stepping over small obstacles


I’ve realized there’s a small but substantial obstacle between my usual space and my meditation room. Although I can’t be certain of exactly what it is, it’s referred to as a “laptop”.

Waiting for opportune moments to meditate (Fina sleeping, Fina content by herself for a while, Fina feeding…) I found the first place I went was to my computer (check email, check blog-stats, check news…). Before I knew it, my opportune moment was gone.

When I finally broke away and sat, I was confronted with another, new obstacle. I’d read a few weeks ago about the benefits of sitting in full-lotus, and although I realize I’m not able to, just the thought of it, the desire, distracted me to the point that I couldn’t keep from wiggling around until there was no focus on the breath.

What I did was playfully added a couple more things to the list of the Samadhi Treatise of the Treasure King

11- Don’t desire many blog views. Many blog views can easily increase one’s greed and arrogance. Find humility in the modest number of views you receive.

12- Don’t desire the Full-Lotus position. Such a position would only increase your self-indulgence and contempt for others. Be content to sit in the Half-Lotus position.

Of course, both of these are probably taken care of in the fourth:

“Don’t expect that you can practice hard and not experience temptations. A lack of temptations will only soften your resolve. See demons as friends who have come to help you along the Way.”

I sat twice yesterday, once in the afternoon and once before going to bed. In the first sitting, I noticed the ox had been given too much free time to revert back to old ways, and was more stubborn than I remember leaving it. Later, though, I read something that really helped, a chapter from Mindfulness In Plain English, by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana:

Don’t set goals for yourself that are too high to reach. Be gently with yourself. You are trying to follow your own breathing continuously and without a break. That sounds easy enough, so you will have a tendency at the outset to push yourself to be scrupulous and exacting. This is unrealistic. Take time in small units instead.

I expected the next part to recommend 10 breaths or even one minute, but instead I was surprised:

At the beginning of an inhalation, make the resolve to follow the breath just for the period of that one inhalation. Even this is not so easy, but at least it can be done. Then, at the start of the exhalation, resolve to follow the breath just for that one exhalation, all the way through. You will still fail repeatedly, but keep at it.

What helped me the most was having him admit that even following a single breath is difficult. I returned to my cushion to try it out, and it worked. It was the best sit I’d had in a full year. Even my legs didn’t feel a bit of discomfort.

for anyone interested in a marvelous guide to Vipassana…

5 responses »

  1. My experience:

    – Quality of readers matters more than quantity (now that’s self-serving!)

    – The only thing that really matters in meditation is how a person keeps their mind.

    And….we will fail at both readership and meditation. Keep at it!

  2. Oh. Bante G.! He gave me a dhamma name I truly treasure: dhammaja. I love his approach to meditation at retreats: “freeform… sit…stand…whatever…”


    13. Don’t desire comprehensive erudition in every post. Give others something to do when they’ve tamed their ox.

    14. Let go of any idea of lotus positions and buy a good chair.

  3. Thanks everyone…

    Barry- I have to admit, I’ve somehow aquired soem high quality readers!! (^ _~)

    Chong Go Sunim – thank you for first sharing the Treatise with me!

    Genju – Thank you for reading! and thank you for your advice! I had to look up ‘erudition’ online ^^, thank you. Maybe I should buy a nice lotus shaped chair! haha! but that could be dangerous~

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