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my practice has been undergoing a shift lately. I’ve tried following the instructions the Sakyong was giving to our community, although I haven’t really resonated deeply with them yet.
These instructions seem to come from a more sutra oriented approach, rather then the more vajrayana tinted instructions that the Vidyadhara was giving. It has been a cause of frustration and confusion for me for some time, until it became clear they are actually a different practice.
We still call it shamatha, but the view, goal and method are quite different. It is much more goal oriented practice, with more emphasis on stabilization, concentration, continuing mindfulness. sometimes that’s a relief - I remember one teacher saying, whew, you mean it’s ok to have a goal? The goallesness (i’m sure this is not a word) or the Vidyadhara’s approach can be difficult sometimes, especially, since for most of us, we do have a goal, we want to improve, have less confusion, and that’s perfectly fine. Which is what the Sakyong has been saying: before having a path without a goal, you need a path with goal.
However, I’ve realized that for my own practice, I’ve again tried to fit myself into something, try to live up to an expectation or an idea of how practice should go. Doing this my mind inevitably tightens, cutting me off from natural intelligence that’s always there. so, for the last few days, when I’ve sat down to sit, my view and instruction is just to be there. Nowhere to go, nothing to attain, nothing to do. Just experience what is here. My mind is sloppy, grumpy in the early morning. fine, just let it be that way. How is that actually? Thinking a lot? Great, let’s experience that. Gave myself permission to think as much as i want. Doing this I felt my mind relax and become much sharper. Allowing myself to do this made me catch myself thinking much quicker. And thinking becomes much less interesting. Less aggression, mind is softer and intelligence can come out. Curiosity. Much bigger space.
Mind that is relaxed within itself is actually joyful to be with. No particular need to escape into thoughts.
Interestingly, that is what the Sakyong says are some of the discoveries we make - that the mind is in its nature joyful, clear and precise. We become familiar with what our mind truly is. Shamatha becomes peaceful abiding.
But for me it comes not through tight practice, with more focused concentration, but more with letting go, being gentle and spacious and curious. with no agenda whatsoever, except just being here. trusting my own wisdom.