Understanding Sati and Samadhi in Meditative Practice

When mindfulness (sati) is continuous, then (samadhi) STABILITY OF MIND will become established–from the teachings of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, a Theravadan Buddhist monk and well-known and highly respected meditation teacher.

Deeper and deeper into the teachings of Buddhism, there is this ‘me’ attempting to walk in the steps of the Buddha.  No, this is not about religion–more about psychology . . . study of the mind.  We all have one but how many of us really observe how the mind works?  How to use the mind in a way that serves the greater good, so-to-speak.  That’s where I’m coming from.

Recently, a new level of understanding and wisdom arrived within my life spectrum, this continuation of consciousness.

Anyone who knows of this ‘me’ probably knows of the difficulty experienced due to moving from places of quiet and solitude for nearly 20 years.  The short version has to do with the difficulty adjusting to suddenly being around noisy humans and family drama.  Moving closer to my daughters has been wonderful in so many ways, but not without the challenges that come along with sudden change.  Here’s what I’m trying to get at . . .

Until my recent study, it wasn’t entirely clear to me that the states of Samadhi established in meditation could be maintained during regular activities of daily living,  outside of a formal meditative state–in other words, off the cushion.  Yet, while living in the mountains many times was there in a stable mind-state without knowing it.   I’ll explain more in a moment.  Additionally, in recent days my study has uncovered another real eye-opener. And that has to do with percentages of attachment equaling the same percentage of aversion.  Here’s what that means . . .

The attachment that has been present to a personal desire and preference for silence has been way too strong or large.  As a result, the aversion or anger to it’s opposite (loud neighbors) has been equally as strong.  It goes back to the basic core phrase we always hear, “Accepting what ‘is'”.  It’s not so easy to accept anything as it is when you have a high percentage of attachment to its opposite.

Of course, there are other factors that filter into the equation of imbecile aversion which include a high level of sensitivity that comes along with open awareness.  Making peace with it while maintaining a stable mind is my continual challenge and the area of focused work in this life.

When living in the mountains, days on end of samadhi, stable mind, occurred — it was as if living in my own hermitage or retreat center.   It is only now that the realization comes that when the mind was pulled into worry about finances or when going into town and mingling with humans that the state dissolved and aversions and defilements arose within the mind. I didn’t think of it as samadhi at the time.  My personal definition of that word involved deep stillness (not necessarily awareness) in which there was no awareness of a self at all.  A new or an additional understanding of the word is the stability of mind, maintained over long periods of time toward the goal of having a stable mind indefinitely or at all times.  That’s the goal.  Frankly, some days it has felt impossible but it always comes down to this moment here now . . .  being aware, mindful or aware of what the mind is doing this very moment.  Being fully in it and observing what the mind and body are doing or the reactions–watching those.

Watching the mind can be a real sport if one’s heart is into it.  Stop a moment and ask yourself, Am I aware?” 

The answer is always Yes, don’t you see?  You will find that there is always that overseer called awareness.  How deep is the awareness?  Is it superficial or is there recognition and acknowledgment of thinking whenever it arises. Is there recognition of sound, feeling (all of the senses) whether pleasant or unpleasant as those arise?  Can you remember in the midst of any aversion that begins to arise that it is only nature happening and not personal?  Neither are your reactions–that’s just nature happening too.

These are just a few of my personal thoughts and experiences on these subjects for any reader’s discernment or consideration.  

Repetitive Life Patterns

Patterns. Where does one start? They’re everywhere it seems–these life patterns! Astro Study and Dharma Study are both clear about them.  I’ve studied them through the dharma talks given by eastern teachers but noticed them long before any formal studies.  And the astrological study, you know planetary movements, has also supported my observations about patterns too–the same planet in the same place as it moves around the zodiac.  Luminary Moon hits the same digs every month and the Sun every year and so on; each planet moving at different speeds but as they aspect one another, they tend to produce the same type of event or experience.  The Facebook “On This Day” Memories application submits to you a list of all posts you made on that day and includes re-posts from that day in previous years.  Patterns are clearly there from my very own posts blatantly screaming back at me, “Notice!”

Patterns! A head cold or medical issue repeating the same time each year, moving during the same month (sometimes to the day) in certain years–it goes on ad nauseum:    neighbor issue, financial concern, trips with family, even weather systems which have not to do with my own personality.

What are these anyway? I’ve come to some thoughts to put down for myself and you too if you are still reading this.  Karma!  But hold on buster–not in the way most people think of the word.  It’s only a word that means “action” and is a result of “causes and conditions”, some of which are not personal.

Better not to complicate this bit of writing (which I don’t intend to go on much longer here); therefore, best not to get into an explanation of the non-self.  So, just sticking to the causes and conditions bit, accumulated energy will tend to repeat at times when conditions support it to do so.

Why does it repeat?  I’m going to narrow it down to the undesirable parts–those parts about the personality that makes me cringe to think about them. Those patterns–that’s where this post is headed.  There a good patterns too which we are creating in each and every moment actually, but . . .

Focusing further on the patterns such as anger at certain things or we could use a nicer word:  aversions.  I don’t want to deal with those anymore but causes and conditions accumulate to store those patterns, those aversions and surprisingly there are times they find their way to the surface from deep down in ground consciousness.

It seems that past conditions have caused me to react with aversion and it has become a habit, a pattern that has been repeated  And it’s not been until my later years here (late bloomer), that there’s not even been a conscious connection.

Now I see the pattern or one could say there is now a ‘me’ who is aware of them and with that awareness comes the observer–this creating distance between the aversion and the awareness. Sometimes reactions still happen;  yet,  with the newly awakened awareness of the pattern which has become gradually more conscious over many years, those reactions are minimal and mostly internally worked out.  This decreases any future punch that they may hold.

How to proceed?  Its a matter of creating new causes and conditions and not taking the old karma personal.  When the aversion arises, one can realize that it comes from prior reactions that have been stored — maybe not even from the current lifetime.  Who knows?  Anyway, its what this person (personality named Joy) has to deal with, but it isn’t me and isn’t personal and it does not really come from “now”–it arises from past causes and conditions (karma), remember?

What of it?  The idea is to begin to create new causes and conditions, stronger than the old perhaps and certainly more imbued with love, joy, compassion, patience and the numerous good qualities and virtues we desire to embrace which increase our happiness and peace.  New actions, new karma!  And also the goal is to have compassion for the personality self.  And by doing this we achieve the desire remain awake for the benefit of all others as well as the self here.

That which recognizes the pattern of aversion or even responds to the aversion has no aversion.  

How to remain awake?  Here we go! Back on the bandwagon about meditation.  And meditation simply means being aware of what is going on inside one’s own head and heart.  Not getting carried away by fantasy or letting thoughts drag you all over the darn place!

I do write newsletters frequently that include a lot of information regarding awareness and meditation since it’s a huge part of psychic development.

There. We’re at the end of the post and worked it out for us maybe.  Yes? Well, no matter (pun intended)–gave it a whirl and gave the self a talking to at the same time.

Oh, here is a link to all those newsletters that were just mentioned:  CLICK HERE to see this list of their links and you can sign up for the newsletters HERE.

Peaceful Reflection in Post Aversion and more on karmic tendencies

Not all apartments here are created equal, nor are all karmic imprints the same!
Not all apartments here are created equal, nor are all karmic imprints the same!

This post is me being bare-to-the-bones honest.  Sharing what I’m learning on this journey.  You may remember the posts since last year have reflected my struggle with… well,  straight to the point shall we?

Not all apartments are created equally, nor do all humans carry the same karmic imprints and tendencies in consciousness.

My inner question over many months involved knowing on deep levels that every irritating sound (or even smell; well, maybe especially smell) was illusion and my response of intense aversion to it was of course of my own making.

The sounds is ‘me’ and the smells are ‘me’ but at the same time in conventional reality obviously coming from the source of the downstairs neighbors.  For months on end, I realized this and argue with self, “…but it is so real (the loud voices the curry/garlic stink),… so real for something that is an illusion!

How could this be me when everything that remains of me that is still sane indicates the opposite?  

I knew the truth of it but the aversion was so strong that the reality of it increased in proportion and the whole thing kept feeding itself.  By the way, since moving I’ve learned that the apartment building itself where this experienced hell-realm is located is cheap construction and the townhouse I’m in now has very good soundproofing. Our neighbor to the right (this is a 2-level townhouse) consists of 3 people and a dog and we never hear a word, nor do the 3 of us living in this townhouse even hear one another’s TV or words from room-to-room or from upper-to-lower level.  So life is much more pleasant as far as that goes.   Not all apartments and townhouses in this complex are equal.

The other apartment  situation may have been karmic but it provided me the stimulus to ask more deeply about the nature of reality and the nature of mind.  I would never, ever wish to repeat it but I do see how the experience benefited my evolution.  

I knew deeply then as I always have in my core being that the external sounds, smell, appearances were empty and coming from the mind but the aversion was so strong… it was very confusing and I resisted it desperately causing myself compounded suffering.

The thing is when we look at something in meditation, we see the appearance of it in the mind.  Sounds, smells, all senses are this way.  The mind interprets everything and assigns meaning or judgment to it…  “i.e. this is pleasant, this is horrible, etc.”

And when we try to find the consciousness that see’s and interprets the energy, when we try to find the visual consciousness or the auditory consciousness or the olfactory/sense of smell consciousness that is doing the looking or receiving the smell, we cannot find it.   Mostly because it is constantly changing and in Buddhist terms it is “empty”.

Being a psychic this is known to me and seen in my work–energy is constantly changing and what we perceive is not the true nature of things, it is only our own perceptions which are deeply ingrained patterns (see last blog post)… latent karmic imprints.  

I have to admit here that there is difficulty in explaining in this written word what I know and what  am learning here now, post-aversion, in my continued  reflection and further study of  Tibetan Buddhism.  It’s complicated on one hand and so simple on the other!  All the Libra energy in me can hold the paradox but my Mercury in Scorpio feels it and has trouble with the words.

I realize even more clearly now that the sounds and smells [from my boisterous and cooking Indian downstairs neighbors and the guitar-singing neighbor who followed] were all simply energies which hit my senses that these sense consciousnesses had absolutely no opinion of those sounds or smells.

And further, and more importantly, I realize with more clarity that  it was my mind that  was giving it whatever meaning it had back then which was that of extreme aversion.

For another person with different karmic imprints, the situation would perhaps even been pleasant (although that’s hard to imagine) or at least the aversion may not have been as strong.

Why would it differ?  All those latent karmic imprints and tendencies were awakened and it seemed very difficult to have control over my intense aversions.  I am not making excuses, I’m demonstrating, hopefully, how something pleasant or unpleasant (attractions/aversions) may differ with person-to-person based on the karmic tendencies in ground consciousness [see last blog post].

Back then, I kept thinking [getting the thought]–this smell is ‘me’ and their yelling in Hindi is ‘me’ but (at the same time) how can that possibly be?    Karmic habituation of interpreting certain energy a certain way is part of the answer.

I don’t have all the answers but it’s all getting clearer now that I am in a new setting where peaceful reflection is possible.

(I share this in the hope that it may serve or be helpful in some way to another out in cyber world who may be experiencing any type of difficulty or confusion.  May we all be brought to clarity and contented happiness and freedom from all suffering and causes of suffering.)