Thursday, December 16, 2010

No Blind Faith Here

(Back from two and a half week retreat with Ruth Denison, at Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, I am devoting the next few weeks to sharing Ruth's wonderful teachings.)

Finding Out For Ourselves, According to the Buddha, and Ruth . . .

That morning, Ruth was not feeling well. Still, she had made herself come to the zendo and teach to us. I am so glad she did. Here is part of her talk, on investigation:

"No belief,
nothing to follow.
It is a process of investigation
and observing . . ."

This aspect of the Buddhist teachings pleases my Western mind, that needs to understand before it is to cooperate.


  1. Is there a way to ask Gil (Fronsdal) a question...

    I see my mind goes out to the thing that kind of 'soaks' my attention before I start the spiral of any defilement/distracting thoughts.

    Then I heard Gil saying in a talk on "wisdom" saying something like "remain in the body...if you are not in your body chances are you are already distracted"

    SO he indeed answered the question in some ways in the talk on Wisdom.

    What am still trying to investigate is that once distracted, which part in the body will help me anchor back, where can I 'stay' in the body as I bring my attention back?

  2. Yes, you can ask Gil a question. For that, just join the IMC Online Community here:

    Then go to second window of left of homepage, under 'Gil Fronsdal Answers Your Questions', and click on link to my name, and ask your question there. This way your question will appear in bucket of questions I get to select from every month for Gil's Q&A.

    If I may, I would also pass on what I learned from another teacher, Ruth Denison, regarding your specific question. Ruth's advice was to sweep body up and down as often as necessary, and to use breath also as anchor. Breath as primary object of attention, body as fall back object. There may also be specific parts of the body that work better for you. I know for me, the feet and the hands are great places to get me back into the body.

    I hope this is helpful!

  3. Thats correct. At work I have many times watched the belly instead of the whole body to try and get over a thought, memory or distraction that haunts me, for instant ‘getting over’. I also presume watching the whole body is a slower but deeper way of cleansing.

    I again remember here what Gil said "So much of our lives happen in the belly .."

    Nostrils is the place I have been trained to be in for eight years (I find it easier to watch sensations). Watching the body is turning some very basic attitudes, and making me more real (for one example, I have been coming out 'sleep', my sleep got lighter and dreams aware ...but I still needed around eight hours most days, yesterday I discovered I am losing almost completely the tendency to be anxious, deeper sense of space, and today I got up in four and a half hours, feeling very fresh. I havent seen myself wake up so easily in my entire life, on a cold winter morning to boot, without any external motivation like and exam or a plane to catch, or the schedule of a meditation retreat. I see myself getting up day after day now :) So body sweeps, over the years, are making deeper changes in perception, and behaviour.

    During the day my attention/awareness of the body varies in degrees and most times I am aware of fine subtle sensations 'sweeping the body'. When am talking to someone I find these subtle sensations fade out in the background of my attention. I clearly see the stronger kin of sensation though, if I feel strong aversion I literally see belly tighten up, fists clench, jaw muscles ... now if I start watching these manifestations, the sensations last a very long time and interrupt work. I have tried for years to be more comfortable to watch this manifestation when it arises and I keep getting stuck, having to choose either work or working on these sensations once they appear and seem to go on for hours in certain cases.

    Other alternatives that come to my mind is imagining a vast space in universe and all incidents seem to become very small...this works very well in unpleasant situations where I only have to listen and not make clear vocal/physical actions necessarily.
    So if I am making a corporate presentation, whats the right thing to do here, internally? (given I am very comfortable giving such presentations and know my subject well). Or what is the best way to be aware when am at ease, working on my desk (it is these ‘easier’ mind moments that skip attention)

  4. Thanks for your guidance and the link. I was able to better articulate my question and sent it to you through the IMC website.

    It is a coincidence that I asked you for guidance here, or is it a coincidence :)



  5. Next Q&A recording should take place in about a month.