Nature of the mind
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alertly relaxed Empty alertly relaxed

Thu Mar 10, 2022 4:19 pm
Hello,

I've been reading some books by Namkhai Norbu, including Dream Yoga, The Mirror, and The Cycle of Day and Night.
About maintaining presence, his use of phrases like "alertly relaxed" was helpful to me. Other variations he uses include:
  • alertly relaxed state
  • alert vibrant presence
  • relaxing alertly with presence
  • being relaxed, but alert and present

I found it very helpful to combine the feeling of those phrases to his discussions about being present in both the calm state and the movement of mind. I include some quotes below, but here is how it helped me to go further into what we've already been working on. In a way, we are not doing anything special. As quoted below, "living is enough." We are just being fully present for it. Once I realized that there is no moment, activity, thought, or circumstance that must prevent me from being present, it became even more clear to me this is just about consistently choosing to do it. I can be rushing to go somewhere or get something done, sure. I can think through something very deeply, sure. I just should be present for it. I can be present for any activity or any thought. It's simply choosing to do so and remembering to do so. If I consistently choose to do so whenever I remember, it can only get easier and easier. So far, this is working out for me. I even remember from just last night a dream where I had moments of this presence, aware of my own thoughts.

From The Mirror:
The truth here is that the calm state is the essence of the mind and movement is its energy: they are two inseparable aspects of the same reality... If we consider the calm state something positive to be achieved and the movement of thoughts something negative to be abandoned, thereby cultivating the dualism of acceptance and rejection, then we will never overcome our ordinary mentality. So, maintaining presence without distraction we must simply acknowledge whatever thoughts arise — good or bad, relevant or insignificant — and just continue in the state of “movement”: this point is vitally important.
...
“Recognising” does not mean that there is something to see with the eyes or to identify conceptually. It means just being there with the presence of whatever thoughts occur, however they are linked to past, present or future, and of whatever sense objects arise. Through this actual presence we “recognise” the state of movement and then simply continue without forgetting this recognition. It certainly does not consist in trying to interrupt the flow of movement or of trying to imprison the thoughts within, modifying or correcting the mind in some way.
...
Similarly, if we find ourselves in disturbing circumstances, such as being in the midst of a lot of noise, we should recognise it for what it is and continue with the presence of the state of that thought without getting distracted. If a thought of compelling aversion arises we recognise it, and without losing control and being dominated by the surge of passions we remain present in the state of that thought. This approach works with sense objects generally — sounds, smells, etc. In every case the point is to remain with the presence of the actual recognition of whatever we perceive.
...
No matter whether or not what we are doing is particularly important, we must always maintain presence without getting distracted.
...
Since we are so strongly accustomed to distraction it is difficult to give rise to real presence of awareness, especially when we are just beginning to practise. Yet this is much the same sort of difficulty we encounter when starting a new job. In the first phase of basic training we may get hardly anything right but after a while through experience the job gets easier. Here we work in the same way: we start by engaging, taking special care not to get distracted, following up with the resolve to maintain presence to the utmost degree possible; and when each new sign of distraction appears we activate the capacity to recognise it. Continuing in this way committed to the presence of awareness we can in fact get to the point where we are no longer subject to distraction at all.
...
Basically, practising means living without getting distracted. In order to train ourselves in presence we can practice meditation of the recognition of the state of calm and of movement during the time called nyamshag, that is during sitting practice. But we cannot remain still as statues all day. We have to get up, walk and carry out different activities. This is called jethob, the period between one meditation session and the next. In jethob we can perform any action but we should do it without getting distracted. If we practice without distraction gradually the space of our meditation increases, becoming integrated with daily activities, until there is no longer any distinction between meditation and life.

...But, apart from that practising does not mean doing anything in particular: living is enough. Only if someone told me, “I am sorry, Master, I haven’t had time to live!” would I believe that they didn’t have time to practice.


From The Cycle of Day and Night:
...It is just luminous clarity or just pure presence, and it is similar to a moment of surprised astonishment. This pure presence arises in a bare and naked fashion without duality or distinction between the calm state and the movement of thoughts.
...
While continuing in contemplation, without falling under the power of either drowsiness or agitation, we find ourselves in a state which is present in profound lucidity and vividness. With regard to continuing in a state of contemplation, even though we may engage in calling up thoughts, thrusting them aside, causing them to repeat, or expanding upon them, they remain in their own condition (whenever they arise) without our being distracted, and are self-liberated.
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alertly relaxed Empty Re: alertly relaxed

Fri Mar 11, 2022 12:58 pm
Thank you so much for sharing this, Bob!
I cannot see the difference between the 3 states
-alertly relaxed
-relaxing alertly with presence
- being relaxed, but alert and present
But it doesnot matter much to me because in all these 3 states the words"relax" and "alert" are important for me.
I think what Namkai Norbu says is in the end what all teachers try to teach us in so many different ways:
Meditation is not only about sitting on our cushion but to integrate this into our life, second by second, day and night.
If we do'nt practice on our cushion to see what happens in our mind, to open up and bring openness and awareness together, there is nothing to integrate...
I have to remember myself so many times a day to be present in the moment when I am distracted, it is a long way but that is ok...
Marijke


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alertly relaxed Empty Re: alertly relaxed

Fri Mar 11, 2022 4:01 pm
Thanks Marijke!
For sure, some of those phrases and many others mean the same thing or come to the same end. For me, sometimes in a given situation a specific phrasing helps it click more so I can apply it better in that moment. But yes, "relax" and "alert". At least for me it seems harder or almost impossible to do in some situations when I view it as an extra thing I have to do, especially when it seems I can barely handle what I'm already doing. But when instead I view it as just another way of doing the same things I'm already doing, then it seems easy (or at least easier).

I want to mention another phrasing or framing that I've been playing with. We already have been discussing and working with the seeing/knowing everything as "vision" that we can dissolve, or as a "dream", or as "clear light" and "emptiness". Although it also would be the same as those, recently I've found it helpful to know everything in my experience as "thought".

For example, whether I am just thinking about a given person, or choose to imagine that person, or I am actually looking at that person in front of me, in all cases I know my experience of the person as my "thought" of the person. They are different modes of thought, but always and in all cases at best they are only my thought of that person, it is never the person or reality itself. Through this lens, everything I am experiencing, is my mind. I am looking at my thoughts. I am feeling my thoughts. I am experiencing and interacting my thoughts. Some may be labeled as internal or external, or may be labeled as imagined or concrete, but all are my thoughts.
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alertly relaxed Empty Re: alertly relaxed

Thu Mar 17, 2022 1:10 pm
Yes, Bob, this is the point. Even when it seems that you have a real perception unpolluted by the mind that judges and distorts everything, still is something inside you.
I explain better. When I see a beautiful object, a sensation ( information) from my eyes arrives to the brain. I judge if it's good or bad or neutral, good in this case, a though arises, an emotion comes and after I act. This is called conditioned generation.

But even the first information, from my eyes to my brain is inside me. And if I have a disease in my perceptual apparatus, for example my eyes are sick, what to everybody seems beautiful, to me could seems unpleasant.

To go further this , to have a real perception, is impossible. Assuming that everything is illusory is inherent in the very structure of perception
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