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Resource for All the World’s Sorrows

Sorrows

Guided Nondual Meditation by Michael Taft

Introduction

Welcome to tonight’s meditation. This is a guided meditation. I’ll talk a lot and suggest things to meditate upon. You are very welcome to follow that guidance. You’re also welcome to not follow it, and just do whatever you want. The only rules are: be quiet and stay unmoving, okay? So whatever meditation you’re doing in the depths of your own experience is fine as long as you can sit still in a relatively quiet way. If you do join in the guidance and I’m moving along, and moving along, and you’re liking it, and then it goes into a place you don’t want to go, or you don’t get what I’m doing, or it doesn’t feel comfortable, just back up, and stay where you were at. Just keep doing whatever we were doing the last time it felt good. You are in charge of your own meditation. If you don’t like what I’m doing then, do something else. You are your own boss and in control of your own vehicle. These are all meditation suggestions.

Meditation

Let’s begin, as usual, by asking ourselves the question, What’s it like to be me right now? Don’t imagine the answer. Instead, look in your own experience right this very moment. What is it like to be you right now? Just feel your feelings, and notice your thoughts, and check in with how your body’s doing, etc. Just take the weather report of your own being. What’s it like to be me right now? Then just sit with that a little bit, and whatever it’s like to be right now–this is the important part–let it be that way! Don’t try to fight it, or control it, or change it, especially don’t judge it, or decide it’s the wrong state or something. Rather, just let it be the way it is. Let’s sit with that together for a few minutes just continuously checking in with what it’s like to be you right now.

Now, just in whatever way, see if you can come into a little bit more presence, simply by noticing what it’s like to be you right now. Then just being with that as completely as possible. Just what you’re feeling in your body right now, just what emotions you’re feeling right now, just what thoughts happen to be passing through your neurons right now. Just be with that, and be with the deafening roar of the HEPA filters and the light in the room and the other sounds around you. Just allow yourself to be with this multi-sensory John Cage-type moment, as totally as possible. It’s really rather easy to do. Feel what it’s like to be present with all of that right now. Maybe your nose is running, maybe you’re yawning, maybe you’re mildly nauseous, it’s all good. Just sit with exactly that, just the way it’s coming up. But staying with it, not trying to solve it, not trying to change it, not wishing it wasn’t there, not deciding it’s unjust, that it’s not there or anything like that. Just let it be there. Notice the urge to get away from it, or to change it or to judge it, or to distract, distract, distract, and you may even notice a kind of self-pity. I shouldn’t have to sit with this back pain, I shouldn’t have to sit with my crazy racing mind, I shouldn’t have to sit with these emotions right now, or whatever. That’s the resistance, that’s the ego drama that’s playing out, even being present with your own experience. I shouldn’t have to deal with this shit–but that’s just another thing to sit with, and let be that way, and just notice.

Can you sit in the presence of your own inability to sit in presence? Sit in presence, or with the present. I find it intolerable that we forgot to light all the candles. Why should I have to deal with this, God damn it.  It’s always something that we’re resisting. That’s just the way it is. 

Now we’re going to raise our energy level a little bit to do the rest of this work tonight so if you know how to do Bhastrika pranayama, just have at it. If you don’t, then remember that’s not alternate nostril breathing, that’s fast bellows breathing.  If you know how to do that go for it. If you don’t, what you’re doing is, you’re pulling your stomach in very quickly on the in breath as like a pop and then just letting go but you’re doing it fast. If you’ve just eaten a lot of food, just do a little bit of that, and do it slowly. If you’re in a good place to do it, we’re going to do it for a while here, so just go ahead and do some Bhastrika. If it’s helpful to do it with a mantra, the mantra I would suggest using is “soham.”

If you didn’t have a big dinner, and it works for you, you can do it at a pace such as this. We’re going to do it for several minutes, so make it work for you. If you don’t want to do pranayama, that’s fine, but the idea is to raise our energy level a little bit so that we’re able to get outside our conditioning a little bit. Let’s go ahead and do that.

I’m talking, so I’m not continuously doing it, but I wish I could continuously do it. Remember, you don’t need to move your shoulders at all. You don’t have to move your face, it’s just your belly. So it can be a very relaxed thing to do. We’re going to go another 90 seconds, so keep going, don’t wear out, unless you’re done. If you’re done, that’s okay. It can be really helpful to, if you’re a good visualizer, visualize a white light in your forehead while doing the mantra soham, soham soham soham. 

You didn’t think you were going to get your core workout tonight as part of your meditation, but here’s added value. It’s going to be a hot meditator winter with a lot of pranayama. In a minute, I’ll give you a direction, only do this direction if you feel like it. Keep going, keep going, keep going. Don’t stop, just a little more, little little bit more, now a  big big big big big in-breath. Hold on the top of the in-breath. When your lungs are completely full, hold it as long as you’re comfortable. I mean if you must breathe out, go ahead, but otherwise, hold it, hold it, hold it. Then, plugging your right nostril with your thumb, let it out the left nostril. 

Very good. Now just sit with that for a minute, feeling the energy in your body. We raise our energy a little bit to give us a little extra juice, so we can step outside our habitual patterns. If we stay at our normal energy level, the habitual patterns usually have that so optimized, they just continue to take over. But if we raise it up a little bit, we have the opportunity to do something different. 

Good. What I’d like you to do, as usual now, is to just notice the natural wide openness of awareness. Not making it wide, not forcing it, but simply feeling the already existing wide openness. How do you know it’s wide open? Well, if you’re not narrowing your concentration on anything in particular, you can hear the whole room around you. You can see even behind you, you can hear in all directions, you can see all around you. Without doing anything, you can feel your whole body. Awareness is just naturally open. It’s not narrow, so we call that boundlessness, or the sky-like quality of awareness that it’s just open and free. You’re not doing anything to make it open, it’s just like that. Some people have been practicing their breath-holding. Very good. 

From this place of wide open awareness that is naturally free, naturally boundless, simply privilege the awareness of the rising and falling of the breath very, very slightly. We’re not narrowly focusing on it, and we’re not certainly not drilling down into the breath or anything. We’re just noticing the rising and falling of the breath wave in this very open, boundless wide awake clarity of the sky-like mind. Even a child could do this, it’s nothing hard. You’re just sitting, allowing your mind to be wide open, and noticing that breathing is happening. 

The important part here that is just a little bit more difficult, is if you notice that you keep narrowing attention, if you’ve got a habit of narrowing, tightening attention, we’re letting go of that. We’re not doing vipassana on the breath at the nose or something. It’s almost the opposite move of attention, it’s very naturally broad, wide-open, no tension in it at all, but furthermore, do not narrow the mind into grabbing onto thoughts. We like thoughts, we’re happy thoughts are happening. Thoughts are not a problem. Thoughts are not the enemy. Think as much as you want, just don’t think on purpose, and don’t grab on to any thoughts that arise. 

This can be either super easy–I’m just not going to touch those things –or if you have a strong habit of meshing, of velcroing, right onto thoughts, then it’s a little bit more effort to kind of disentangle yourself. You ever had a friend or a relationship where you just couldn’t disentangle? It can be like that sometimes, where there’s just a lot there, and it wants to stay tangly. So, don’t get in a big fight with that. Just as much as you can, do not grab on to thinking or narrow your attention onto thinking, or, and this is important, don’t think on purpose at all. 

You’ll notice, even if you don’t think on purpose, lots of thoughts are happening, because they just happen. Thoughts are like breathing, thoughts are like digesting, thoughts are like, your blood salinity level, it’s just one of those things that just changes. It changes, it does its thing. But you don’t have to be involved with it, just like you’re probably not all that involved with your blood salinity level. I mean you might be, but probably not. So it’s just happening. Don’t grab onto it.

I’m going to be quiet now for a while and we’re going to sit with a sky-like mind, noticing the breath wave rising and falling and not engaging with any thought at all. If you do that’s okay, just disengage, and to the extent that you can, just keep feeling that presence. Feel your body, feel your emotions, feel that thoughts are happening, but don’t engage. Just keep sitting with that rising and falling breath while remaining very very present, right in the here and now. How do we stay in the here and now? Just connecting with the senses. 

Now, if you can, feel this breath wave rising and falling in the sky of experience, notice the energy associated with that breath wave. I don’t mean imagine, just notice that you can feel that it’s kind of bubbly and tingly, or has this real vibrational or wave-like quality that is quite pleasant. So, it’s not simply, oh, the meat is opening and closing, expanding and contracting, there’s actually a real sense of this buzzy tingly energized quality. 

A quick way to notice that, if you’re having trouble noticing it, is to let go of any mental image of your body at all. Don’t imagine anything, not even your normal imagination of what your body looks like. Then, you’ll just feel the sensations with no containing, or restraining, or defining, or confining body image, and that’s when it’s very easy to notice this energetic quality of the breath. Then just feel that energy quality rising from the perineum all the way up above the head with each breath. 

As you do that, notice the central channel opening. This is not your spine, this is the central channel, directly from your perineum in a straight line to the top of your head. You’ll just feel that energizing and opening and energizing and opening, and as it opens and and and becomes more alive and more awake and more vibratory, begin to notice that there’s a lot of space available in there. Room in the the central channel, very large, boundless space right up the center of your body that’s just energized and free flowing and free and awake. In a way it’s almost like there’s all the space in the room around you and then the body has this energized feeling of being, and then within that is another just space, almost like a torus. If that’s available to you, notice that within this moving energy is just wide open, boundless, wide awake space in the central channel, primordially pure, always already present, wide awake. It’s very interesting, within all that movement, and all that energy, if we look into that spaciousness in the central channel, just notice its primordial purity. Notice that it’s never, ever not absolutely fresh and clean. Notice that fresh and clean quality.

Tuning into this spaciousness that’s available, not only is it primordially pure, fresh and clean, notice that it is welcoming. It doesn’t say no to anything. It has this tremendous quality of welcoming whatever arises, whatever is there. The space says hello, yes, welcome, to everything. It’s fundamentally warm and welcoming in that way. 

Tuning into this wide open, boundless, pure, and welcoming spaciousness, at the center of our being. Furthermore, notice that it is playful and spontaneous, it’s never stuck, it’s never dull, it’s never collapsed or concrete. It is playful, it is spontaneous. That’s part of its freshness–it’s always new, it’s always playful. And, notice that that’s there without us doing anything. We’re just noticing it. It’s always there, it’s always been there, it’s been there before you were here. In a way of talking, you are just its expression, part of its playfulness.

Notice that this boundless space within is, in fact, boundless. It’s not within, it’s not somehow enclosed by the skin or by the image of the body. It has no boundary at all. It radiates out in all directions without limit. It is truly boundless. Notice that it’s also groundless. You can’t find any ground there. It is spontaneously arising from nothing.

Now, you can either stay with that, or if you want to try something a little more intense, we’re going to do that now. But if you’re not in the mood for intense, just stay here, be with this warm and spontaneous, welcoming, pure openness that is wide awake, and just keep dwelling with that. 

For those who feel ready to try something kind of intense, kind of difficult, tune into that real groundless wide-open space that is boundless. It has no limits of any kind. Into that boundless space, I want you to begin, on purpose, bringing up the sorrows of your life right now. Things that you are sad about, and, without denying that sadness at all, but rather being present with it completely, let it also meet that wide open, infinite, vast, boundless, groundlessness, which is wide awake to its sadness. 

On top of it, what about the sadness of those around you? The people you love, the people you care about, their trials and difficulties and problems and sorrows. Instead of denying that, or trying to somehow distract from it or make it go away, really bring that up very clearly right now. People are sick, people are broke, people are crazy, people are dying, people are going through terribly sad breakups, people are losing their jobs, people are getting in car wrecks. Really bring up those feelings very clearly, but don’t get lost in it. Allow it to arise within this vast, pure, boundless, wakeful spontaneity. Again, if it’s too hard, just hit the panic button and go back to just breathing with space. But I encourage you here because you’ve got this boundless space as your resource. If that’s very clear, then just really bring up these feelings without any limit. 

And why limit it to just those around you? What about people everywhere? There’s certainly enough murder and mayhem, and disease, and bad luck, and starvation, and oppression, and torture, and everything else you can imagine. Way more than you could ever imagine. Just feel the true sorrow of that. It’s just sad. 

And why limit it to people?  Animals are having a rough time. Is there suffering any less sad? It might be worse. So, really feel that in your body, feel it, let your heart ache, while maintaining contact with this vast, clear, spontaneous, open, welcoming, pure spaciousness. It doesn’t make the feelings vanish, but it does give you the ability, the power, we might say, to sit with all that and not be destroyed by it. So just breathe, and in the simplest way, just feel all that sorrow right in your body, without any filtering, just let it really be there. The sadness of the world. 

Notice how there is also a kind of very intense poignant beauty right in that same spot, but we’re focusing on the sorrow. I encourage you here, where you’re in contact with this resource of this tremendous spaciousness, to just turn it up to 11. Really feel it–let your heart break, don’t hold back. Notice the urge to distract, or get abstract, or focus away, focus away, focus away. I want you to focus on how it feels in your heart, and in your belly, and in your mouth, to just feel the sorrow of the entire world. The veil of tears, as it is called. This is a horribly sad place sometimes. 

However much suffering are you experiencing now, just magnify that by billions and billions and billions, never losing contact with this wide open spacious freedom and clarity. Even if your chest is seizing up and you almost can’t breathe, it still has room to breathe. The energy is still moving, you’re sitting with the feelings, just feeling it, not trying to escape it, letting it be

there. Trying to not feel–this is why you’re always numbing out and distracting and doom scrolling, because you’re trying to escape this. But notice, you can feel it, and again, come back to the simple presence of these feelings, these emotions in your body, in your belly, in your heart, in your jaw, in the way it almost makes you unable to breathe when it’s really intense. It’s simply feeling it, but remaining present with the wide open, wide awareness. 

Don’t check out, stay here, right in this room, right with these feelings, letting the boundlessness and welcoming and spontaneity give the room it takes to handle it. That is its gift, is that there’s so much room, it’s boundless, it’s a billion galaxies larger than your body, there’s more than enough room for these feelings, without denying them or suppressing them.

Now, letting go of thinking of those things. Just sit in simple openness, breathing with that vast boundlessness in the center, the vast groundless, boundless, wide awakeness. Simply breathing with this, noticing that you can sit with these feelings, not denying them, really there with them for once, and yet not spun out. You may notice that the energy that you were feeling before, the energy that we were seeing in the breath, is now really through the whole body. Very much energy is happening. Why? Because we’re coming into our actual body, our actual feelings, we’re not distracted. When you really feel the body directly without any conceptual mediation, and it just feels like buzzy energy, that’s very pleasant. 

Just let the boundlessness handle it. Feel the feelings, let the boundlessness handle it, let that vast space be with it. Notice how present you are right now in your body, in your experience. Feel the energy and wakefulness that has arisen, simply by not numbing out and distracting. Don’t engage with all those thoughts–that’s numbing out and distracting. 

Feel how wide awake you are right now. A kind of clarity arises. It’s actually there all along but we’re just recognizing it now, and since this wide-awake, wide openness is boundless, it’s truly boundless, there’s no limit. I want you to do something very brave and very loving, which is, just open up this wide awake, wide openness to all beings. Remember, it’s welcoming, it doesn’t ever say no or push away, so open it to everyone who’s suffering everywhere. Every animal, every person everywhere, grant them this wide openness, so they, too, find this relief, this infinite ability to be with what’s happening. This ability to find relief, to find caring and kindness and love, this ability to feel safe and comfortable and held, and to belong. Lend the whole universe this space. It’s big enough for all of it. Give it away, lend it out, just release it entirely, letting the whole universe into the vast spacious, primordially pure, ever fresh, spontaneous playful, thankfulness, and feel how gentle that is, and how kind it is, and how comforting it can be, and how sweet it is.

Keep sitting with simple breathing, feeling the feelings, not engaging with thought, just being with this moment here. Simply present, simply wide awake, hearing, feeling, seeing. We didn’t generate the vast boundlessness, we didn’t make it up, or somehow imagine it, so there’s nothing to do. It’s just there as long as we’re not distracting ourselves from it.

Now, see if you can remain in contact with this simplicity, and this purity, and welcoming

openness, even after the meditation comes to an end. It’s still there, it’s not an imaginary thing, it’s not a special state we’re generating. We’re calming down enough to notice it, or alternately, energizing up a little bit enough to get out of our distraction, and noticing it. 

Okay, very good. Let’s end that there.

Dharma Talk

For those of you who went with me to the harder part of that meditation, good on you. That’s a little bit challenging, maybe even upsetting. But, in a way, what’s actually upsetting is that we ever stop thinking about that at all. It’s the most obvious thing about the world, is that it’s a hard place to be, and it’s a hard place for basically everybody. Some way more than others, but it’s still a place where we’re going to get old, and get sick and die, and probably struggle quite a bit along the way, to that end. 

A huge part of our existence, the way we live it, is just checking out from that in one way or another or many ways.  You can put in like 2500 hours into Battlefield and get like 50 points for every time you stab somebody, and that’ll just distract you from this particular thing. You can spend a lot of time doing all the things we do particularly just thinking about whatever, simply to not feel what you’re actually feeling, or notice what you’re actually noticing, which is–everybody’s suffering, everyone is having a hard time, everyone is doomed to be broken on the wheel and fucking croak. That’s it, right there, it’s so obvious and there’s nothing, I just have to say, it would be easy to sit here and judge that, but of course, I do it, you do it, and there’s very understandable reasons for just checking out of that brutality. I never would say that that’s somehow immoral, but on the other hand, there’s a big price to be paid, which is that when we numb out and distract from all the good stuff, too, the beauty is gone, the aliveness is gone, the spaciousness is gone, because we are kind of packing ourselves into a little cotton ball inside a mummy, inside a child protection egg, so nothing can really bump us around too much in there. 

So, it gets really stale, and unavailable for joy, and unavailable for beauty, and unavailable unavailable for just the feeling of being alive. Because, if you’re going to feel joy, and be available for friendship and love and communication and contact, if you’re going to be available for all the good feelings, you have to be available for that thing we just did. It all comes together. If you feel like–I can’t take all that pain and sorrow, and I must distract, and I must numb again, okay. However, just be an informed participant and recognize that then you won’t feel all the other stuff, too. It’s impossible, you can’t have one without the other. 

Again if we’re not actively working through severe trauma or something, which is a special case, the goal with this kind of practice is to be able to open up more and more and more to the full range of feeling, the full range of experience, and the full, not only beauty and joy and love and creativity, but the full cosmic horror of this place, which is very real. Your ego cannot do that. The machinery of your thought cannot do that, it can’t take it. A large point of the machinery of the ego structure is to protect you from ever having to do that. It has other functions, but that’s one of its things: I’m going to just contract down into this little drama instead of what’s experiencing and feeling what’s actually going on here. 

The structure of thought and the ego, and your regular sense of your body having this very constrained experience space just can’t handle it. But that’s not what you are, that’s a little fantasy that we build to try to not feel stuff. But it works the other way. If we start feeling stuff, and we start opening up, perforce, we will start to crack out of that egg shell, come out of the layers of mattresses, masking tape, and stuff, and start to actually feel what’s going on. That’s going to only happen when we’re also dropping the sense of the boundary, dropping the sense of being trapped in the mind. Noticing that there’s this vast space in which all of this can occur. And this boundless, groundless, primordially pure, ever fresh, wide-awake, clear space, can metabolize any amount of emotion. Not just one person’s emotion, a universe of emotion. 

So it kind of cycles. If we open a little bit to to spaciousness, we can feel more, and as we feel more, it’s going to crack open the spaciousness a little bit, allowing us to experience more, which cracks open the spaciousness a little more. So it just it doesn’t have to be one big boom. Little by little, you’ll notice that there’s way more than enough space to experience what is there to experience, and so even though we were using real via negativa, the really difficult, crushing machine of infinite death and pain to point to tonight, which is all real, that’s not some kind of fantasy. Look outside, that’s what there is. We’re using that to open up, but as soon as you open up to that, you open up to the other part, too. You start to notice the incredible beauty and the kindness that’s there in people and animals, and all the other rich emotions that are present when we open up that way. 

It’s not like, open up no matter how much it hurts. You can handle this if you do it little by little, working with spaciousness, energy, and wide-awakeness. You’ll notice that, after a while, you’re not afraid to have feelings. In fact, even some of the really big feelings that are normally very unpleasant will start to be, oddly, welcome, because they’re just opening up to the wide-awake spaciousness even more. It’s not some kind of fantasy. Just feeling your feelings, feeling the openness. It’s very simple.

I’ll stop there for now. If anyone has any questions, or anyone has any reports or comments? If nothing’s coming up, or you don’t feel like sharing anything, just sit and remain in the openness, feel what you’re feeling.

Questioner 1:  Hi, I’m gonna be that guy and admit to my worst thing. I didn’t feel anything about the sorrow of the world.

Michael: Okay, what did you feel?

Questioner 1:  Nothing. That’s something I’ve always been trying to work on, developing compassion and what-not. 

Michael: I didn’t say anything about developing compassion.

Questioner 1: That’s how I related to it.

Michael: What do you feel right now, about anything?

Questioner 1:  In this moment, I’m experiencing quiet, just curious why doesn’t that track for me? I’m envious of people who can feel things like that, they seem very motivated.

Michael:  Normally in a day do you have any emotions about anything?

Questioner 1:  Yeah, lots.

Michael: Do you ever feel sad?

Questioner 1:   Yeah.

Michael: That’s all we were pointing to. Hey, sometimes you can feel kind of sad. So perhaps it got too abstract. The world is sort of abstract, that’s why we started with the regular stuff you’re sad about. What about people around you? So, if you want to engage this, it’s not about some compassion idea, just about what makes you sad. Let’s start there, super simple. I bet you know some people who are having a hard time, and it’s kind of sad, so you just start with that. That’s enough, really. You notice how uncomfortable we can be with sadness. It’s almost, like, I don’t want to feel that, so that’s all we’re talking about. It doesn’t have to be big. I took it big, and I might have lost you there. Come back to the simplicity of your own life, the people you know, that kind of thing.

Questioner 1:  Thank you. 

Michael: Yeah, it’s easy to find.

Questioner 2:  This is a good follow-up for me. I think I was kind of the opposite. I felt it very, very deeply. I’m just visiting this week. I usually do these online. I came here with a question. The weird thing was what happened for me with this emotional opening and what usually happens relates to the question I came here with. In this opening, it feels like something that comes very easy to me, but it leads me into the state where it’s very easy for me to kind of fall into people, and for people to fall into me.

Michael: You’ve lost the sense of boundary, right?

Questioner 2:  Yeah, exactly. I become quite permeable, quite porous, and in that state, it can happen that either people transmit something to me or I transmit something to people. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m at a stage where I can fully control that.  I’m sure I’m giving an invitation and I’m not forcing anything, and I ask for feedback on that. It feels like a lot of responsibility, in a sense, to do this very consciously and without doing harm, or not be able not to do it, and what I’m looking for is a way to hold that boundary, to be able to invite but to never overwhelm, and to not be overwhelmed myself.

Michael: Yeah, this it’s a beautiful question, complex, beautiful question. I’ll try to answer it, partially, anyway. In one way, we could just kind of turn it up to 11 and be absolute about it, and just say the boundlessness can take anything, so just be wide open all the time, right?  The full view of cosmic-ness. But, of course, we’re also relative world beings. You wouldn’t just drink poison for no reason, we do have to maintain our relative world boundaries, and so even though the relative world boundaries can be present, they’re still empty. That’s the secret–you can maintain the relative boundary while still recognizing its emptiness. That’s the trick. It doesn’t have to be not there. Just because something is empty, doesn’t mean it’s not there. The hammer that hits your thumb is empty and the thumb is empty and the pain is empty, but it’s all

there. In the same way, you can have an emotional protection sense, or emotional boundary sense, that is both practical and yet not reified. Know what I mean?

Questioner 2:  70%, I think. Emptiness as a kind of linguistic reduction for the thing we’re speaking about tends to be something I kind of struggle with.

Michael: It just means spaciousness, or that it is not a thing. It’s there, but not a thing. So that’s something to play with, and it’s the direction that will work. But it might take a while to unfold.

Questioner 2:  Thank you

Michael: Very, very good.

Questioner 3:  Hey, Michael. Going off the reification, I guess it’s kind of like a codependent arising question.

Michael: It’s dependent co-arising. 

Questioner 3: Right. One of the instructions you had was we’re not imagining the energy of the breath wave, but we’re tuning into it, and yet it feels like that gets fabricated, or arises for me with the prompt, right? I’m not necessarily imagining it, but it doesn’t necessarily arise until that.

Michael:  This is a subtle point, but fabrication and reification are different. They often go together, but you can fabricate without reifying, so all I’m doing is pointing out that it’s there. I would assert that that energy is there all the time. I’m just saying notice that, and then you notice it. Not notice that, and then suddenly you’re generating it.

Questioner 3:  Right. I have a follow-up. When the instruction is to rest into the spaciousness or tune to the spaciousness, and then you might bring in different shadings or aspects of that maybe, like the great loving compassion that we can rest into. When we’re sitting alone, it’s like a subtle practice. Sometimes the instruction seems to be non-doing, but it seems like there is a subtle doing if I am leaning, inclining towards something like that, but if I don’t, if I just sit and non-doing, that may never arise, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but just curious about how to navigate cueing ourselves, but not cueing ourselves. Does that make sense?

Michael: Yeah, of course it does. I can give a facile answer. I don’t know if it will help, but if the doer is seen as empty, again the fabrication of a doer isn’t the problem, it’s the reification of a doer. You’re still breathing. Something is doing that, but you’re not reifying it. You can still go through a whole meditation technique with a tremendous amount of stuff to do, but if it’s non-reified, it’s just kind of happening, okay? That’s hard to work into, but that’s the direction.

Questioner 3:  That does help, thank you.

Questioner 4:  First of all, I just want to say it’s great to be able to practice with you in person after all these years, so thank you for that. 

Michael:  I know, welcome, thanks for coming.

Questioner 4:  It was a great experience. One thing that I wanted to ask about, you talk about spaciousness a lot. For me, the thing that I can point to more is this sense of solidity versus kind of flow. When I feel that kind of existential dread about the world, it actually gives me a lot of suffering. The sense of futility or nihilism, it feels very solid. It feels like it’s kind of weighing down, but when I’m able to practice with it, that opening up is really more for me a sense of movement. When I’m able to do it, I don’t sense as much as spaciousness, but I don’t know, are they the same thing? The sense of kind of breaking up the solidity into more of a flow and kind of being able to…

Michael:  They’re not the same thing, but the sequence that I often teach, and I led us

through here, which is that you’re in something seemingly solid, like the breath, and then eventually you’re noticing the wave-like properties of that. Eventually, you notice those super movements in that, so you’re going that far. But if you sit with the movement quite a bit, you’ll notice it starts to open up. The movement, the changing-ness and the energy will start to seem larger and more roomy, and then eventually, really a lot of room–that’s the spaciousness. So it’s into that energy and beyond.

Questioner 4:  Okay

Michael: But, that’s the right direction, for sure. The only thing that keeps it contained is a mental image of containment. This is like a super simple thing to do in terms of simplicity, but might be impossible, but some of you might instantly get what I mean. You just drop the mental image of your body, which is the image of containment, and then the feeling of energy will just go because that’s what it really feels like. All we’re doing is mentally picturing the containment. So, in other words, the spaciousness is always there. We’re just kind of jailing ourselves over and over with our imagination of what the body’s boundaries are. So, it’s not the same thing, but it’s in the right direction, okay? The impermanence leads to the openness.

Questioner 4:  Okay, thank you.

Michael: Thanks for all your questions, and just for being willing to go through that meditation, which is not an easy one. I would say that’s the direction that actual–I don’t know what word to use here, but I’ll just say, spirituality, goes, right? It’s not hey, I got mine I’m just gonna feel great, and fuck everybody. That’s just called narcissism, that’s not spirituality. This is about, hey, how are you doing? Connecting with the world, connecting with life, connecting with other beings, and that can be pretty intense. This is how we work with that intensity. It brings us right into the reality of life and death, and it brings us right into just this very moment, with your butt on the cushion. So thanks for being willing to work with that for a little while tonight.

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