Just as I’d gotten into the flow of writing the “impermanence” series, some things came up. Basically, I got offered some (wonderful) new work, and got involved in that. I’ve been planing for some new classes, and doing a lot of writing for that.
I’ve wanted to come back to posting here, but have had a little less time for “recreational” writing, and coming back to it, whatever interested me about the previous series has disappeared (for now). I don’t like to leave projects unfinished, but I also know that once the spark of a project is gone, it’s easy to do a lot of bad writing.
Who knows how far the new one will go? However, here it is, in outline form. I’ll try to fill this in as time passes.
108 Arguments for Contemplative Practice
The idea is a short book giving reasons for starting and maintaining a contemplative practice of some sort (meditation, prayer, and so on). The book will be divided into four parts, and each part into chapters.
Intro- the mind, cultural options, culture “contemplates” the mind, this is not an argument for censorship (although it might be one for more civility), investigating the results of cultural forms, the animal and the human, reactivity, are we just animals? how animal are people? how animal are animals?
1. Loss and gain
2. Goals for living
3. Kinds of trust
4. Trust in a groundless world
5. Trust and going beyond
6. What deception is
7. Convincing yourself and others
8. The confidence to practice
9. Fearlessness and meditation, what it takes to start practicing, the fruits of practice, peeling the cocoon
10. Slowing down- good or bad? Synchronization, and the place of slowness
11. In a fast world, is slowness the cure?
12. What slowing down reveals
13. Slowing down, and mindfulness
14. Mindfulness- body, speech, and mind
15. Hard work- meditation is hard work, sometimes, but so are some other things (and hard work is a good thing often)
16. Accomplishing goals, hard work, and doing nothing
17. The sky- glimpses at the beginning
18. The bodhisattva, helping others, and the discipline of meditation- helping “outside” and “inside”
19. Meditation is a way to be friendly to yourself, and others
20. The big challenge of not being afraid of yourself, and “befriending yourself”
21. Gentleness, friendliness, mercy
22. Ordinary living- ordinary magic, not getting caught up in “having too many activities,” what is the measure of this? your mind is a valuable thing
24. Not expecting too much, not exaggerating results of practice
25. Arrogance and meditation
26. Postmeditation- it’s a rich world
27. Postmeditation- richness in details, hard work and richness
1. Virtue- cultivated and not, basic goodness
2. Virtue and discipline, “training”, in light of the value of life– you could cultivate almost any discipline, but frivolousness and wasting your life are possiblities as well
3. The lower realms- there are hellish states of mind, whether you believe in a hell/afterlife or not, and practice helps with those
4. Working with mental hell is a valuable investment of time and energy, helps oneself and others, and in traditional practices can happen very subtly
5. Seeing cause and effect, in practice, and off the cushion
6. Confusion and clarity- seeing these, how much do you expect? how much is possible?
7. Knowing what to accept and what to reject, living your life as an experiment, trying something new
8. Definitions of health, if you spend time exercising, why not spend some practicing?
9. Health of body, and health of mind- you are not your body, or are you? Practice is not the same as study, or is it? Practice is not about becoming a “superscholar” or intellectual
10. The senses open up
11. Freshness and practice- practice becoming dull, ebbs and flows
12. Exuberance, youthfulness, liberating energy
13. Discipline and the tradition of burning incense
14. Motivations for discipline, the wrong kind of discipline, the magic of discipline, schedules
15. Being uplifted, setting sun and the other option
16. Joy, and definitions of happiness- Buddhist, American, psychological, other, is happiness what you’re after? how will you know when you’ve gotten there?
17. Meditation and its influence on action, the reason ethical rules link up with contemplative practice
18. Gracefulness- synchronization and practice, martial arts and physical practices, expecting perfection, self-hatred, one body
19. Doubt- positive and negative
20. Looking at your thoughts and doubt
21. Doubt hinders synchronization
22. Doubt and fear in meditation
24. Resistance and pushing too much- you don’t have to meditate for hours a day
25. Creating healthy habits
26. There are a lot of problems out there, and a lot of good stuff as well (practice- preparation to help, and to see goodness)
27. Lha, nyen, lu- the order of things, order and hierarchy in practice, in other areas, there is a progression, in some ways, everyone is equal in meditation, order and efficiency
1. There’s no need for practice, but do it anyway
2. This and that, opposites, relative and ultimate, labels and concepts, directness
3. What you expect from your mind
4.Training is a good motivation, but it only goes so far
5. Joy about having a good mind
6. Doubt and joy, expansiveness
7. How big is your mind?
8. Stop caring, “couldn’t care less”
9. Flying across the universe, strange creatures, the experience of sacred world, sacred possibilities in a seemingly degraded time, dangers and warnings
10. Why a king?
11. Wrath and anger, negative emotions
12. Desire, energy, vision
13. Seeing negative emotions doesn’t mean getting uptight, basic goodness
14. The space of mind, wanting more space, getting space
15. It’s a spacious world, creating time for meditation, to shrine or not to shrine?
16. Humor, lightness, frivolity- heavy gold of wisdom, don’t waste a precious life
17. Limits, boundaries, pushing oneself and others, considering retreat practice, the benefits of “a little, often”
18. Space and form
19. Meditation as being impartial, and what this attracts
20. Bias off the cushion, equanimity
21. Hope and fear as chatter
22. Being hopeless doesn’t mean laziness, or lack of heart
23. Outrageous possibilities- seeing hopelessness, relaxing
24. It’s really hard to measure progress in practice
25. Practice is always there, as your life goes by
26. Provocations to practice, you are afraid, failure and what you can do with it
27. So many chances to practice, ordinary mind
1. It’s a simple practice, and a dance
2. The dance of form and space
3. Inside and outside
5. Presence and being “on the spot”
6. Manifesting, magic doesn’t mean wishing, practice is sophisticated, and getting New Agey is dangerous, a waste, or both
7. Eyes closed or open? So many options for practice
8. Is it fun? Is it drudgery? Does it matter? postmeditation- does life become more enjoyable?
9. Enjoyment and discipline
10. Meditation and the surrounding environment
11. Practicing in different venues
12. When to practice
13. “It can’t be explained.”
14. Organizing the environment
15. The natural world and meditation, do we have to fall in love with nature?
16. Practice and becoming a warrior
17. Power over the phenomenal world- doing and not doing, how private is practice? how personal? hiding your practice
18. Practice and more sophisticated action off the cushion
19. Becoming steady
20. The arrows of mara
21. You become like space, solidity, the ideal of space, what is it? odd experiences and possibilities we overlook
22. Getting settled, and being okay with being unsettled
23. What is mind?
24. What can practice get you?
25. Becoming a warrior through contemplation: synchronized, humorous, elegant
26. Organizing your life around contemplation- you needn’t become a monk, but it may be helpful to anchor yourself
27. Presence, friendliness, richness- practice opens you to a new existence, deity principle and practice, dieties and a desacralized world, is it just your mind? will I go crazy if I practice? will I go crazy if I don’t? what are our definitions of sanity, and how do fear and habitual pattern fit in?