Open mind, no expectation

In the practice of meditation, concentrating too heavily on the technique brings all kinds of mental activities, frustrations, and sexual and aggressive fantasies. So you keep just on the verge of your technique, with 25 percent of your attention. Another 25 percent is relaxing, a further 25 percent relates to making friends with oneself, and the last 25 percent connects with expectation — your mind is open to the possibility of something happening during this practice session.These four aspects of mindfulness have been referred to as the four wheels of a chariot.The ideal number of wheels we should have on our chariot is four, the four techniques of meditation: concentration, openness, awareness, and expectation. That leaves a lot of room for play. That is the approach in the buddhadharma, the Buddhist teachings. A lot of people in the lineage have practiced that way and have actually achieved a perfect state of enlightenment in one lifetime.

The fourth wheel of meditative attention, according to Chogyam Trungpa, is expectation. I’ve done a halfway-through-the-year assessment of the first three wheels, and now it’s time to address this one.

It is very difficult to have no expectation. I mean, don’t we all expect that the sun will set tonight and rise in the morning, that we will experience that next day, that next meal, that next greeting of a friend or loved one? Intellectually we may know that this isn’t always true, but it usually takes a great act of chaos for us to really get it, a deep awakening.

I just do the best I can with this one, and the best I know how to be open is to be as completely in the present as possible.

When thoughts of the past and the future are not arising, what’s left is the present, and in this six months of sitting, I have been surprised to discover that the present is vast. I notice more of what I didn’t notice before. Refinements of breathing, hearing, feeling, much more awareness of my own inner experience.

I’ve had what I call a breakthrough, and it didn’t happen how I thought it might. A radical thought crossed my mind, and I quickly suppressed it, fearing its consequences. It kept coming back, and it was a process for me to clearly understand and accept that it was true.

That thought was that everything is awareness and awareness is everything. Nothing exists outside of awareness. And it’s my awareness that knows this.

Having accepted its truth, I know that this radical thought has been at work and at play in my everyday life. Ironically, it seems to have made me more selfish, in the sense that I do not want to sacrifice myself any more to being less than I am, to fearing my own light, as Nelson Mandela/Marianne Williamson said. I want to be all that I am, to live the life that I’m best suited for – not someone else’s idea of a good life, but my idea of my good life.

That, my friends, is not too much to ask. Truly, it is the only thing to ask.


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