Sunday, April 11

Mental Jerkings

~1 hr. sitting, metta directed to many different people. The fact that the people kept changing seemed to prevent any one-pointedness from developing, but it felt right somehow. We learned last night from Sakula that her husband's mom has colon cancer, so there was a strong desire to send metta there to her, Sheena Williamson, via Sakula and Alistair... For some reason, it's still a bit difficult to send metta to Antony. I do it, and mean it, but the mind gets distracted & buffeted, turbulent thoughts, history. But still I wish him well.

Yesterday evening, around the time I was listening to one of the tapes from the 2002 Leigh Brasington course, I realized how much I've been neglecting anapanasati in favor of metta. True, that one day when I did anapanasati as my formal sitting, the lack of metta made for a bad day. But what a difference it made last night, when I kept the breath in mind when I walked up to the Corner Cupboard to pick up our dinners! Continuity of practice, continuity of presence. Felt like a revelation. So my current thinking is to continue doing metta in formal sittings, but keep the breath in mind all the rest of the time, use the breath as an anchor and do... well, do vipassana, do the Burmese condensed version of satipatthana, like all the IMS teachers are always saying. :-) Sometimes it takes me a while to figure these things out. Metta & breathing, that's the ticket. It's amazing, it's remarkable, how effective mindfulness of breathing was for stilling distracting thoughts. See the Meghiya Sutta, Udana IV.1.

"A bhikkhu, Meghiya, who is established in these five things should also cultivate four additional things: foulness should be cultivated for overcoming lust; lovingkindness should be cultivated for overcoming malevolence; respiration-mindfulness should be cultivated for cutting off (discursive) thinking; the perception of impermanence should be cultivated for the removal of the conceit 'I am.' For when one perceives impermanence, Meghiya, the perception of not-self is established. When one perceives not-self one reaches the removal of the conceit 'I am,' which is called Nibbana here and now."

Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance:

Trivial thoughts, subtle thoughts,
Mental jerkings that follow one along:
Not understanding these mental thoughts,
One runs back and forth with wandering mind.

But having known these mental thoughts,
The ardent and mindful one restrains them.
An awakened one has entirely abandoned them,
These mental jerkings that follow one along.

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