“Grounding ourselves in the present moment,” discussion and summary

Sept. 19, 2017 Group Meditation Part 2 of 2

This discussion happened September 19, 2017 at the Boundless Love Project’s Group Meditation. Before listening to the discussion, we suggest you listen to this guided mindfulness meditation which preceded the talk. This discussion has been edited to improve its clarity, content, and to shorten its length.

Main Points from the “Grounding ourselves in the present moment” discussion

• There are four ways we discussed to remain grounded in the present moment:

  1. Keep some of your awareness on the sensations of breath.
  2. Keep some of your awareness on the sensations of the body.
  3. Keep some of your awareness on the silence in and around the sounds.
  4. Keep some of your awareness on the space or nothingness that is in and around all forms.

• Just as we don’t have total control over the fact that a river flows downhill, we don’t have total control over the thoughts, emotions, and the body, which is why we don’t mistake these things to be who we are.

• By being the watcher, we watch the thoughts, the emotions, the habit-patterns in an impersonal, calm, peaceful manner. When we mindfully pay attention to these internal forms, we start to see more clearly how our delusion causes us and others needless suffering. As we see this, wisdom arises on a deeper, felt-level that causes our behaviors to change with ease because the subconscious knows that the other options don’t make sense.

• For each delusion you observe, mindfulness in daily life progresses through three stages:

  1. Unmindfully acting out our delusions.
  2. Being mindful of our delusion and emotional disturbances and refraining from acting them out.
  3. Freedom from the delusion and responding to the situation with peace, love, compassion, and skillfulness.

Before meditation, we get caught up in the delusion and drama all around us. We act out our delusion causing suffering to ourselves and others. This is the first stage, and it contains a lot of suffering.

As we start to mediate and be mindful in our daily life, we enter stage two where we start to see our delusion and refrain from acting it out. Rather than immediately engaging externally with people and situations, we start to look inside and see what thoughts, emotions, and habit-patterns are arising and how they cause suffering to ourselves and others. There may still be disturbing thoughts and emotions, but by mindfully watching them, we don’t let them take us over and act through us in unskillful ways. We learn a lot in this stage. The more we see the delusion as delusion and harmful, and refrain from acting it out, the more that delusion is weakened in us.

In the third stage, the delusions have been seen so many times, they have no sway over the heart, mind, or body at all. When we encounter others are lost in delusion, or difficult situations, love and compassion naturally arise, causing us to respond in a skillful, open-hearted manner.

• Know on a felt and experiential level the differences between discernment and judgment.

There are important distinctions between discerning what is skillful and unskillful and judging what is “right” and “wrong.”   Discernment allows us to clearly see what is skillful and unskillful, what helps and harms life, while still acknowledging in an egalitarian manner that all life is valuable, important, and worthy of our love.

Internally, discernment feels calm, open, and spacious. There can be a mixture of pleasant and warm feelings from our love, as well as a tender sadness from our compassion for both the unskillful person and any who are harmed by their delusion-controlled actions. Externally, discernment wisely implements skillful actions that build, strengthen, and support life and community.

On the other hand, judgment, the way we define it, creates a hierarchy of who are deserving and who are not. Judgment contains a desire to label one group of people as “superior” to others and a desire to punish the wrong-doer or those who are not members of the “superior” group. Judgment leads internally to resentment, hatred, anger, and ill-will, which are toxic to the body. Externally, judgment leads to terrorism, wars, torture, killing, rape, factory farming, environmental destruction, and all other sorts of atrocities, which are toxic to life and our community.


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