Touching Softly at the Base

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Man was afraid of darkness, thunder, lightning, fire, storm, hail, tsunami, words, sounds, ideas, itches, sickness, pain, death, etc, etc, etc…  And out of these fears of nature, some gods were made and a several factions of faith were born. So when man begged for there to be Light… and somehow, some Light was granted, man was astonishingly happy with the situation for a few seconds, until…

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Hell not me… I didn’t ask for Light, ‘cos Light or no light, I got a torch. And “until shit happens” completes the sentence above.

I did however, asked for something else. Nothing extraordinary, just a powerful and solid base of meditation. You see… 2 years ago, this base was clear, but now it seems fuzzy.  A place where the mind could call home, a place it returns to often, and with each movement, it moves from this place. Known as “Sati-pa Thana” in Pali, the base of meditation is paramount to the practice.  Because Mindfulness has a much easier time noticing the actions.

Solution?
A 45-day fast.
Thaaat’s Right!
Skin & bones here I be-come!
Besides, It was a challenge somebody threw at me a few years back, and now I’m takin’ it on babay!

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The hardest bit about fasting is the first 4 days. It is the waiting period for the 7metre long fertilizing power plant called intestine to realise it no longer needs to operate. And man! One comes to realise just how power-hungry this fertilizing plant truly is! A lot of energy returned once it was switched off. On the 5th day, I felt a lot of my strength coming back and on the 7th day, I could hear my fists cut through the air when I threw punches. No… this isn’t my first time fasting, so these effects are nothing new to me, but they do help keeping the records accurate.

Meditation was deep and automatic, without any obligatory focus required… so deep in fact that any half-of-an-out-breath was sufficient to induce stillness. A lot of body weight was lost in the first week, after that it stabilised. Hunger was gone. The mind became quick and alert in short bursts and diving straight back into stillness as soon as it felt like it, back and forth, switching modes between stillness and awareness.

When stillness was too deep for too long, Knowing became frustrated. It was a tug-of-war game, for short burst of time Knowing kicked in, but the weight of stillness pulled it back out again. Brain & body were weird, a bit awry at times, comparable to a super computer with a crappy power supply. Mood swing hormones galore, it was “Interact with me and I’ll immediately annoy the crap out of you.” frame of mind.

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Day 8: Stupid
Stillness made it happy and stupid once again. Good one minute, evil the next… wishing to reign hellfire upon the most dangerous species of virus on Earth, Humans. But it wasn’t long before good sought its way back… laughing, crying tears of joy, sending thoughts of love & compassion, none of which were compassionate since they were all one-sided thinking. Stillness was heavy… it didn’t like to move.  Knowing, all the while got pissed off because it kept missing the actions. Resulting in double extremes… Too still and too deep, unable to observe the present moment. Too agitated, confused, scattered and moreover unaware, incapable of observing anything.

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Day 9: Touching softly at the base of meditation.
Calm after the storm works like the song titled “Fragile” by Sting. After getting lost and buried in the underground tunnels the mind had dug for itself… patience and wisdom delivered it out of its hole. Rising above stillness, still touching softly… Knowing worked. The present moments became clearer and clearer as the day progressed.  The mind became light and active, not heavy as before.  Mindfulness matched the speeds of both body & mind.  Knowing gently, softly, not disappointed, not happy nor sad, and above all… not conned.

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Tomorrow is simply another day.
Same struggling body & mind,
but rather a mind with stronger base than before.

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In Dhamma – another burning suggestion like the rest.
Phra Mick Ratanapanyo Bhikkhu.

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5 Responses to “Touching Softly at the Base”

  1. Hello Phra Mick,
    Are you fasting at the moment for 45 days? I remember you fasting on your birthday when you were at Sunnataram 🙂
    In this post, I found a sentence that I think somehow contradicts in itself. It is “too still and too deep, unable to observe the present moment”. Can you please explain a bit more of what you mean?

  2. Stillness…. known as Samadha meditation is when the mind clings onto a single feeling, usually something it likes. When forced… this is known as “Samadhi” (concentration), however, when it isn’t forced… it is called “Samma Samadhi” (right concentration). The difference the two is the wisdom, knowing that the mind does it all by itself.

    If this “aiming at focus” process becomes stronger, it may enter into a Jhanna (deep concentration) and hence the white light that people see in their meditation. Breath stops and sometimes the body bends forward from lack of breathing.

    Strong focus also means that observation is shot. In Vippasana Meditation (awareness meditation), the awareness kicks in right after one exits from Jhanna meditation.

    What I meant by “Too still, too deep and too long… unable to observe the present moment” is exactly that.

    Did it help with your answer?
    pm.

  3. To Thao,

    It just dawned on me right at this moment…
    When i thought about your question in my blog regarding how it seemed contradicting.

    I see what you mean now.
    Most of the time, when I watched the mind, the watcher simply disappears after it saw a thought, bodily movements, bodily feelings, etc…

    Of course I could see both the mind and the watcher (also the mind) move by themselves. However, with the base as a place where it returns automatically, this became a nicer feature to have
    with my mindfulness training.

    Does that help answering your question?
    pm.

  4. Thank you Phra Mick. Could you please explain again what you meant to say in that sentence? I haven’t got the idea clearly. I’m so sorry 😦

    Regarding your second comment, in the last paragraph first sentence, are you talking about the mind as being wondering mind and the watcher as being the awareness knowing the wondering mind?

  5. Mano Adhito = The Mind is a Flame!
    Means the mind isn’t “SELF”
    But that’s just me and many other masters talking.

    ———————————————————————
    In some theories and practices of Buddhist sects,
    They believe in the Original Mind to be ‘SELF” and it possesses 5 qualities:
    1. Thought
    2. Memory
    3. Feeling
    4. Ability to connect to devices (Vinyanam) such as eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch.
    5. Ability to Focus (Apijja) and create things with Universal elements.

    According to their version of Patijasamutbada (12 links of dependent origination),
    The original mind existed along other minds in pure SPACE.
    This according to them was Natural Phenomenon (as in nobody created this state of existence).
    Otherwise known as Nibbana.

    The Original Minds could see nothing else but other minds.
    All of its qualities worked constantly… thoughts, memories, feelings, etc…
    But feelings only returned information of “ZERO”

    Eventually one day, it thought “What if… there was something more than just Minds?”
    So it used the focus (Apijja) to create an object, which it falls in love with.
    First Love.
    However, creation goes against the laws of physics ACTION => REACTION.
    And that object quickly disintegrated.
    First Heartbreak.

    Saddened, but not given up all together, the mind focused again and again, creating more objects.
    Its aim is to keep the object alive as long as possible.
    No success… until it thought “What if… I could live inside this object and keep it alive?”
    In order to take control inside this new robot (which could be just a bacteria at the time),
    It had to create a software which helped it drive this robot.
    Thus the Original Mind made the 5-aggregates (according to the 12 links of dependent origination).
    Later it comes to call the robot ME.
    ———————————————————————

    I hope I haven’t bored you with the details of this reply.
    However my point is… in some practice they see the Five Aggregates as “NOT SELF”,
    but the Original Mind as “SELF”
    Because IT can be controlled.

    But in my practice, I see this Original Mind move by itself.
    Because it too is unable to remain in one state too long.
    It suffers just like the rest.
    This is Buddha’s 1st Noble Truth.
    So my answer to you is “Yes, both the watching mind and the thoughts move by themselves.”

    Does this help answering your question?
    pm.

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