Monday, August 23, 2004

Eyes Wide Shut

About a month ago I switched to always meditating with my eyes open, after pretty much always meditating with my eyes shut for the last 16 years. In the past I'd tried to switch, but found my ability to concentrate greatly impaired, so had reverted to keeping them shut.

However, it has been 3 years since switching to Mahamudra view and method, and several times recently I've read teachings which seemed to very pointedly advise to meditating with eyes open. So, I thought it was time to try again.

So often it seems that teachings jump out at me which seem 'meant for me', and seem to carry the imprint of my teacher, Shangpa Rinpoche, regardless of their not being written or spoken by him, but are actually the words of another teacher. Nevertheless, as I hold the view that all things that arise in mind are inseperable from the mind of my guru, it seems very clear when other teachers' teachings or indeed, other things in the world, arise in my mind, inseperably from my teachers intent. How useful indeed is that view!

Well, this time has been very different. After 4 weeks it seems so natural and 'right' to keep the eyes open in meditation. Indeed, whenever I shut them for a moment if my gaze is too 'strong', then I immediately feel the inclination to open them again. So it seems that a new 'habit' is here for a while ... of meditating with the eyes open.

So how has this been different? This last few weeks, I've noticed a sense that my meditation is even less somehow 'different' from the rest of my day, or other activities. Or, if you like, my formal practice is less seperate from my informal practice. It seems as though I'm somehow more integrated, with less distinction between meditating and not-meditating.

Why might this so? My feeling is that there is a subtle symbolism in keeping the eyes open as being less of a 'cutting myself off' or less of a constraining of conditions when I meditate. It's as if there is symbolically less distinction betwen them. And this fits in, it seems to me, with the Mahamudra approach, which is such a natural approach, and one which is, in a sense, more gently integrated with daily life, or able to be gently integrated, than some other approaches to meditation.

With Kagyu Dharma I've increasingly moved away from the approach of setting things up a certain way to support practice ... and wanting things to be a certain way ... for example, doing retreats, group study, mixing with lots of Buddhists, and grown into an approach with just allows things to be the way they are, and, however they are, just looking into the nature of mind ... right there at that moment, at work, with family, wherever. So it becomes less and less like practice is one way, and there is something else (presumably non-practice, or non formal practice) which needs integrating into. So life becomes a whole, it just is what it is, and I just look at the nature of mind, whenever, and wherever I am.

So for me, having the eyes open in meditation, and adding the play of visual appearances to the play of appearances of all the other senses during meditation in this way, gives such a greater sense of all of them being the play of wisdom, all of them are part of the mandala, all of them are inseperable from the deity, and inseperable from the mind of my guru.

Somehow, it's more a whole, more integrated, more natural, and just 'fits'.

..... for now! Who knows how things will change ... things always change ... but it's very 'right' for now .. and such a great blessing :-)

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