In 2005 I met one of “Them”- my first encounter with someone who lived in spacious clarity every day.
Thai Buddhist teacher and meditation coach Ajhan Jeerapong Pairote
shone his brilliant simplicity on the selfy skepticism and gloomy Western attitude that accompanied this character on a meditation retreat in Northern Thailand.
Ten days and a good bit of mental simplifying later,
Ajahn Pairote laughed gently at
what he called our “shiny faces” – our happy smiles
expressing light-heartedness and clear-minded simplicity.
What changed ?
A lighter feel for mind’s thoughty productions.
Less mental noise.
More direct relating to immediate experience.
A sense of freedom.
These temporary effects from the retreat practice faded like orange clouds at dusk, but something valuable remained; some small sense of what it might be like to live that way all the time.
This sense was fragmentary and vague – there was no experience of selflessness – yet it truly pointed toward freedom in the neighborhood of clarity, simplicity and less mentation.
Consciousness shorn of surplus mental baggage feels brighter, freer, less encumbered. This experience starkly contrasted my early life conditioning.
Education and family background informed this being that knowledge was an absolute good; knowing more, thinking more thoughts, holding more opinions, accumulating more mental data – the cerebral equivalent of those crabs that accumulate moss on their backs.
I approached spiritual practice the same way.
Read more. Think more. Grow more moss.
The 2005 Thai retreat was the first time I seriously questioned the value of gathering thoughts and opinions for their own sake, and began to see that spirituality may not actually center on acquisition after all.
The real benefit seemed to come from pitching non-essentials over the side.
I still didn’t see how deeply true this was.
But I would.
Crossing the Gate demands a radical simplicity.
Not much room for non-essentials.
Thoughts top the non-essential list, ninety-nine times out of a hundred.
Suppose you ask yourself, what am I unwilling to part with ?
Which precious beliefs and opinions are too important to even look at closely, much less let go – even for a moment?
What am I afraid to lose ?
That answer may shed light
on where you are in the process
of lightening the load
until the day there is no load
no one carrying,
and no process owned.
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