Autumn has arrived and our Tuesday evening sittings embrace the growing darkness. As sunset fades to moonless night, we feel the Sangha settle into the peace of ’nowhere to go and nothing to do.’ What a ripe time to reflect on meditation! Meditation is the art of dwelling happily in the present moment. To dwell happily, we need both skillfulness and awareness. We practice our practice, like a student learning scales at the piano, then listen as the music of awareness plays itself. Meditation happens in the space between discipline and freedom, form and result. Our hand can remind us of this balance. The front of the hand represents skillfulness: Our fingers bend forward as they explore, manipulate and grasp. Practicing an action again and again yields dexterity and expertise, so the front of our hand diligently brings us back to the cushion, to our breath, and to our aspiration to wake up. The back of the hand represents awareness. Awareness is already present, so we don’t have to hone it to have it. Awareness has three elements - perceiving, accepting, and embracing: We perceive the object of awareness, accept it without grasping or rejecting, then lean toward what we perceive with loving kindness. Perceiving, accepting, and embracing, practiced diligently, bring happiness. So the front of the hand is diligence while the back of the hand is awareness. Like the hand at the end of your arm, the hand of meditation works best when whole. We learn to flow with the moment, sometimes flexing the fingers forward to grasp the forms of practice, sometimes relaxing to rest in awareness, never settling in on some ‘perfect’ permanent balance. When awareness sees and skillfulness responds, we are dwelling happily in the present moment. We are meditating.
If you wish, you may listen to this talk on our Podcast page. Or on Soundcloud: