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Teacher: Rodney Smith
Date: 2003-07-21
Venue: Seattle Insight Meditation Center



Exercise one: Ask yourself what you understand about the dharma—not what is intellectually satisfying but what you truly understand. For instance, do you understand how suffering arises? Do your actions demonstrate this wisdom? How deep is this truth? How far has it reached into your cells?

Take a point of dharma that you frequently hear in talks but is not sufficiently integrated. For example, dharma talks speak about the pure, clear mind of awareness and nonjudgmental acceptance. Have you experienced this firsthand or is it a conceptual understanding? First know the difference between the two forms of knowledge. How will you go about understanding dharma issues more directly? Is thinking about them sufficient? Take the issue you select and attempt to experience it firsthand. For example, what is the mind like when it is free of judgment, and what is it like when it judges? Which mind is clearer and therefore more accessible to wisdom? Work with the dharma point all week and notice how wisdom arises naturally from interest and bare attention.

Exercise two: When you sit in meditation, notice how the noise of thought seems to keep you away from the breath. Observe how “you” are very present, struggling to get back on your breath. You may believe you are struggling with the thinking to return to the breath, but the struggling is actually creating more thought that does the opposite. You are working against wisdom. Watch the defenses against silence (emptiness) arise when you are able to be with the breath. Notice your boredom, restlessness, and desire for stimulation. These are mental states that keep “you” being “you” and ward off the wisdom of seeing clearly. Be careful not to struggle with even these states of mind. Attempt to open and include all states of mind. To open is the opposite of struggle and therefore in alignment with wisdom. The mind is very tricky and there is a proper place for wise effort.  But does that effort have to be so forceful and striving? This week examine the differences and linkage between forced effort, opening to a mind state and the noise of the mind.

TalkID=747 SeriesID=17,32

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