Being, before doing

When you are feeling overwhelmed, you’re trying too hard. That kind of energy does not help the other person and it does not help you. You should not be too eager to help right away. There are two things, to be and to do. Dont think too much about to do – to be is first. To be peace. To be joy. And then to do joy, to do happiness – on the basis of being. Being fresh. Being peaceful. Being compassionate. This is the basic practice. It’s like a person sitting at the foot of a tree. The tree does not have to do anything, but the tree is fresh and alive. When you are like that tree, sending out waves of freshness, you help to calm down the suffering in the other person.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Be Beautiful, Be yourself

Keeping our attention firm, no matter what experiences we have

Sometimes you may feel that you have amazing, tremendous meditation, and at other times you may feel that you have no meditation at all. This characterizes experience, which fluctuates a great deal. Realization, which is distinct from experience, does not change, but experiences can fluctuate a great deal or alternate between good and bad. There will still be times when you will have what you regard as good experiences and, in contrast, what you regard as bad experiences. When that occurs, just keep on looking. Don’t get distracted or sidetracked by the experience. Whatever meditation experience arises, you should recognize that it is transitory. As is said, “meditation experience is like mist, it will surely vanish.”

Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Which angle will you take this afternoon, this weekend?

What is life but an angle of vision?    A person is measured by the angle at which he looks at objects. Ralph Waldo Emerson

The basis for equanimity is called “wise attention”, namely,  recognizing the power of our own attention and the crucial importance of how we relate to events. Wise attention is the antidote to the delusional thinking that replaces our direct experiences with projections and interpretations. Equanimity is central to this state of non-delusion, because it does not resist the truth of what is happening. It’s spacious enough to see happiness as happiness and suffering as suffering, without judgments or attempts to control them

Sharon Salzberg, Equanimity

Bare Attention

The Old Pond. A Frog jumps in. Plop. Matsuo Bash0, 1644 – 1694

How do we tame our minds? How do we train ourselves to stay open to our experience from moment to moment? The answer lies in the mind state called  “bare attention”. “Bare” means simple, direct, without trappings of judgment or interpretation. “Attention” means mindfulness, awareness; not forgetting to be present. A famous Zen haiku reads: “The old Pond. A Frog jumps in. Plop”

This is a wonderful description of bare attention. The old pond is not necessarily beautiful or covered with lily pods or green or blue. The poet, Basho, goes directly to the essence of his experience: the pond, frog, plop. We can say that in meditation we are developing “plop mind”. We are stripping away everything that is extraneous to our immediate experience and simply being present with what is happening. This is bare attention: direct, essential, noninterfering.

Joseph Goldstein, Bare Attention