Nondual Vipashyana on Thought and Feeling
Streamed live on Nov 18, 2021
We don’t goof around here. We don’t wait around. We dive right in. So, what I’d like you to do is to set up your space, make sure that your notifications are all turned off, that nothing anywhere is notifying you, there’s no phone, there’s no blinking lights, there’s no cell phones telling you anything, right? Everything’s turned off. If you’re watching this on a phone all the notifications are turned off. If you’re watching this on a computer all the notifications are turned off and you’re in a safe quiet space.
And then from there set up your posture. So, as usual, sit up nice and straight in a way that feels really, really nice. So, we want our body to be both upright and relaxed, so our spine is nice and upright, and our body’s relaxed. Once your spine is upright and the top of your head is kind of pulling upward a little bit, just let your spine wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, like a young sapling tree in a beautiful wet wind, just a gentle wind, just a nice light wind. And just move around like that a bit until you find just that right spot, just the perfect spot, where the spine feels utterly balanced, utterly at ease, and then come to rest there. Again, very upright top of the head pulling up, and the chin tucked a bit ,so never is your chin jutting up or out, never is your head tilted back, it’s always a little bit, tiny bit tilted down, so the topmost point of your head is really pulling upward.
Okay, and then make sure your shoulders aren’t tight and hunched forward. They’re relaxed and back. You have your hands either in this mudra, like this, right? Where the thumbs are just touching, they’re not pressed like that, they’re just touching. Or you can have each hand resting on your thighs, either like this–flat on your thighs, like that–in that mudra, or same mudra but on the backs of your hands, flat on your thighs. So, they’re not up like you see in photographs. They’re resting comfortably on your thighs, either way. Okay, so you have that mudra or you can do this mudra in your lap. So, those are our mudras for meditation. Mudra, of course, means gesture or hand pose but actually in its larger sense it can mean a pose of your whole body. But that’s usually called asana. So, when we’re talking about hand postures we call them mudras. It’s interesting because one of the traditions we’re inspired by is called Mahamudra, the great gesture, but in this case they’re not talking about a hand posture, they’re talking about something quite different than that. So, that’s a topic for another time.
In any case, once our posture is set up I want you to spend a moment to get your intention together. Why are you meditating? What are you doing? Meditating, right? So, we’re not just kind of arriving at the cushion chaotically, we’re sitting on the cushion, and then going, “okay, here’s what I’m doing. I’m meditating because of x, y, and z.” So, go ahead and do that while I take a sip of delicious peppermint tea because I’m guiding the meditation every once in a while I need to take a drink so my throat keeps working. However, when we are meditating, you typically would not move at all. So, if you watch the early videos I’m really adamant, because we’re in person all together in a space, that people stay really, really still. Because we’re doing these on youtube, and we are not in each other’s living rooms presumably, I haven’t been saying much about the movement, but actually, once we settle in it’s really important to just stay still. If our body moves very often that means our mind is going to move. And so when we fidget, especially if we fidget in a kind of distracted fidgety way, that makes our mind move in a distracted fidgety way. So we tend to want to let the body become very relaxed, not unmoving in a tight way, but unmoving in a relaxed way, like you’re so relaxed you can’t move. And then that tends to bring the mind into a very relaxed and still place as well for the length of meditation.
So, once we’re set up and we’ve set our intention then I want to bring in a metaphor with which to meditate and tonight’s metaphor is going to again be the element fire. So, I want you to see–well, first I want you to picture your meditation, and this is just like a poetic metaphor, but I want you to feel as if you are meditating like a fire. You’re meditating like a raging, burning fire, but it’s not crazy and chaotic. It burns really smoothly and really cleanly and it’s a kind of total purification, right? This fire is just consuming all difficulties. It’s consuming all negativity. It’s consuming all obscurations.It’s consuming all ignorance. It’s consuming all distraction. It’s consuming all fidgetiness. It’s consuming all our difficult negative self-talk. The fire is just burning, and burning, and burning, and utterly consuming that which might otherwise block or get in the way of our meditation.
And here there’s just this beautiful, bright, perfectly clean, clear fire that is just filled with energy. And that energy is pure, and that energy is bright. The energy is clear. That energy is giving you so much life support. It’s like this life energy raising up and just exquisitely expressing itself as this flame, and you might even see it–if you want to think of the biggest kind of fire–you might even see it as a kind of a sun, right? Or meditating like a sun. So, a picture of a sun in front of you. In the sun, again, it’s burning bright with the light of pristine awareness. It’s radiant and pure with the light of Buddha mind, and it’s utterly cleansing and purifying. It’s removing every kind of obstacle, removing every kind of obscuration, removing every kind of difficulty, removing everything that is not healthy, and healing, and loving, and sweet, and beautiful in your world, and in your mind. And it’s just this sun–this burning sun of fire in front of you is beaming a kind of total love, and total kindness, and total acceptance towards you. It’s very pleasant, it’s not somehow hot or difficult, rather it feels great. It feels almost like–how it feels to you is like how the sun feels to a plant. It’s life-giving, it’s utterly filled with support, and it’s giving you a kind of tremendous joy just to have this burning sun in front.
And you notice that when the sun is present it also brings confidence, and it also brings playfulness, right? There’s a kind of real joy going on there that has these other qualities like confidence and playfulness. The sun of enlightened wisdom, this fire of your own deepest pristine awareness.And now, on an in-breath, take that in. And instead of the usual spots I want you to let that sun drop all the way to the base of your spine. Let that sun just sink all the way into your perineum, and the spine there, and feel that flame burning bright.
And this beautiful flame of enlightened wisdom, again, it’s cleaning out your body. It’s removing any kind of toxins, or anything that doesn’t belong in your body. It’s removing any kind of foreign beings. It’s removing any kind of energy blockages. It’s removing any unhealthy anything, and it’s just purifying the entire body. And you feel your body begin to loosen and open, and you feel the fire going through every channel, every nerve system, all the cardiovascular system, all the fascia, all the muscle, even inside the bones. And it’s burning, and burning, and burning out anything that is diseased, or broken, or old, or that isn’t serving your complete health. And instead it’s just utterly filling your body with this kind of radiant wisdom, joy, love, but also healing and strength. And so just feel that now for a minute.
Good. And now, breathing deep, notice that that fire starts coming up your spine. And it’s almost like the spine itself is a kind of a torch, a flame that is burning perfectly, cleanly and without any smoke ,and in fact it starts to shine really bright like sunlight. So even though the base of your spine is kind of where it’s all coming from, the whole spine itself is lighting up and becoming more and more brilliant, and more and more powerful, and more and more beautiful, and more and more awake. And your whole body at this point–this fire in the spine is turning your whole body from a flesh body into a body of light, body of just pure light, and this light body has various colors and beautiful reflections. And this burning fire of wisdom, the exquisite flame of the Buddha nature, the utterly clear light of pristine awareness, and your whole body’s made of just that.
So, that’s our opening visualization and now you, in this spot, you can let go of the visualization if you want. And I want you to just now begin to allow awareness itself–because your body is just made of light, so awareness doesn’t feel stuck in your body at all, you have this vast spacious awareness. Awareness is very large, and very easy, and open. And then, coming into that awareness you notice the breath, the rising quality of the in-breath, even though the air is going down, there’s a feeling of rising up in the in-breath and then the sort of dropping quality in the out breath as we breathe out. And so with this very vast awareness, very, very open awareness, perfectly pristine ,clear, bright, awake, we meditate on the coming and going of the breath. Let’s just do that together for a while here.
And at this point we’ve let go of the vision entirely, and instead, we’re just resting as open awareness. And I want you to make sure that even though you’re not focusing hard on the breath, like trying to get every detail, you are staying with it continuously, you don’t miss a moment of that breath. You’re not, again, you’re not focusing sharp, you’re letting awareness stay wide but the breath comes into awareness really easy. It’s very easy to notice and so don’t miss a moment of it. Notice the beginning of the in-breath of the end of the in-breath, beginning of the out-breath and the end of the out-breath, stay with it continuously without any gaps.
Now, let’s continue to stay with the breath here, but now instead of just noticing the beginning and ends of the breath, I want you to stay with the whole breath, again just with open easy spacious awareness, not drilling down on the breath, or trying to hold on to it or anything, but simply allowing it to be in awareness. Continuously noticing every moment of that in-breath
and every moment of that out-breath, not missing any part of it, not the slightest part. Staying with it continuously, staying with it continuously. This is very easy for awareness to do unless we start chasing off after some fantasies or whatever. So just keep allowing awareness to notice every moment of the breath.
Okay. Good. Now let’s gently switch to our shamata without an object. So, we let go of the breath and simply rest as this spacious vast awareness in itself, right? So, awareness simply rests as awareness and awareness is not doing anything. If thoughts come up, it is not involved in those thoughts, feelings come up, it is not involved in those feelings, sights and sounds, body sensations come up, it is not involved with any of that. Rather it’s simply resting in itself. The metaphor is like it’s like a king or a queen on their throne, this royal personage on their throne, simply resting, and if it goes tries to–if they try to go out to do anything or meet anything, instead they just relax, and come back to resting. There’s no involvement with anything, okay? Rather, simply awareness resting in itself. And you’ll notice a kind of stillness in that awareness, and that’s what we’re looking for–is just allowing that stillness to get more and more still. Each time awareness starts to get involved in anything, just drop that and come back to awareness resting in itself. It feels very, very good. It’s just this broad, open, very clear, very awake spaciousness that rests in itself, uninvolved in anything.
Okay. Good. Now we’re going to do a variation on this that is actually really fascinating. And so, we’re still doing our shamatha. We’re still resting as vast spacious awareness. But now I actually want you to allow awareness to notice the contents of the mind. Instead of not being with them, now awareness can be with the contents of the mind, but remaining completely defused from them. So, previously we were just dropping the ball. Anytime we picked up a thought we just dropped it. Now the thoughts are allowed to come into the mind and awareness is noticing the thoughts but not getting inside them, not chasing them, not having desire for this thought and aversion to this other thought. We’re simply, it’s almost like awareness is simply observing thought arising and not interacting with it in any way but nonetheless really clear about its arising and passing, its movement, and so on. Simply allowing this perfectly still awareness to notice this movement of thought. This is called resting the mind in its natural state. So let’s do that now.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the thinking, so don’t let that happen. We’re resting as this vast spacious still awareness but just allowing the thoughts to come and go. We’re not looking away from them. We’re letting them simply arise in awareness and pass an awareness without getting into them at all.
Okay. Good. So, that was an extra shamatha step in there, and a different kind of shamatha that we haven’t done before called resting the mind in its natural state. And now we’re going to move into some vipashyana. And this week we’re going to return to doing vipashyana that we’ve done many times in these meditations which is vipashyana on thinking, right? So, remember in vipashyana we are seeing the emptiness of some particular arising, so now that we’ve been seeing these thoughts arise, now I want you to notice that the thoughts are empty. What does it mean that they’re empty? You see that they are ephemeral, dreamlike mental constructions. There’s nothing more ephemeral and constructed than a thought, so just notice. Let’s start out noticing the audio portion of thinking like the blah blah blah and just notice that it arises in the space of awareness, and vibrates in the space of awareness, and passes in the space of awareness. And the whole time it arises and it’s empty.
Remember empty doesn’t mean it’s not there. Oh, it’s there, but it’s just a kind of display, right? It’s a construction. So that’s the difference between a building and the scenery in a play. You have the back, the scenery, it’s not really a building, it’s just like an image of a building, and so it’s just made of plywood or something, and it’s just one side, or maybe even paper, but the idea is that. These thoughts are arising, and they’re completely like–almost like mist, or like clouds, or like dreams, and they never firm up into these solid objects. They’re totally ephemeral and we’re noticing that continuously about the thoughts while not getting involved in the content. When we’re doing vipashyana the content does not matter, it’s the phenomena of the thought and the idea that we see it as empty. It’s like a dream of a thought. So let’s try that now.
Good. Now let’s also include, together with this verbal part of thought, any of the image part of thought. So some people, and I’m one of them, have a lot of thinking that happens visually. And so, if that’s happening, again we’re not trying to make it happen, but if that’s coming into the mind of its own accord, then we’re seeing that as empty as well. And that again, that’s just like some kind of image on a screen it has no substance whatsoever, it’s completely utterly nebulous and ephemeral. And so we’re seeing the visual thoughts as nebulous and ephemeral. We’re hearing the visual thoughts as nebulous and ephemeral. And they’re utterly empty, and you notice how much of a relief that is.
Notice that there’s a sense of relief when the thoughts don’t have so much weight, and don’t seem so solid and real, but rather we notice their total constructedness, their utter empty, vaporous quality. It’s a real relief, and yet the thoughts are still there. We’re not getting rid of them or even changing them. We’re just noticing this property about them called emptiness. Notice how mental images, imagination, and verbal thoughts are just a kind of movie that plays in the head. It’s got sound and pictures, it plays in your head, and it’s possible to just get lost inside that all day. In fact, that’s what many of us do, but it’s also possible in meditation like this to step outside that movie and rather than being incited and believing it, just notice, like you might do if you were watching a movie on a tv screen at home. Sometimes you’re lost in the story but sometimes you back out and you’re just like, “it’s just a movie, it’s just on a screen” and that’s what we’re noticing now with the emptiness. There’s just mental images and mental talk happening and we don’t have to be involved in it at all. We can see its emptiness, we can see that it’s ephemeral and constructed.
Now let’s do the same thing with emotions. So we can let go of looking at the thoughts now, and instead notice if you’re having any feelings of any kind come up. It could be frustration, could be mild anxiety, it could be a nice feeling of joy, it could be a kind of a beautiful feeling of love or something like that. All feelings are welcome. All feelings are completely welcome, and at the same time I want you to notice that they are also empty. Again, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. They’re completely there, and yet at the same time they’re a kind of construction. They’re a kind of ephemeral, nebulous, je ne sais quoi, right? We’re just noticing their ephemerality so if there’s not a lot of emotions happening, then just keep working with thoughts. But if you are noticing even subtle tiny background emotions, tune into that ephemerality, tune into the constructedness, the emptiness of the emotions. And notice, when we’re doing this, you don’t get involved in the content. It’s not like, “oh, I’m feeling sad, I wonder why” that is, we’re not doing that. We’re feeling the sadness and just noticing its emptiness, notice that it’s a kind of ephemeral, constructed event happening in the sky of awareness.
Okay. So, whatever’s arising, we’re just seeing its emptiness. How do you know you’re really seeing the emptiness of emotion? Because the emotion won’t grab you so tightly. It won’t cause you to be quite as reactive. You’ll start to–even though it’s still there, and you still feel it, there will be less…it will sort of…it’ll be less sticky. It’s just arising and passing and that’s it’s ephemeral nature, and you’re not getting so caught up in it. And so there’s a kind of relief.
Okay. Good. Now we’ve looked at thought and feeling, let’s look at the emptiness of the sense of being you at all, so your story. Who you are, your history, your work, your family, what you’re trying to do, what you care about, all of that. When that kind of stuff comes up, just allow yourself to notice it as a mental construction. And now, also notice that it’s only composed of thought and feeling. So, we’ve already worked with thoughts, we’ve already worked with emotions. And so all this sense of your story, that’s going to be thoughts and feelings, all the sense of who you are as a person, it’s a kind of agglomeration, a mixture of thought and feeling. And again, it’s not that it’s not there. It’s not that it’s nothing. It’s definitely there in something, in one way. And in another way, notice it’s simply a mental construction, and it’s just arising and passing, like a dream. And then usually we hang on to this very tightly, our story of ourselves, but I’m not asking you to get rid of it. I’m just asking you to let it be utterly without any grasping, utterly without any holding onto it. Just notice, it’s like trying to hold on to a movie, or hold on to a dream, that just you can’t do that with it.
And so just allow this sense of self that comes up, sense of being me–I like this thing, I don’t like that thing, this is going well, this is not going well, I’m having a hard time with this, I’m not having a hard time with this, oh, that’s because I, or I hope this other thing happens–all those kind of thoughts. The thoughts that arise in the mind of a being, a person like that. We’re just gonna notice that all of that is utterly ephemeral, utterly nebulous, utterly dreamlike, utterly like a mirage, utterly and, completely, and totally, and forever–absolutely empty. Again, don’t get involved in the content, just notice it arise and pass, as completely empty. What a relief it is to notice the whole personality structure, the whole story of me is just like a kind of dream, like a magic picture show, arising and passing. And we don’t have to react to it in any way.
Okay. Good. Now let’s let go of that vipashyana, the vipashyana on thought and feeling, and the sense of self, and come back to the flame. The flame of enlightened awareness, and now the flame is coming together. It’s rising from the pelvic region and coming up, coming together in the heart, and you notice that the flame is solar, it’s like a sun, and it’s burning brighter, and brighter, and brighter. And this flame of utterly pure, utterly pristine, Buddha-level awareness is radiating out, just like the sun radiating out. Radiating out, bringing joy to all beings, bringing healing to all beings, bringing peace and contentment to all beings, bringing love and kindness and caring to all beings. Just radiating out–even just pure life force to all beings.If you look at the ancient Egyptian carvings, this, the sun in the sky has rays that come out of it, and on each of those rays, there’s a hand. On the hand, each hand is holding an ankh, and the ankh is the symbol of life, and this radiate radiant sun in your heart is beaming out this life, and this joy, and this peace and contentment, but also wisdom, and clarity, also playfulness, and spontaneity. It’s tremendously beautiful, and tremendously clear light that’s radiating out everywhere from the heart. And this is not your physical heart, this is the heart of your own enlightened awareness, your own pristine mind. And just feel that beaming out everywhere now to all beings, bringing happiness, bringing joy, bringing healing, bringing life, bringing love, bringing peace on earth, and on all earths, on all planets everywhere, and healing the environment. And bringing kindness, and caring, and a sense of dignity, and equality to even all the animals on the earth, and every river, and every stream, and every rock, and every plant, and every bird, and every drop of water in the ocean, and every cloud, and every fish, and all beings on the entire earth becoming healed, and joyous, and thriving, again.
Good. Let’s end the meditation there. You can notice that even that whole vision is itself just a kind of a dream, it’s itself a construction of thought and feeling, and yet it has a powerful sense, right? You can still feel all the joy, and the beauty, and yet it’s also ephemeral, it’s also empty. Let yourself notice that emptiness now. And how that doesn’t somehow make it less than, doesn’t somehow make it nothing, doesn’t somehow make it go away, but rather we’re just not caught up in it in this tight way, right? We see that it’s simply an expression, simply a construction of mind.
Good. So, allow yourself to move and stretch. Do some cat stretching. Oh, stretch like a cat. Ohhhh! Oh, this is how my cat stretches. Feel how good that feels to stretch. Let your body move in whatever way feels really good right now. It doesn’t have to be big movement, it can be small movement, any kind of movement. Just feel how good your body feels to move and stretch. Allow yourself to have a sip of delicious mint tea. That’s so good.
And then we’ll just continue here talking about the emptiness of thought and feeling.
You know, emptiness is a funny concept. It’s a Buddhist word, right? We don’t usually use that word in any other context, at least not with that meaning, in regular English. We might say, the bucket was empty and its emptiness allowed us to put milk in it. Milk in a bucket because we’re on a cow farm, a dairy farm, but that’s not the kind of emptiness we’re talking about here. It’s a totally, utterly different kind of emptiness. It doesn’t mean nothingness or or not-there-ness in the way that the English word emptiness usually does. Rather, it means ephemerality. It means dream-likeness.
Notice I’m not saying dream, because you know that has a really specific definition of you’re asleep at night, and you’re having rapid eye movement, and all that. Dream has a very specific meaning, even though in English we can also use dream in a less specific way to mean, “I dream of someday buying a house” or whatever. It can have more of the sense of just any kind of mental visualization, right? But in this case we’re not even narrowing it down to even visualization. It just means that’s why I’m saying dream-like. It’s like thoughts arise, but in this case we’re talking about the emptiness of thoughts, thoughts arise but they are simply mental constructions.
And what’s so crazy, what’s so strange, and it’s almost bizarre when you think about it, is that most people–and me included, for a lot of my life–are walking around with a movie playing in their heads. It’s got words and pictures, for some people it’s more words and almost no pictures, for some people it’s more pictures and very few words, for a lot of people it’s kind of balanced between them. But there’s this almost like daydream going on in your head, and you’re up inside it, like you’re really believing it, like it’s real–real in the sense of like as if you were asleep at night and you were having a dream. And you really think that that knife in the dream can cut you, or the food in the dream can fill you up, or whatever. And so notice as you’re walking around it’s like, “oh, I like this, and I don’t like that, and I want one of those, and I don’t want one of those, and I hope this person thinks this about me, and I hope that other person doesn’t think that about me, and what if this happens, and what if that happens” and all that’s just churning, and churning, and churning. But when we look at it phenomenologically, we see that it’s just some pictures in your head, so mental images moving around like on a screen, like light on a screen, and it’s also some talk–blah blah blah blah blah, and then it’s feelings too about that stuff, “oh, I get happy when I think about that, and I get bummed out when I think about that, and I get all excited when I think about that.” And so, in other words, we’re lost in a movie in our heads. We’re lost in a dream in our heads, and just like in a movie theater when we watch a movie, we’re having all kinds of feelings about what’s going on on the screen. We get freaked out when something bad happens to the protagonist, who we really like, and we get a sense of justice done when the antagonist, the bad guy, gets their just desserts and something happens to them. Or you know when it’s in a love story, when the lovers finally can get together, you can feel all this sense of joy, or warmth, or like some… So, whatever’s happening on the screen, there’s pictures, and there’s words on the screen, and you’re having emotions about it, right? And what’s so crazy is; we’re doing the same thing in our heads all day long. There’s images arising, there’s talk arising, and we’re having all kinds of feelings about it. “Oh, that person said that thing that makes me afraid, oh this other person is doing this other thing, oh, I get all excited about that, oh, this third person, I see that they’re dressed in a certain way, I have feelings about that.” Right? So, in other words, we’re just–there’s stuff going on in the world but we’re still involved in the movie in our head about that stuff.
And what I want to make clear is that that movie in your head is utterly empty, utterly ephemeral, utterly like a dream. That’s its emptiness-nature, right? Oh, it’s empty. I don’t have to be stuck up inside that thing all day, being run around like a rat race, having that thing turn me every which way. If you’re–you know this is the meaning of samsara, this is the meaning of why the world can be so difficult is that–if you’re stuck up inside the thoughts and feeling world, you have zero control. I mean, it’s just controlling you, you’re just reacting, and reacting, and reacting, and reacting, and you’re stuck up inside the reaction. And that’s like being in prison. But not just regular prison, it’s like the kind of prison where they make you break rocks or something all day long. It’s really, really unpleasant and yet so many of us spend so much of our time locked up inside that.
And what I want you to see when you notice it with emptiness over, and over, and over. See the constructed nature of that dream, so that you can step outside it and let it do its thing. We don’t have to stop it. We don’t have to somehow hate it, or make it go away. Furthermore, we don’t even have to make it into a beautiful dream. All we have to do is just notice its ephemerality, its empty nature from the outside, just allowing it to arise in awareness. And awareness just notices that this is just some thought and feeling arising, we don’t even have to get involved in the content. I mean, the content’s there if we need it, but most of us, for a lot of our lives don’t realize that that thought and feeling world is not actually us. We think it’s us sometimes but it’s not actually us, and the tightest, smallest, most absolutely in-bondage, lacking-in-freedom part of that thought and feeling world is the sense of self, story of me, where I come from, what I like, who I am, what my personality is like, what this means about me, what this means about my past, what this means about my trauma, what this means about this, that, and the other thing. All of that is a kind of bondage.
Your actual being is just this vast spacious clarity, this utterly joyous, playful, experience thing. And it’s spending all its time crawling inside this tiny little box of personality, and then shaking the box around, and the world shakes the box around, and you just get more and more beat up. Or, like I say sometimes, it’s like you’re a tennis shoe in a dryer just ga-ga-ga-ga-gunk, ga-ga-ga-ga-gunk because you’re just believing the story of me. And then letting yourself get just knocked around by it. And the crazy thing is that this is the opposite of emptiness, right? We’re making that story of me with its thoughts, and its emotions, and all its history, and all its ideas. We’re making that seem so real and especially because it’s me. We want it. We want to make it solid, and we want to make it lasting, and we want to make people understand it. You don’t understand who I am, you don’t understand where I’ve come from, and what I’ve seen, and you need to understand me because it’s real, and it’s serious, and it’s like just… Feel the energy around it. It’s like it’s the smallest, stiffest, saddest little cage and what’s hilarious is; it’s not even real. You know the way that we think it is, it’s just a dream. It’s like a picture in our heads, and some feelings we’re having. But what we really are is this vast pristine awareness that has no boundaries, that has no history, that has no story, that is indestructible, that is completely free, utterly free. You are free right now and just watch yourself say why you can’t do that, why? Oh, because of this thought and feeling. If I say, “look, you are utterly free right now of your story” and then just watch yourself, “no, but–my story…” and just, okay, notice that you do that. Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that interesting? All right, you grab onto what? I don’t want to give up my little cell. I don’t want to give up my little super uncomfortable cold steel cage. It’s like that would be the worst thing in the world, but would it?
You know, we just spent a long time in this meditation noticing the emptiness of that cage, noticing the ephemerality of that cage, noticing the constructiveness of that cage, noticing that it’s just a kind of dream-like picture show, and that we can stand utterly outside it, utterly outside it as just this vast spacious, utterly free, cognizance, right? Playful, spontaneous, effortless, cognizance. And of course, when we need to think, when we need to have feelings, that’s still there. It didn’t go away. It’s not like, you know, we got out a jigsaw and cut open your skull and took out the ability to think and feel. It’s all still there. It’s all still present. But we’re not caught up inside it, we’re not believing it. We’re not crazy glued up inside the ping pong ball anymore, right? We’re free of the ping pong ball, let go. Let go of the ping pong ball and fly free little bird because you are utterly free of all that. And how? We just see the emptiness, just to see the fact that it is a mental construction, it’s a movie playing in your mind, right now, movie playing in awareness right now and that’s not you. It is not you, okay? So that’s what I want to say tonight.