Yesterday was an intense day of practice, starting with half-day retreat with Gil, and continuing throughout the day.
Only a few minutes into the first sitting, I was hit with intense sensation in the stomach, again. Heavy, burning, scratchy . . . I gave it all my attention. By the time the bell rang, my whole insides were one big mass of pain.
Gil's short talk was about the Buddhist idea of 'mula', or roots. Here are my notes:
An important aspect of meditation is how, through the act of sitting still and keeping our mind of the breath, we get to see aspects of ourselves that we don't normally see. It is important to relate to what is happening with interest and curiosity. Looking to cultivate equanimity, balance and wisdom.
Importance of getting to deeper motivations/structures that keep on operating underneath, and influence our lives in a profound way. For that we need to not spend too much time on surface issues, and instead look at root/core that keep operating, and that may be hidden from us, if we do not bother looking.
Most common roots quoted in Buddhist texts are greed, hatred and delusion. But there is a fourth one, just as important, particularly in our Western culture, and that has to do with our relationship to self, i.e. self-image, attachment to self, self understanding. Westerners tend to place lots of emphasis on personal psychological aspects of self, but one needs to go deeper, and approach self from more universal angle.
Need to consider how to meet activity inside and hold it in a useful way, with clarity, and equanimity, while supporting the mind as it gets quieter. Sometimes there is an urge to turn back, and give importance back to surface issues. What is wonderful about vipassana practice is that it is not about digging, but rather looking directly at what is happening, so that we do not limit ourselves with what is at the surface.
During surface activities, one should raise the question of what else is going on? For this, one needs to stay quiet long enough.
"Become ruthlessly rootless" - Gil Fronsdal
The pain in the stomach, that keeps visiting, belongs to roots territory, for sure. Driving home from the retreat, I could feel it still, as I navigated the heavy traffic from Christmas shoppers. Frustration towards clumsy driver ahead of me, ended up in stomach also. Surface frustration, root pain, became one and the same, and in process surprised me with unexpected insight. Pain in the stomach, that I carry around in the subterranean layers of my being, is in the frustration-hate-anger family. I felt it so clearly during that moment in the car. Later as I went about my day, I took it with me wherever I went, swimming, talking with family, at the grocery store, cooking. All day, I held it, with great compassion. Old part of self turned on itself.