For a long time I’ve been asking myself, if all the teachings talk in terms of resting in natural mind, why is it so wearying to meditate? Where does the resting part come into the picture?
I had a bit of an answer recently during a Sunday morning sit at Shambhala. After working really hard for three hours and making some headway, as it were, I perceived that my ordinary self was struggling to catch up to the tastes of liberation experienced, and was very tired.
So it’s really perhaps just as simple as one has always perceived since starting to meditate: it’s not the being in the moment that takes energy, it’s having to start over again an instant later. It’s the firing up of the motor again. It’s the sadness at seeing ourselves cover the moment over with glue. The stickiness of our grasping. Seeing this again and again.
Duality, duality. All answers to questions such as these must come in relative truths. And as Anam Thubten Rinpoche has made clear to us, we’ll have our ego with us every step of the way towards enlightenment – the ego is very spiritual, always ready to buy more time outside of liberation, with answers that keep the ego intact.
Even so, to share this or even consider it I have to use relative terms. As practitioners we have to think in terms of making progress, and even sometimes in terms of experiencing setbacks, although we don’t let such things hinder our practice. These are all just the appearances that arise and give us the material of realization. And as is taught, we use relative truth continually to switch our grasping away from samsara and towards liberation.
The Shambhala Sunday sit for me is when I work the hardest all week. I really enjoy these three hours of meditating every week, I’ve been going since I started meditating four years ago. They help my practice through the rest of the week, and the longer sessions let me build a focus for things I don’t always attempt during my shorter sessions at home: things like guru yoga, contemplation of karma, death or compassion, and dwelling briefly in more subtle experiences perhaps.
In recent months during these longer sessions I’ve been working harder, raising windhorse frequently, supplicating Guru Rinpoche, really aiming for the clear mind of the master. I’ve found in certain blessed moments that I can experience a mind that is mine, yes, but which I can only approach through the mind of Guru Rinpoche. The great ones lift us higher I think, and I’ve heard it said that only the rain of blessings from them enables any of us to progress along the path.
But I wonder if I should be so weary after this practice. I wonder what I’m doing wrong. Am I going anywhere, or just digging a deep groove in the wrong place? This seems to be the thing to do, to chase after objectives, to aim for practice targets. But shouldn’t more energy flow into me? Shouldn’t there be less striving, more surrender?
Ah, practice. I don’t know these answers. It seems we move from one set of answers to a new set of mysteries.
And I call this a glad thing.