespace,buthere wecanmakethesoundAathreetimes. Aa in the tradition represents openness, the nature of the mind and the ground of all the buddhas.Itreleaseseverythingwithoutestablishinganything.Aaasasoundisheldtobethe basis of all other sounds. In the Sanskrit and Tibetan alphabets all the consonants take Aa as theirvowelandsothereisasensethatallwordsandconstructionsarisefromit.Thus,Aaisthe www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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pointofelaborationintoalllanguage,allwords,allnaming,butalsothepointwheretheycanall becollapseddownintosilence.AndthatiswhatwedoaswesayAa;weletallourconstructions dissolveintoemptiness.Alltheentitiesoftheworld,includingourselves,areheldinplacebyour own mental activity. Actually they are empty of inherent selfnature; they have no internal definingessence.Whenthemindisstillthereisonlyspaceandclarity.Thisopenemptinessis theinfinitywithinwhichallmovement,allexperience,isalwaysalreadyintegrated. AfterwehavemadethesoundofAawejustsitinanopenway,relaxedwithwhatevercomes.If itseemslikebusinessasusual,yourusualthoughts,justopentothem,dontcollapseintothem andfollowthembecausethatisalreadyanactivity.Asmuchaspossible,allowwhatisarisingto come and go. This includes all that arises for our senses, and all thoughts, sensations, feelings. Thekeypointistoobservemovementasmovement.Ifathoughtcatchesyou,forexample,ifyou aresuddenlyawareofthewallandyouenterintothethoughtsthatariseaboutit,theywilltake youonalittlejourneywithoutactuallygoinganywhere.Assoonasyourecognisethatthishas happened, just stay present with that fact and some space will open up. We enter into worlds createdbythejuxtapositionofthoughts,feelings,sensationsandperceptions,andeachofthese transient,captivatingworldsisinflow.Thus,itisnotthatwearetryingtoemptythemind,asthe empty mind is constantly emptying and constantly filling. Without resisting the patterning, withouttryingtomaintainanyparticulardirection,wejustsitateaseallowingourexperienceto behoweveritis.Letusdothisforashortperiodoftime,maybetenminutesorso.

Recognisingtheintegrationofstillnessandmovement
Inpracticinginthisway,wearenotattemptingtoshapethemindinaparticulardirection.For example, if you do shamata or vipassana meditations, that is to say, calming the mind or developing insight into the arising and passing of experience, there is a particular intention whereinyouareouttotrytodosomething,tobecomemorecalmormoreclear.However,the difficulty with intention, as I was indicating earlier, is that it means there is a kind of formalism whichtakesover;oneisshapingoneselftowardssomething.Thegoodideabecomesatemplate that we then strive to align ourselves with. However, most of us live in the complexity of unregulateddailydemands.Wearenotlivinginamonasterywhereyoucansitformanyhoursa day in a particular ritualised way. We have to be in interaction with other people in all their unpredictability.Therefore,ifweprivilegeakindofstillnesswhichisonlyachievedbyseparating from what is going on, by renouncing the situation, we then find the world to be quite problematic.Andofcoursemanypeoplewhogoonmeditationretreatsexperiencethat.While theyareonretreateverythingiscalmandclearbutthentheycomebackintotheworldandthey find themselves feeling disturbed, in fact perhaps defiled, because everything seems almost contaminatedcomparedtothepurityofasacredspace. However, the mind itself cannot be contaminated. Awareness is not polluted by anything that occurs.Justaswithamirror,itisnotmadehappybyhavingsomethingbeautifulputinfrontofit nor made sad or disturbed by having something ugly put in front of it. Whatever arises in awarenessjustpassesthrough.Itdoesntleaveanytrace.However,whateverarisesforusasa persondoeshaveanimpactanddoeshaveatrace.Thus,thevitalthingistoseethedifference between your participative consciousness, that is to say, the way in which you process your experience,andthebasicawarenesswhichrevealsthisexperience.Tobehumanistobehappy andsadandsoon;itwouldbetragicnottohavethatexperience.Ifyougotoholyplaceyoucan seeholypeoplebeingholyandwhattheyhaveisaholylife.Thatistheirchoice,onethatcarries advantagesanddisadvantages.Butyoucanalsohaveanordinarylife;youcanwatchtelevision, eatapizza,oryoucanrunaroundandcausemayhem.Thekeythingistoseetheactualnatureof whatisoccurring.Ifyouaregood,ifyouarebad,whatistheactualqualityofthat?Itisactivity. www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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It is movement. Our activity displays our energy, our movement it does not define who we really are. This is because our ground, our source, our being, our essence, is an unborn, ungraspable openness. Our movement is important only in terms of its impact on others. It doesntestablishanythingbeyondthemomentofitsappearance.Totrytomakethemindnot move, where mind is understood as being composite, the sum of all that I am, is impossible, ridiculous. However, a lot of meditationtechniques aimatthisgoal.Foralthough themind as awarenessisalwayscalm,themindasmanifestation,asthought,feeling,sensation,experience,is alwaysmoving. Movement is the quality of compassion; we go out towards the world and the world comes towards us. We experience both world and self simultaneously. But who is the experiencer of theflowofthatcompassion?Thisistheminditself,likethemirror.Themirrorneverchangesbut theformationofourselvesintheworldwithothersischangingallthetime.Therefore,totryto stop your thoughts, to try to get them to be like orderly sheep going one after the other is a practicewhichrequiresahugeamountofeffortandcannotreallygoanywhere.Thisisbecauseit canonlybemaintainedforawhileundercertainconditions,andwhentheconditionschangeit stopshappening.Itisveryliberatingtoseethis. Thereisaconceptinbuddhism,dependentcoorigination,whichmeans,simply,onthebasisof this,thatarises;thiseventandthateventarealwayslinkedtogether.Selfandotherarenot two separate worlds. For example, people insult us and we feel angry or upset or people are sweettousandwefeelwarmandconnected;thatisjusthowitgoes.Thesearethepulsationsof life.Itislikeapontoonbridge.Assoonasyouputyourfootononebitanotherbitmoves.Itis constantly like that. The idea that you could stabilise it would be impossible; pontoon bridges move,thatiswhattheydo.Thewholeofexistenceisaninteractivefieldnothingstandsapart oralone. Therefore,recognisingmovementasmovementallowsustoseethedifferencebetweenstillness andmovement,andalsotoseethatthetwoareintegrated,thattheyareinseparable.Theyare differentbutinseparable.Ifyoutrytogetthebitthatisstilltomove,itisnotgoingtohappen, andifyoutrytogetthebitthatmovestobestill,itisalsonotgoingtohappen.So,beingclear aboutthedifferencebetweenstillnessandmovementisveryimportant. Thus,whenwesit,movementisoccurring,andthatsfine.Wedonthavetoblockit.Whatwe start to see is how there are different levels of movement. For example, a thought arises and thenwehaveareactiontoit.Ifwelikethethoughtwewanttohangontoitorwefallintoitand gointoalittlestoryforawhile.Andifwedontlikeit,orthinkthatweshouldnthaveitinour mind,wetrytopushitawayanddisidentifywithit.Thesereactionsarealsomovement.The movementofthiseditorial,selfdefiningaspectofourexistenceisnotwrong,justperhapsalittle unnecessary,foritisgroundedintheideathatIamtheonewhowilldeterminewhathappensto me.Iamtheoneinchargethisfeelsnormal,asifitistrue.Yetitisjustanothermovement withoutessenceorfixedplacetostand.Thereisnotadefinitemewhoisinchargeofmylife,a mewhocanconstrainwhatisgoingon.Thisisevenclearerifyouhavekids,foryourlifeisnever goingtobeyoursagain;youaregoingtogetmovedhereandthere.Toparticipateistobepartof somethingandthatmeansnotbeinginchargeofitfromthetop,butalsonotbeingsubjugatedby it,buttobeinit.Youareinthemorass,youaremovingwithit,aspartofit.Thatisthenatureof movement.

www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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Wisdomandcompassion:anaturalaestheticofconnectivity
To require movement to be still and orderly is a kind of insanity. Rather, we can simply allow movement to arise as it does so that we experience its ephemeral beauty. Thus the organising principlebecomesnotcontrolbutouraestheticappreciation.Fixedpositionsandsolidbeliefsare a kind of anaesthetic, they put us to sleep and lull us with dreams of the egos power and knowledge. Awakening is a return to the aesthetic, to the immediacy of the senses, to the richnessofexperience.Stayingopentowhatis,revealsanewsenseofbeauty,notasaquality present or not in the object, but as a mode of being, the richness of engagement with the unedited field. In the tradition this is referred to as the sambogakaya, the body or sphere of enjoymentofeverything. Asourfearoftheworldlessens,weopentoamoreattunedattentiontohowotherpeopleare. Thisattentionallowsustobemoreprecise,moreexquisite,inourrelationwithothers.Weare thennothavingtopulltheminorpushthemawayaccordingtoourmapofhowthingsshouldbe; weacceptthatotherpeopleareastheyareandworkwiththat.Thenthequestion,HowwillIbe withthem?becomescreative,openingusagainandagaintoourinfinitepotential.If,however, westicktoaverynarrowrepertoireofmoves,therewillbealotofpeoplewewontwanttobe with because we cannot strut our stuff with them: I cant boogie because they dont play my tune.Thatisthegenerallimitationofbeingoveridentifiedwithwhatwetaketobethefixityof ourpersonality. Thetaskthenistoliveinthevibrantactualitywherewisdomandcompassionarelinkedtogether. Inthesittingpractice,themoreweallowthewildfrontiersofourmindtoberevealed,themore we start to see how really strange we are and see the kind of weird shit that is moving around inside us. When we are not frightened by that, that acceptance loosens us up so we are more able to make diverse moves in the world with other people. We then start to be able to meet peopleastheyare,andrespondintothesituationasitis.Forexample,ifyouhangoutwithkids youdowhatkidsneedyoutodo.Then,ifyouspeakwithadultsoryouspeakwithelderlypeople, yourmodeofbeingchanges.Youspeakindifferentwayswithangrypeopleandwithsadpeople. That is to say, each of these interactions can allow us to come forward, to manifest into the situation with a fine tuning which is not an act of will but is just the natural aesthetic of connectivity.Itisnotsomethingyouhavetodobutratheraneasyflowofemergencerevealed by putting yourself in the way of it. And we do that by releasing all the intentions, plans and opinionsthatareourhabitualsiteofoperating,andtrustthatouropenpresenceinthemoment willbeenough. Thus,themorerelaxedweare,themoreatease,themorefinelyattunedwebecome.Andthe harder we try hard, the more we set agendas for ourselves, agendas that create a kind of blinkeringorforeclosure.Thisbringsanarrownessthatagainandagaininstallsthewilltopower, thedesiretocontrol,tohavethingsonourterms.However,themoreweseethatweareopen, wehavelesssenseofourtermslifeisasitis.Ifyougooutandhaveapicnicwithkidsyoudo whateveryonewantstodo.Sometimesyougetyourwayandsometimestheygettheirway;that ishowitmoves.Itispulsationisntit?Itsnotanattemptatselfabnegation.Andpartofitisto knowwhentohaveyourwayandwhentoletotherpeoplehavetheirway.However,thereisno rule book that will show you how to do that, it comes through your belly, through being connected. Forexample,ifyouareinagroupandyouarespeaking,howdoyoufindtherhythmofknowing whentospeak?Veryoftenifpeopleareintheirownheadstheyaresopreoccupiedwithwhat they want to say that they interrupt other people and then get a negative reaction. Then they www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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mightsay,Well,whatisthepointofmetryingtotalkasyouguysdontwanttolisten!Well, wewilllistenbutsomeoneelsewastalking.Yeah,itisalwayslikethat!!Anditisalwaysgoing to be like that if we cannot find the door, find the moment. Finding the moment, being in the pulse,beingintherhythmisrevealedthroughnotdefendingourselvesagainstit.Andthereisa basictrustinthat;thatthereisenoughtogoaround,thattherewillbetimeforeveryoneifwe bideourtime. Whenwelosethepulseandswirlinourselfpreoccupationthereisoftenadrivennessthatisa kindofanxiety:Whataboutme?WillIgetwhatIneed?However,themorewerelaxandopen weseethattheonewhoneedssomethingisatemporaryarising.Forexample,whenyouwake upinthemorningyouneedtohaveapee.Youthenhaveapeeandyoudontneedtohaveone againforawhile;itisjustlikethat.However,whenyouneedtohaveapeeitisagoodideato haveapee.Thatistosay,thereisanimmediacyintheworldbutthereisnotruthinit.Itdoesnt establish anything. Most of what we do doesnt establish anything. If you have kids, they are changing and growing and you are changing and growing and that is what it is. It goes on for someyearsandthentheygoawayandthatiswhatitis.Whatwasitallabout?Itwasntabout anything;thereisnodoggiebag,thereisnothingtotakehomeattheendoftheexperience.All youhavegotiswhetheryouwerethereornot,becauseifyouwerethereyougotit.Ifyouwere there with them when they were very small you get that, and all through the stages, if you are there,thatiswhatyougetandifyouarenotthereyoudontgetit.

Stayingwiththerawingredients
Lifeisnotatheory;itisnotconceptuallybased.Itisabouttaste,itisaboutthesenses.Sowhatis it then that allows us to be most in that state? It is not striving, not anxiety, not pushing but finding ourselves where we are, which is already in it, however it is. And the value of each moment as it is, is revealed through being there in that moment, not by making it special. Specialisaveryunhelpfulnotionbecausespecialisrelatedtonotspecial.Therefore,ifyoumove towards the world with a categorisation, with an organising principle which is attributing value, whatyouwillthenbedoingislookingforthethingswhichhavethatparticularvalue.Thus,itis aboutbeingwithwhatthingsare,beingwithhowitis,withyourbodyasitis,yourhealthasitis, youremotionsastheyarejustbeingopentothat. Therefore,ifyouaredepressedyoucanbedepressed.ButIdontwanttobedepressed.Well, the fact of not wanting to be depressed doesnt stop the depression. It might get you some antidepressants but they probably wont shift the structure of your depression. If you are depressed you can be with it. What is depression? It is something which moves in space and time.Itisamood.Andifyoustaypresentwithityoucanexperienceitasmovement.Butifyou try to separate from it, it becomes something that gets you. It becomes an impediment, a monkey on your back, and you feel oppressed by it. However, it is you, when you are depressed. So this is how I am. What is this? If we attend simply and openly to the point of restriction we will see that the form moves and changes while the one who attends, if relaxed, openandfreeofpersonalbias,remainsasungraspableawareness.Thesameapplieswhenyou are happy. To enquire what is happiness? doesnt mean writing an essay about it for it is revealedbyofferingnonidentificatoryhospitalitytoit. This goes back to the image of the mirror, in that the mirror is completely open to whatever is there.Itisnotlimitedorbiased,itneversays,Ihavehadenoughofthis.Moreover,everything will go by itself. The Buddhas basic teachings, the most basic and perhaps the most profound teachings,areaboutimpermanence.Thatistosay,whateverisarisingisalsopassing.Whether we think an experience is external or internal, it is changing. And because every experience is www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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alwayschanging,eachmomentisungraspable.Thereforegraspingnotveryuseful.Thatispretty obvious. However, we spend so much of our lives trying to shape events as a means of appropriation,tryingtogetwhatwewant.Ofcourseweneedtoshapethings.Ifyouaregoingto cookapizzayouneedtoshapeit.Ifyouaregoingtobakeacakeyouneedtoshapeit.Ifyouare goingtotalkwithkidsandhelpthemdotheirhomeworkyouhavetoshapethattime.Itisnot shaping that is wrong in itself, for shaping is a dynamic way of interacting with the field one inhabits.However,ifweuseourabilitytoinfluencewhatisoccurringasamethodofgenerating my sense of who I am then we become overcontrolling. By focusing on our own agenda our attitudebecomesselfreferentialandsotoomuchisatstakeineverysituation.Thisistryingto squeezebutteroutofthecow;thecowwillgiveyoumilkthenyouhavetodosomethingwiththe milktomakethebutter.Thatistosay,ifyouwanttoelaboratesomebigstoryforyourselfyou can do it but the universe doesnt give you that directly. The universe gives you the raw ingredients. If you stay with the raw ingredients of immediate experience, infinite possibilities open up. However,ifyouarealwaysalreadyapplyingyourownfixedrecipetowhateverfreshingredient occurs, your diet will become very limited and not many people will be able to eat with you. Whenweareretractandbecomerigid,disappointmentgivesusarealwhack,butwhenwerelax into our spaciousness, disappointment is just a transient moment with no fundemental impact. Good times come and go and bad times come and go. Happiness comes and sorrow comes. Everypossibleeventlieswithinthecomingandgoingoftheflowofexperience.Wearenotthe contentofourmindandyetweareinseparablefromthecontentofourmind.Thecontentofour mindisexperience,itisnotselfdefinition,itisnotessence.Thus,ifyouhavebadtimes,these bad times dont define who you are. If you get a bit crazy for a while or you feel collapsed or worthlessandlifelosesitsmeaning,ifyoucanrelaxandbepresentwithwhatshappeningitwill passwithlessofatrace. Therefore,itisveryimportantnottofeeltooincharge.Theworstpunishmentyoucangetinlife istofeelthatItisalluptome.Thatisaverysadandlonelyplace.Actually,ourlifeisrevealed throughbeingwithothers.Ourlifecomestous;itisgiventouswhenwemakethegestureof welcomingit.Andsometimesthatishappyandsometimesitissadbutitisarevelation;itisnot athingyoucanhangonto.Thisisreallythebasicheartofthedzogchenteachings;thatthereare no things, there are only moments of ungraspable experience arising within the open field of awareness. And the more we see that we are integrated in open spaciousness the more the momentsarefinejustastheyare.Thatisthebasics.

Questionsandresponses
Arethereanythoughtsorquestionsyouwouldliketoraise? Question:Sometimestherejustseemstobeanaspectofyourselfthatisyou,likeyouweresaying earlier.Itisveryeasytosnapbacktosomethingyouknowthatyouareverycomfortablewith. Howdoyoudealwiththosekindofpersistent,letssay,aspectsofyourselfthatdocomeoutin yourbehavioursometimesanditslike:Oh...itisyouagain? James:Thatisaveryhelpfulquestionbecausetherearetwoaspectsthere:somethingisarising andthenthereisaninvestmentinit,anidentificationwithit.Forexample,withsomethingwhich seemsafamiliarpartofoneself:Iamjustbeingme,thereisakindofmergingintothethought andasealingoff:ThisdefineswhoIam.Withoutstoppingbeinglikethat,justbybeingpresent withitratherthancollapsedintoit,youstarttoexperienceitsdynamicnature.Thatistosay,the www.simplybeing.co.ukJamesLow

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feeling, This is me, is both true and false. It is true in that this is how I am now in these circumstances,butitisnottrueinthatthisitdefineswhoIreallyam. Thus,inthesecondaspectthereisanoverinvestment,thesenseoffusion:NowIhavefound myselforThisiswhatIamcomfortablebeing.Peopleoftensay:Oh,Iamnotcomfortable doingthat.However,alotoflifeisnotcomfortable.Andifyoumakecomfortorhappinessthe basisofyourexistencethereisalotyouhavetogetridof.Itismorehelpfultoconsider,What amIsittingon?Whatisthegroundorbasisofmyexistence?Ifitisathought,yousitinitfora whilebutthenitvanishesandyouarestuckintheairlikeoneofthosecartoonswheretheguy runsoffthetopofacliffandhislegskeeprunningtillhesuddenlyfalls.Thatistosay,whatever wefusewithisnotgoingtolast.However,itisnotthatwecanpushexperienceawayandhave nothingtodowithit.Nordoesitmeanwehavetobecompletelyfusedinit.Itisaboutfinding themiddlewayofbeingpresent,relaxedandopenandworkingwithhowweareinthemoment inthissituation. Forexample,saythatyoufindthatsomethingiseasytodo,butthenlateritseemsmoredifficult. And when it is difficult it is just difficult. You might well feel that, I dont like this, I preferred howmylifewasbefore.Atthatmomentyouhavegoneupinahelicopter;youareupinyour abstract conceptualisation: I have got an overview: yesterday was good and today is bad. I dontwantthis,Ineedtohavesomethingelse.Thenyoucanactivateallthemethodsyouknow inordertochangethesituation,andthen...Ah,thisisbetter!However,whatyouhavedoneis tosay,IamonlysafeifIamartificial.Icannotinhabitmylifeasitis;Icanonlyinhabitthe aspectsIlike.Thatislikebeingafussykidoffivewhowillnoteattheirdinner.Parentsstruggle in different ways to deal with that situation, but if they get into saying: OK you can have fish fingerseverydayoftheweekandforbreakfasttoo,thatmaynotbesohelpful.Forifthechild goestosomeoneelseshousewherethehostdoesnotwanttocookfishfingers,whatisthekid goingtodo?Itisexactlythesamestructureisntit?Therefore,itisquiteamovetoacceptand indeedwelcomethingsthatfromourhabitualpointofview,accordingtooneaspectofourselves, wedontwanttowelcomebecausewethink:Thisisntme.Thisdoesntfit.Idontlikeit.Itis bettertorelaxandbeflexiblebecauseouromnipotenceisnotgoingtolastverylong. Question:Howdoesyourbodychange,howdoesitfeelfromyourexperience? James:Thebody? Participant:Yesasyouexperienceityourselfasyoupractice. James:TherehasbeenamovefromasensethatmybodyissomethingthatIhave,tomybodyis somethingthatIam,tonotreallyhavingabody;thatthebodyispartofmybeingintheworld. SowhatIcallmybodywillbeinfluencedbyallsortsofthings.Forexample,Iamsittinginthis particular chair which is a bit wobbly and so my back is not very supported. Therefore, I experiencemypostureinaparticularway;somemusclesaretensinganditisnotsoeasytokeep mychestopen.Thatiswhathappens;whereverweare,wearecomfortableoruncomfortable, supportedornotsupported,andthatisanaspectofourbeingabodyinaworldofforms. IfIhaveanotionofhowIwantmybodytobethenImightgetveryangryaboutthechair,feeling that it is attacking me. Or, I can experience: This is how my body is in this kind of chair. I wouldntnecessarilywanttositinthischairforeverbutitalsoshowsthatthechairandthebody are in the same world and that wherever we go our body is going to be moulded by circumstances.Forexample,whenyoumeetpeoplehere,yourbodymightrelaxandopenorit mighttenseupifyouareabitwary.Thatkindofshiftishappeningallthetime,apulsingtoand

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frolikeseaweedinthewaves,openingandclosing.Inthisway,mybodyisnotsomethingthatI havebutitispartofthedynamicfieldofexperiencethatisunfoldingasmyexistence. Within the nondual field of emergence we experience the rhythms of ourselves and of others. Sometimesourmusicisplayingandtheotherpersonisdancingtoit,andsometimestheirmusic isplayingandwedancetothat.Italternates,flows,pulsates.Soweneedaqualityoffinesseto be present in the moment as we interact or cobecome with the other. If you dont have too muchinnerlonelinessorhunger,youcanhearthe rhythmoftheotherandcantrustthattheir musicisfineforawhile,andthenyourmusiccancomeforward.Thereisenoughspaceforthe movement of leading and following to occur, and this frees us from the desperation of What aboutme? Wearejustaboutattheendofourbrieftimetogetherhere.Maybewecouldjustsitquietlyfora little, and we can do that on the basis of relaxing into the deep out breath. We dont need to makeanysound,andthusthisissomethingyoucandoinanysituation.Justrelaxintotheout breathandbewithhowthingsare.

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