More on knowledge. I’m going to continue with excerpts from an old meditation diary. Again, lots of this was done on the subway in New York. It’s a good place to meditate. I’ve tried this in Thailand, and it’s not as easy, and not just because traffic and vehicles here tend to be noisier (even than the subway, which can actually be very quiet).
By way of backtracking, I’m writing about my old writing, which includes commentary, notes, diary entries. I’m also continuing to write about Buddhist teacher Tarthang Tulku’s Time/Space/Knowledge body of teachings.
Right now, I’m focusing, or trying to with varying success, on the “knowledge” angle. This will be familiar to many who’ve studied Buddhism- it’s a lot about interconnection, intuition, directness.
From an old journal of meditation notes:
“How does [decision making] exist free of content? Seems like pattern is basically an insistent, subtle yet high energy imperative- do this, or else…”
Knowing Through Space
“Not wanting to get rid of tension or negative emotions because they’re comforting and give a sense of direction, or structure…”
Concepts of Knowledge
“thoughts in conflict tend to create tension”
“as you doing this, you’re acting, and you never have total control over your actions…”
movement of thoughts, spaces between thoughts:
“the interval- a feeling of energy, indecisiveness,slight anxiety as a thought forms…”
“also, lots of repeating, echoes of thoughts, words that I read, talking to myself…”
What should I make of these old notes? They’re generally pretty basic. Looking back on them, I feel good thinking that my meditation practice has improved somewhat since that time. I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned has probably been that the content of the thoughts in meditation is not extremely important. I’m not going to “figure myself out” or reach some kind of enlightenment by mulling over these things on the cushion. It’s not a self-therapy session kind of thing. I just try to sit down and do it a few times a day, for not too short a session if I can manage it.
This suggests, of course, that the project was a failure, these TSK meditations. I don’t know if I gained a lot over the six months or so when I did these on a regular basis. I wouldn’t call it an entire failure in that something about the movement of thoughts in practice became a little clearer. If the content of thoughts during practice is not spectacularly important, the dance of thoughts is, the energy, movement, and patterns (somehow beyond the level of “content” or ideas). Getting past the level of fascination with words and ideas and concepts in meditation seems to be useful. They’re fertilizer, and for me at least, I had to go through a stage of digging through said fertilizer and examining it obsessively for some time.
The interesting thing is, I would say, that working with thoughts and emotions on and off the cushion are different matters. If my face is contorted with rage at some point in a meditation session, as thoughts of some petty conflict I had recently surface, that’s no problem. Any thought or feeling is fine. If my face is contorted with rage at my job, that’s potentially a big problem. It seems too obvious to even mention- off the cushion, in postmeditation, there’s stuff like etiquette and social norms and others to think of, but how to manage thoughts or to work with your mind off the cushion is not exactly easy.
That’s one reason it’s good to meditate. It makes postmeditation a little easier, or at least more productive.