Observation

Whatever there is to see, observe it continuously, in contentment, without thinking anything–nothing more, nothing less.
——Luangpor Dhammajayo (Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya)

Skills and Tips

Our meditation techniques become simpler as we proceed further in the book.  In all the techniques we have encountered up until now, we have used visualization (creating an image

in the mind) as the method by which we focus the mind at the center of the body.  Supposing we were not to visualize anything, but simply to rest our attention at the center of the body and see what is already there for us to see–who would guess that the mind may have as much to see as when you imagine? For many meditators, this proves to be the case: simply observing yields more inner experience than ‘jump starting’ by visualizing a bright object–but of course, this ability comes about only on the firm foundation of skills learned in the previous chapters.  The way in which you learn to observe at the center of the body is similar to the way our eyes ‘adapt’ to the low-lighting of a room suddenly plunged into darkness. In the beginning nothing but darkness will be seen, but before long, first forms, shapes and eventually colours and light will become apparent. It is the process that cannot be rushed. When you are establishing the position of the center of the body, work by your sense of touch

and feeling instead of by your imagination.

The method is a good alternative for those who find they unwittingly ‘try too hard’ when visualizing an object of meditation.

The Method

Sit in the half-lotus position with your back and spine straight as described in the previous

chapter. Softly close your eyes and relax every part of your body, beginning with the muscles

of your face, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, trunk and legs. Make sure there are no signs of tension on your forehead or across your shoulders.  Stop thinking about the things of the world. Feel as if you are sitting alone in the world. Create a feeling of happiness and spaciousness in your mind.

When your mind feels completely relaxed, harmonized and unified–and your body is completely relaxed too–very gently, using no effort at all, allow your attention to settle and to center itself at the point in the middle of your stomach and maintain your mind there, at this point in the center of your stomach, as continuously as you can, for as long as you can, without letting your mind wander anywhere else.  You should choose the point at the center of your stomach which you feel is the point of greatest contentment. The point where you feel you can rest your mind continuously without moving it anywhere else. For this method of meditation we maintain the mind at the center of the body simply by observing without imagining anything. Observe whatever there is to be seen at the center of the body. If there is darkness to be observed–then observe the darkness.  If there are shadows to be observed–then observe the shadows. If there are images to be observed, then observe the images. If there is brightness to be observed, then observe the brightness. In brief, observe whatever there is to be seen–observe continuously with a light and gentle attention, without entertaining any thoughts in your mind, without judging the things that you see, without any expectations, without becoming elated by pleasing things that we see, without feeling disappointed by displeasing things that we see.  Simply observe and nothing more–just as you would watch a television screen without trying to interfere with the program you see on

the screen–in the same way we simply observe without trying to interfere or affect the things

that we see in the mind. The important thing is to rest your mind at the center of the body

continuously with a light and gentle attention–never letting your attention wander anywhere

else. With the continuity of effort eventually the mind will become subtler and the images in the mind will become subtler too.  And the feelings in the mind will become more refined, while at the same time the number of thoughts will become gradually reduced–until the mind can come to a standstill at the center of the body. So cultivate the mind in this way using your chosen method–with a light and gentle attention–as continuously as you can for as long as you can without letting the mind wander anywhere else.  As the mind becomes more refined you will start to have access to more refined and subtle states of mind–because the mind can only have access to states of mind which are as subtle as the mind itself. So cultivate the refinement of the mind, cultivate the subtlety of your mind using your observation skills as continuously and as long as you can without letting the mind wander elsewhere.

Eventually the mind will come gently to a standstill at the center of the body, allowing the mind to go deeper inside–deeper into purity, deeper into brightness, and deeper into the hidden wisdom of the mind.

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