Connecting with Source in the Midst of Chaos and Confusion
It’s hard being in the world today. We’re under great pressures around our health & wellbeing as well as that of all other life & the environment of our planet. Our financial stability & freedom are at risk. We want this all to improve yet we may feel our hands are completely tied and unable to do anything personally or we may feel hopeless and depressed.
These are signs of change in process. Search back in your life for examples of change in process: when a job or relationship was falling apart; when your financial or living situation was in upheaval. No matter what the subject of change was, the process of it was surely uncomfortable and possibly downright frightening and painful.
Right now, the entire world is in the process of change and it is most certainly uncomfortable, frightening, and painful. So what do we do? What can we do?
Return to Source
According to countless indigenous belief systems around the globe – and even some religions – the problem with the world is that we’ve lost our connection with Source.
What is Source? It’s the unnamable, indescribable consciousness, intelligence and benevolent life-force energy of all that exists, has ever existed, and will ever exist. There are as many names for Source as there are cultures and languages.
In Hawaiʻi, this is called ALOHA. Indigenous elders, including Native Hawaiian practitioners, say that ALOHA (Source, Great Spirit, Unity) is a feeling which is only reachable when we are still and our mind is quiet.
Quantum physics describes it as the Quantum Field – a field of light energy – the foundation of all existence – that acts as pure potential from which everything unfolds and into which everything enfolds.
In the Buddhist tradition, Source is called Mind (Greater Mind vs. small mind) and the method to reach quiet stillness is called Peaceful Abiding or shamatha vipashyana meditation. Peaceful Abiding describes our mind in its original state – its natural resting state: open, fresh, alert, aware, and pure (unadulterated by conditioning).
According to Chamtrul Rinpoche:
The English word “mind” has many definitions in today’s modern world, and this can cause so much confusion for many people when they try and study the Buddha’s teachings before they have fully understood what the word “mind” is referring to in the correct buddhist context.
When we talk about the mind in a buddhist context, it can be correctly defined as “clarity” and “awareness”.
This “clarity” refers to the fact that any phenomenon can clearly appear to the mind. This “awareness” refers to the fact that the mind is aware of any phenomenon that is appearing.
Any phenomena literally means anything and everything: Physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, concepts, habits, interests, thoughts, emotions, feelings of happiness or sadness or indifference, memories, distinguishing, attention, intention, and so on. It includes everything that you have ever experienced, and everything that you will ever experience.
It must be understood that when we define the mind with the words “clarity” and “awareness”, that these two words are not describing two separate activities, where clarity occurs first, then awareness occurs after. Clarity and awareness are merely two definitions that describe just the one single activity of the mind from two different points of view. There has always, and there will always be just the one single activity that we refer to as mind.
And just how it never came into existence, it never goes out of existence. It is a beginningless and endless unbroken continuum of just one single activity of experiencing. And only the contents of what it experiences changes, but the experiencing never stops.
And it is through meditation that one can change from a suffering experience to a liberated one, and further, to the awakened state of a buddha for the benefit of all.”
The instruction to reach “clarity” and “awareness” from indigenous elders is to sit still, quiet the mind, and open your awareness to ALOHA as it is when we are in this place that peace arises and all things flow for the benefit of all sentient beings and the environment.
Shamatha vipashyana meditation – the Buddhist method to reach ALOHA – is very basic and simple and not tied to any one culture. It’s the means of rediscovering ourselves and our natural state of Mind. It’s the means to tune into genuine reality, without any expectations or preconceptions.
The mind is always meditating – placing its attention one thing or another. For most, it’s meditating mostly on the past or future. Doing this can spark anger, fear, worry, retaliation, revenge, and the like. Even though we may experience anxiety, agitation, difficult emotions, stress, and anger within any emotional experience, we are still able to connect with the natural resting state of our mind which is clear, fresh, aware, pure, and connected with Source.
Why meditate? It’s a simple practice available to every human being without exception that enables us to discover and rest in the natural goodness and state of our mind.
This might seem scary because we’re not used to being in a naturally peaceful place but we don’t have to be afraid of who we are.
My teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, says, “Peaceful abiding describes the mind as it naturally is. The word ‘peace’ tells the whole story. The human mind is by nature joyous, calm, and very clear. In shamatha vipashyana meditation, we aren’t creating a peaceful state – we’re letting our mind be as it naturally is to begin with. This doesn’t mean that we’re peacefully ignoring things. It means that the mind is able to be in itself without constantly leaving.”
He goes on to say, “In shamatha vipashyana meditation – or peaceful abiding – we train our minds in stability, clarity, and strength. Through this most basic form of sitting meditation, we discover that we can abide peacefully. Knowing our natural peace is the basis for anyone curious enough to seek true happiness.”
It seems we all might agree that training the body through exercise, diet and relaxation is a good idea but why don’t we think about training the mind? Mindfulness strengthens our mind and works with our emotional states which can help us in any part of our lives.
Usually we’re thinking about me, me, me. We worry, hope, fear, plan; we feel agitated or stressed or stuck in depression. When we’re stuck in this habitual current of the conceptual mind, we can’t experience the open, fresh, clarity of the natural, resting state of mind.
Freeing Ourselves from Habit & Conditioning
Letting ourselves be dictated by negative emotions is like being stuck in the waves on the surface of the ocean and missing the depth, power, and clarity beneath the waves.
In peaceful abiding, we ground the mind in the present by placing our attention on the body breathing. We notice thoughts and continually return to our breath and to the fullness of our experience in the present. We switch allegiance from the bewildered, conditioned mind to our stable, clear, strong, and natural original mind.
We allow ourselves to rest gently with nowness. We learn to rest in our own natural peace. We become familiar with Source, Basic Goodness, ALOHA.
In meditation, we can see the mind is always placing itself on something. The current of mind is always fluctuating – jumping frenetically from one thought to another, unfinished. Yet underneath all that movement and distraction is stillness – Peaceful Abiding, Original Mind, ALOHA – and we can connect with that at any time because we ARE that.
But don’t believe what I say. Try it out for yourself and see if it isn’t true.