open dharma meditation retreats
~ Bless your heart
Dharma talk from Nimbuchaur, Kotdwar, India April 07

The title of the talk this afternoon is bless your heart.

And I'd like for you to be comfortable, but also feel that, especially at certain points we're giving this talk together. I'll be asking you questions and really wanting to hear from you, not just asking them.

So this saying, "bless your heart", in the place where I grew up is pronounced "bless yer heaaart", and is said all the time, my mom still says it all the time. And it's not just for someone who is kind and good that you say, "Oh that man, bless his heart, he's such a sweetheart!" but anyone including George Bush. George Bush, bless his heart, who just made another billion dollars off the Iraq war, bless his heart, he can have even extra ones.

And also someone who is ordinary doesn't have to be like the axis of evil or the fairy godmother of kindness. And I really like the fact that, for some reason I am not sure if anyone knows why, for some reason people just say this, or they used to say this all the time almost any time you mention someone's name. Bless his heart, bless your heart. I don't think that we tend so often to say bless my heart, so much but maybe we can start a new trend.

And I love to feel into the meaning of the word blessing, which can also maybe reveal more about the word heart, what the word heart means. And it's interesting first of all that the word blessing is related to the word wound or wounding. Do you know what wound is everyone? Like to hurt. A wound, if I am wounded then I got maybe a cut in battle or something like that.

One time I was walking in the temple in Bodhgaya, it was my first visit to India, and the first couple of weeks staying in that town. And it was around evening time, the sun had gone down and the light was changing and I had heard people say that at that time of day when that light is changing that way and things are becoming blue grey that we lose depth perception, it's not so easy to tell how far away something is in that light.

And I was just jumping across a kind of, hmm, it's not a ditch but like a place that water can run off if it rained a lot but it was made out of sharp stones, I was jumping across it and I missed and my knee went straight onto the hard edge, from my height which is luckily not very high, straight all my weight onto the knee onto the edge of the rock, and it really hurt. I was wounded.

And strangely, luckily, normally, whatever, some guy came out of nowhere and said "Oh I'm a healer, you just hurt your knee and it was that weird light that might be where it's coming from, and he said, he put his hand on my knee and he said just relax, and I sort of relaxed and he was kind of looking at me like, just relax, and I relaxed a little more and then finally I realized he really meant relax that I can actually relax my knee and it was so painful that there was a lot of tension in my body reacting to the pain, and when I realized he really meant I couldn't relax enough.

Even because of the pain, I couldn't relax enough. The more I could relax the more helpful for that pain, for that wound. And so I was relaxing a lot more and then he could work much better on it. And of course being in India, just as I was relaxing and he was helping a monk came up and was really worried about what was going on here on the ground of the holy temple, with a man touching a woman's knee in the now dark.

So the monk didn't really have much concern for my pain, he just wanted us to stop doing what we were doing as soon as possible. So, still, enough help had happened, the man who came out of nowhere had done enough work on my knee that he kept working a little longer on it, I kept relaxing a little more and then the monk kept standing there and then we stopped.

So just to wonder kind of out loud what a blessing is, what is a blessing, and if some part of what blessing is has to do with being wounded, what could that mean. And one thing that I love that's starting to happen here on this retreat among us, is ideas started to come for this talk and then people started coming and talking about the things that had come to my mind for the talk.

So just yesterday Jess was reading something about the wound of love, how love hurts because it takes us past who we think we are, it makes us feel that we are bigger than what we thought, that we don't fit into our little cages. And feeling about love making us feel how big we are, we get a feeling of like the unlimited pouring through us in the form of love towards something limited and towards the unlimited in that limited, so we love, we feel a response of love seeing the light and the wind in the tree outside moving in just the way it knows how to move and kind of reflecting green in just the way it knows how to reflect green.

And there is love there and I think there's two kinds of wounding that can happen in that loving, in that letting through of that big love. One is to really let there be intimacy with that specific limited experience of wind, sun, tree, that intimacy makes us bigger, makes us realize we don't fit in the small cage that we thought we fit into.

And also what moves us about that, light, wind and tree, something bigger that speaks through the specific also, so it's like double wounding, what a blessing. Not always comfortable. When you think of blessing, "Ah bless you", "Blessings", it sounds happy and light and maybe we need to be more aware of what we are saying. When we wish for blessings, on ourselves or another person. Blessings, woundings, woundings that take us past what we think basically. Wounding that lets us feel our vulnerability to each other and to life itself. So even in being healed just the opportunity to be healed from anything even it's a physical wound or even if it's an emotional difficulty, the opportunity of being healed, even a little bit, is like feeling a bigger energy coming through it makes us realize that we participate in something much bigger.

So just like this man who came out of the dusk and said "just relax, really relax", one thing that we're here together for 35 days to do is to say really you can't relax enough. You can't relax too much, you really, really can keep relaxing even if it is painful. Maybe even especially when it's painful. Noticing that the normal thing is not to relax and it's come to feel so normal, not to relax, that we have to keep realizing we can't relax enough, we could keep relaxing more. We could keep relaxing too much.

It's taking years and years for us to really trust this process that happens by relaxing, and so we thank you for being part of that, learning to trust the process. Of seeing that that really is what needs to happen, it's not that eventually you'll hear the secret instructions that you shouldn't actually sleep, you should somehow stay awake. "Relax but stay awake". "Relax but don't completely relax, somewhere you have got to be tense". It's not what we are going to tell you in a few years. (laughs) Heh, heh. "You were just relaxing? Ha!"

If we start to really feel what we think of as strength, if we really feel when we are using our strength, physically or on any other level, what is happening? I think that what we find happening is tension. And if we can be honest enough to feel that tension that we call strength I think we find that it's also a hollow tension, hollow means it doesn't have anything inside, it doesn't have anything to give. It's not deeply connected to an energy source.

And by really experiencing that, over and over again, that what we think of as strength, is this hollow tension that doesn't give anything, then maybe we can start to get de-addicted, slowly,


I'd love to know what you think or understand about the word merit. This is another word that was coming to mind and then it's been coming up in conversations and even we got a very sweet, very nice note and present from someone, talking about merit and wishing to share that with everyone. So I'm just curious what you either understand or experience, what you have heard, even if it's not your experience, about merit, and also, if you've experienced, what you think merit is.

Does everyone know what this word is, merit? Not really. Okay. So let's hear, anyone, just a basic idea of what merit is, just first to define it for someone who doesn't know English well.

Q. It's connected with reward, but I'm not sure.

Jaya. Okay, so maybe it's, Annette is asking, because she says she doesn't know exactly what merit is, is it connected with reward?

Q. It's like (inaudible)

Jaya. Um hmm. Can you say that a little more loudly?

Q. It's like getting a check for doing something.

Jaya. For doing anything?

Q. Apparently for doing good things.

Jaya. Okay, so one definition of merit is, that we get a kind of a "good boy" "good girl" on our chart somewhere for doing something and usually it would be doing something considered to be good. So in that definition it is somehow related to reward. Anyone else, yes.

Q. For me it's like I do something out of intention or just because I like it and out of that comes a natural chain of nice, beautiful things, which are like, flowering out of that.

Jaya. Okay. So you said you do something out of intention?

Q. From the heart or because I want something.

Jaya. So what's the intention? How would you describe that "from the heart" intention?

Q. Out of love. (inaudible)

Jaya. So the intention is to express love or to stay connected with love, or, or?

Q. It's hard to say. It's more something that just happens and then I think "Oh wow!" and then the intention was not to do something good, umm, but I feel that yeah, something good is flowing out of it and it makes me happy!

Jaya. Yeah, good. Can you give an example? Oh, yes!

Q. Maybe doing the talk, I remember something, but not now.

Jaya. Okay. Could everyone hear what Nicoleji was saying? Not so much? That for her it's not so much an intention to do good, but she out of love feels like doing something not looking for a result and later on she sees that many different benefits flowered out of that. And for her that's umm... So is the merit, what's the merit? The flowering?

Q. Good question. It's actually difficult to say, like, for me the merit actually really comes when I can be happy about what's come out of it. (inaudible)

Jaya. Okay. Could you hear? Okay. Anyone else?

Q. Good point on the heavenly account. You also get bad point, it is two directions.

Jaya. I think merit limits to the good part. But saying that there is a good effect means there could be a .... Hem... So could everyone hear what Petraji said? Do you wanna say it again.

Petra: Like some good points in the heavenly account.

Jaya. And then Anandaji was saying that, in French the word that they use for merit is not only about good points but it could be good points and also bad points and as soon as we anyway talk about the possibility of getting good points on the heavenly chart/account, then there's implied the possibility of losing, at least losing the good points if not getting bad points. So what happens if I have good points in my account in heaven? What does that give me? What can I, how can I spend that? Anyone?

Q. A good next life.

Jaya. A good next life. How do we know?

Q. (?)

Jaya. Okay. So part of that idea is later, in the next life, good life.

Q. Maybe not adding the idea of good and bad, like, just acting how we feel.

Jaya. Acting how we feel and then?

Q. Yeah, like, umm, accepting what we are naturally, what we are doing, what we are thinking what comes. What comes from really outside and inside, just flowing with it.

Jaya. Yeah. For you this feels like merit?

Q. More or less.

Jaya. Yeah. Okay. Anyone else?

Q. Yeah. In the Tibetan tradition there is a lot of emphasis on gaining merit and all things that have to do with doing something. So, you see all these older people who are (?) walking around gaining their merit (?) it seems to always be coordinated with this doing.

Jaya. Okay. Can everyone hear? Um, in the Tibetan tradition, there is a lot of emphasis on the importance of gathering merit, gaining merit, and that it's usually coordinated with doing. So especially the older generations are involved in actions that will, they understand, will give them more merits. So doing pilgrimage or mantra.

Q. Sometimes (?)

Jaya. Okay. So it doesn't it mean that just the merit is good enough?

Q. Well it's supposed to.

Jaya. So, okay, that's what it means.

Q. Just merit is its own reward.

Jaya. Okay. Can you hear? Just merit is its own reward. That can be related to like, giving is receiving, this kind of idea.

Q. (?).... It means that you have to remember that it's not your action. Whatever you do ....will

have it's effects. So it's just to remember whatever you do, there is no "I". (?)

Jaya. Yeah, beautiful. Could everyone hear? Yeah? Okay. So, that's related to what I was talking about the wound, the blessing. Blessing our heart. That it's somehow not just me loving something limited but something much bigger. Moving through towards something much bigger. Universe. Doing good for the universe. Sometimes the idea of sharing the merit gets distorted into the idea that if I share the merit I will get even more merit. So it's really beautiful the way Sybilleji described. I like it.

Q. Can you say again how the Tibetans, how they see merit or describe merit?

Jaya. What, what Kellieji said? She is saying that there's an emphasis first of all that we need to gain merit, we need to build a pile of merit, kind of, and that that usually in practice happens by doing something, by doing a pilgrimage, by doing a thousand or a hundred thousand, or what ten millions mantras of whatever. That it's usually understood as we have to do something to gain the merit. So it's also interesting. I wouldn't say that's what the Tibetan tradition says about merit. But it does seem to be the general overall understanding and movement. I guess within the Tibetan tradition there must be hundreds of very subtle understandings about it but generally we do see a lot of.

And there is one really great story where the Dalai Lama is looking at slides of these beautiful photographs taken by a famous American photographer that were going to be made into a beautiful sort of big, expensive color photo book about the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, and towards the end there is one photo of this very picturesque, older Tibetan woman looking very devoted, praying maybe doing her mantra or something and maybe in the background there is the Potala palace, the Dalai Lama's palace, standing beautiful and the Dalai Lama is commenting as they look at each photo, and when he sees this photo he says "She is probably asking for a bicycle".

Q. I am just reading something the other day by Trungpa Rimpoche and he is talking about an open wound, and a sensitivity, you know, that like the air touching and just such extreme sensitivity to heat and cold and he is talking about from that place of extreme sensitivity, that can bring a place where compassion can arise from and then he is talking about something called alaya consciousness which is a place of non-differentiation between self and others and coming through the wound from that place so, without separating self and others as different parts.

Jaya. Hmm. Nice. Could everyone hear? Not so much? You want to try again.

Q. I am reading Trungpa Rinpoche and he is talking very much about this open wound place and saying that the sensitivity that can come from there can come from a place of non- differentiation between self and others and using one's territory, he is talking about that as well, not maintaining that sense of I and others.

Jaya. Okay. Did you hear? Okay. So I am glad that Augustaji brought the idea of compassion because it's another thing I wanted to ask about and it's also lovely how what Augustaji is saying is tied into what we are doing here with resting. And this relaxing and resting and even losing the sense of "Here I am meditating or applying attention to my breath", we even lose the me meditating, we loose me putting attention on that object. And then we fall asleep or we don't know what happens, we go somewhere, which usually often would be this alaya place, where there is not this differentiation of self and others dissolved.

And it's not that still, that's still not quite deep meditation but it's where we can hang out to, Ajay would say sprout, towards deep meditation. It's the little that we can do, which is nothing just relaxing. But it does emphasize again this space of something bigger happening in or through, me. And the need to spend time in that dissolved place. Even though it's not the end

of the story, even though it's not like the kind of good points in the heavenly account. It's not doing anything special. It's not even meditation. It's much deeper than what we have called meditation in the past. But it's not even that much of a little tick or reward on our heavenly account as meditation.

Jaya. So what is compassion?

Q. Jayaji, my teacher in San Francisco defines compassion as a quivering of the heart, and that was something I really could feel when you speak (?), in my words it would be a deep caring about the experience of life and of all beings so if I am witness to, it's usually outside of myself, like it's um, you know, (?) that I think is outside of myself, more so than this quivering coming as response to something I am expecting, this deep wish that if it wasn't like that in that moment, that my perception of the suffering, the wish for it to be better than that, for it to be better.

Jaya. Mm, mm, ok.

Q. What is quivering?

Jaya. Did everyone hear Bodhiji? Quivering? Okay. Anything else that could be called compassion?

Q. Compassion is that the idea that people (?)

Jaya. Nice, okay. Anything else that could be called compassion?

Q. For me it's, um, something about being (?) or not, or (?) to be touched by life, and for me it doesn't even have opinion, it doesn't think something should be anything other than it is, but it's sitting (?) enough to feel (?) very present to healing (?).

Jaya. So, I think that, because it's hard to talk about, I think that's really what Bodhiji meant when she was saying we wish it could be somehow different or better, it's more that we feel that, that hurts, for example, or we feel and it's this vulnerability, sensitivity that Augustaji was talking about as well. And I think it's quite interesting to have the possibility of just the feeling, and as Elizaji is saying, open to the humanness, and open also to the not me not you ness of just feeling.

Q. There's something else actually, (?) maybe actually it's having at some point having the honesty of, (?) tension or that impulse (?) so holding the known that what is is best (?)

Jaya. I would even strip it more bare and say it doesn't even have to be just right, but it is, so there might be the tension of wanting to fix or change something and feeling the pain of that as well, and just feeling what is, and letting that just feeling be so bare, so sensitive that we don't know who's pain, whom it belongs to. But there is feeling of it and there is a kind of magic point of intimacy that can happen.

So I am curious about accumulating merit. So when people talk about merit and there is usually the need to accumulate it, have a lot of it, and also to share it. And usually it's understood that by being compassionate we are getting more merit. But we can also really play with this in our experience if what we are talking about, as deep, this deep compassion, where it's not me doing something for you, which would tend to be me looking down on you, poor thing, suffering, bless your heart. But just feeling. Whether there is a difference between accumulating and sharing.

And also to play with, um, when we talk about accumulating and sharing, but especially accumulating, does everyone know this word, accumulating? Like making a pile. One of my teachers Papaji, used to say when, especially if I happen to follow my intuition and do something kind of courageous, then he would say "Ah, mountain of merit at your back". Meaning like having a mountain of merit behind you allows your flow to lead this way, allows you to do that courageous thing, but he would always say, "Mountain of merit at your back".

So if we have to accumulate a certain size of a mountain of merit, before we can really flow, really be involved in our process, to what extent is there some kind of quantity needed ? How much is it that we need a quantity of, merit? A quantity of doing something. Do I need to um, how many meditation retreats do I need to do? How many meditation hours do I need to do? This kind of question, but I want to apply it specifically to what we are doing here, not just sort of, "Ah, those people who think they have to meditate hard for 20 hours a day" or whatever.

We are really encouraging resting and in a way I am saying like we actually do have to rest enough, we have to rest, arrest, rest a certain amount before we can know why we were resting, before we can really experience why we are resting. So I am just, I am not saying like I know what merit is, and this is merit and you have to do like this. But I find it interesting that in a way we are making an experiment without knowing the result. And sometimes we pretend that's not the case, as if yeah, we all know resting is good and... But actually only by resting enough can we really feel what happens next. And so maybe, one kind of mountain of merit that's worth having at your back is a mountain of resting, maybe. A mountain of not doing.

Jaya. Yes?

Q. Um, I struggled with this Tibetan idea of merit, to me it sounded like what we used to have collecting trading stamps, green stamps to get enough green stamps that you can get a toaster, so I sat with this idea, this question "What is merit?" for a long time and to me what you just said, what Papaji said, when you just stepped out of your normal mode of doing things and did something completely different, it's something which changed you, which changed your model and so for me this merit is something which really changes me on a deep level.

Jaya. Yeah. Can you give an example?

Q. Well the example that you mentioned is a very good one, when you do something that takes courage, when you do something with an open heart, when you do something to step out into the unknown.

Jaya. Yeah. And what is it that we can do that gives us that? And what is that giving us? To step out into the unknown, what is needed from us to step out into the unknown?

Q. An open heartedness, sometimes it takes courage.

Jaya. Yeah. And so what gives us courage and open heart? What really makes that change possible? Even if that change is not like a permanent change but sometimes accessible that we have open heart courage?

Q. Sometimes it's just seeing things in a new way. (?) Just seeing things in a fresh and completely different way of seeing, understanding.

Jaya. Yeah. Good. And what allows us to see in a different way? You can tell me to shut up anytime you want. (laughs)

Q. This opening, I guess, just this opening.

Jaya. Yeah. So it's kind of, almost like a kind of a self nourishing circle or cycle, opening helps seeing in a different, helps opening, helps seeing in a different way and somehow, we're all curious how the courage fits in. Courage to open, courage to see in a different way.

Q. Courage to let go. Of all that you hold dear.

Jaya. Yeah. So what gives the courage to let go of everything that we hold dear? Exactly what gives that courage? Desperation can, desperation is what I heard.

Q. The image that comes to mind is like somebody falling, but there's some trust in that. It has to be like you have to allow, one has to allow oneself to fall but at the same time there has to be trust, does it make sense?

Jaya. Yeah.

Q. Because without that trust then there is doubt.

Jaya. Okay. So sometimes out of desperation we fall and either we are so desperate that we just fall, so tired that we just fall, or tired desperate and also trusting a little bit so we just fall.

Q. Is there a German word for desperation?

Jaya. I don't know. For desperation?

Q. (?)

Jaya. Some people have found that to be the case, yes. When we realize we have no other options, that helps a lot. So what gives courage, or what's another word for courage, Claudiaji? What has given you courage to let go of everything that you hold dear and to see things in a different way.

Claudia. Yeah, what comes to mind is joy but I think that comes after, yeah.

Jaya. So what comes before the joy and ends up being joy? Please.

Claudia. I don't know it's a click that Gemma talked about, I don't know.

Jaya. Ok. I think it would be useful to feel what could be other words for courage also.

Claudia. Like a shift in something, something moves.

Jaya. Yeah. Good, good.

Q. (?) courage (?)

Jaya. Yeah, yeah. I agree. Could everyone hear? That maybe this click happens because of the merit, so maybe there is not a direct cause making the shift happen. And so maybe it's not just linear. But I still would love to know from Claudiaji eventually, maybe not today, maybe today, what else is involved? We've got a lot of the pieces but I think there is one missing piece in our description.

So there is some kind of factor of quantity, like doing enough of something, that we could call meritorious, something that brings good effects or like Nicoleji was saying, by doing that out of love that we are surprised by how much flowers from there. Not only towards myself but in many directions. And also what happens to kind of move us beyond our usual way, so that's called courage, or seeing in a different way? What is it that takes us off of our railway tracks and helps us find a different way of moving suddenly? Even if one minute later we are back on the tracks again? (laughs)

So in this, what we can call process, of giving ourselves enough of what's needed so that these clicks can happen, we click off of the track into another way of living. There is a couple of ways that we tend to stop ourselves, we put the brakes on, and one way especially with this resting and resting enough, and this possibility that we can't rest too much or relax too much, we can't have a too big of a mountain at our back. Many times we will keep track of how much we are resting and we will feel I am resting so much, I have never rested so much in my life,

how can I rest so much. I'm getting more tired by resting more, maybe there is something wrong with me, etc. Which is all part of the normal process and really scary sometimes. It's also funny and it's also terrifying sometimes.

What if I really am just wasting my life and in three years Jaya is going to tell me like, "Ah, you were only resting, you didn't just do that little bit of effort you could have done three years ago?" So we really notice, wow, how much we are resting because it's different from what we are usually doing but sometimes we don't notice how much we are not resting. So we count how much we are resting but we don't notice that all the not resting that we are doing is counteracting the resting.

And that can be in big ways, that maybe we have come to this retreat with a list of things that we are going to do on the 35 day retreat, it sounded so long before we got here that we knew we could take care of all these little problems in our life and get in shape and, you know, paint our masterpiece and catch up on our diary, and whatever, do three hours of yoga everyday. And maybe there is not room for everything and maybe what there is room for is resting enough.

So there's also the little ways that we don't rest that we don't count, that we don't see how this subtle not resting is taking away from our mountain of merit. Did you want to say something?

Q. No, I am just thinking about the link which you think is missing, (?)I don't know, (?) one is wanting to make a change out of how we usually do, and out of that knowing inside that there is another way possible and then seeing in this situation what is needed to make this change so the recognizing of the (?) and then to do.

Jaya. Okay. I think, in my experience, that's part of the click and so I am curious of a few things but one is more, a little more about what allows the click, so part of the click is recognizing that, I could do this differently, and this is how which is um, magnificent when that happens. In other times we try to convince ourselves that we could do it differently but we're, it's not happening, we are not really seeing.

So the question, just to review again, that I am still interested in is what is it that gives us the courage, the possibility of seeing things in a different way? So including seeing that I could do a different thing here that the way I have usually done this has always led to suffering and it could be different, I could actually not say that thing or I could actually not beat up on myself or whatever.

And a second half of the question is, what allows us to let go of everything we hold dear?

Jesse. (?) why not? And like, I have the example of when I was living in the shack, and sometimes like I was scared at night a man would come and harass me or something like that and I could feel myself like really kind of tensing up, and then I would just go, no listen, I kept just training myself to really relax, and I ended up having good night sleeps and no one came and it was ok, you just have to feel why not?, that statement, even if you gonna die you need to be relaxed, that kind of thing.

Jaya. Can everyone hear that? Yeah? No? A little. Can you repeat a little? Louder over there?

Jesse. The feeling just like why not? like and I use the example of, like being somewhere and being isolated and being scared that someone might come and kill me or rape me or something like this and feeling myself tense up and then kind of going why not just relax, and then relaxing and the thing not happening, and...

Jaya. Okay? Yes.

Q. For me it's a love of life, while I have this thing, that I think of as my life, being alive, not

wanting it to be kind of, um, wasted in misery, and so the willingness to try something new, even if that new thing is not formed yet, but just to, you were talking about the railroad tracks, like putting at least one foot out into, yeah, something other than that habitual way. Because the admitting, the admission of how miserable that habit is.

Jaya. So this part of also what Nicoleji was saying that something that can happen that might be part of merit or because of merit, is that we can really feel what hurts. We can feel that the limiting of ourselves is miserable and that allows healing to come. That's this blessing.

Jaya. Yes?

Nicole. (?) so it's trust, what you are looking for?

Jaya. It seems to me that trust is pretty hard to come by, and so I guess a lot of what I would look for is what allows trust, what makes trust possible?

Q. (?) never, one has to take a leap of faith, kind of, and then hope at the other end there's somebody to catch them or that it's going to work.

Jaya. Yeah. Or the why not, like so both, and um, both together are good, why not even if I am gonna die it's better than being miserable when I could die anyway, like by tensing up in my little shack I am not protecting myself from being raped, so what if I relax anyway? And maybe from there I can have a sense of, tonight I need to go somewhere else, for example. That's just... (everyone laughs) So there is why not and there is trust. And both of those don't mean that we are just like throwing ourselves away.

Q. To me there is also like curiosity, kind of like Bodhi was saying, like even if it's a disaster, we make it another move because a disaster could be really interesting.

Jaya. (laughs) Good.

Jesse. It sounds like you are saying (?) a point of being relaxed then I could actually get up and fight (?) common sense it's better to be relaxed and then (?)

Q. Is there something ? is something ?

Jaya. Sorry. Annetteji.

Annette. No. I just felt like it comes from a really deep sense of saying yes.

Jaya. Yeah. Okay. And I think the curiosity and the saying yes and the trust are one thing. Maybe different levels of one thing. Yes?

Q. For me there is something about space, that the things that have been described and are ideas or impulses, that are perhaps new in our spectrum of responses, possible responses to any situation, and that if I am to move out of a place that of being in reaction, in a kind of survival reaction, I need enough internal space for that seeing described that comes from somewhere quite other than my habitual limited patterning and that because I was just sort of reflecting on what you said about the mountain of rest and I think the big thing in life that I cry for again and again inside is this enough space for that kind of, bunson burner of urgency just to be turned off. Turn it off. Yeah, some space.

Jaya. Good. So one kind of way that we stop ourselves, even while we feel that we are really going into our process, wholeheartedly, one way is that we are resting but we are also not resting. And we count how many hours of resting and how that seems impossible to rest so much but we don't notice how impossible it is to live without rest. There is this line from a Hafiz poem that says something like: Please rest because this separation from God, or from seeing what is, is the hardest work that you could do.

So another way that I see us putting the brakes on, keeping us in our tracks, can be related to the conversation about compassion and sharing merit. The impulse to share merit, whether that's coming from a real, honest place or coming from a habit, it's important to feel the difference. To feel how sometimes we might give up everything that's dear to us as Claudiaji was saying or we might just give up a little bit, but really feel the cost, really keeping track of that, and somewhere demanding some kind of result.

Alright I've have been resting for five days now, where is my experience? And. Yes? No? No. One particular way that we demand, that especially tends to stop us I find, is that we demand to understand what's happening. So I am giving myself as fully as I can, even if it's not 100% fully I am doing my best, giving myself to this meditation or this process or this resting, or whatever. But, I need to understand what's happening. And if we could kind of back up and see like where did we make that deal, who did we sign a paper with like God or something? You give yourself wholeheartedly as best as you can and I will give you understanding whenever you ask for it. And so it's really hard, really, really hard, but if we can see that we never, no one, we never manage to get someone to sign that paper.

So we have no rights, we are refugees kind of, we are in-between, so it's, as Augustaji was saying, Trungpa Rinpoche often talks about giving up our territory, so even if we had a passport we gave up the territory so it's not a valid passport anymore and no one, sort of, is going to listen to us, and our demands. And the important thing to try to notice and feel in ourselves that sometimes it is helpful to hear something that makes sense about what's happening to us, but mostly that helps us because it allows us to give ourselves more fully.

Only because we think we understand what's happening even if someone tells us a wrong idea, and we say "Ah, okay.", and then, we "Okay, now I understand so I can give myself fully". We are still in that kind of mode of going with our invalid passport. And that's not giving ourselves fully, unfortunately. For most of us, it seems to be the case that we are going to understand much later, much after we experience.

And so it can happen that we are experiencing really deep things and we have no idea that that's happening. And in a way for most of us this is a really good thing because if we had the idea of what was going on, we would get so involved in how wonderful that was or if someone else is getting better than me, how much longer do I have to go, how far have I come, and it's just stealing energy from our life.

So a third way that we put the brakes on, is sometimes we have a kind of, breath, glimpse of how good it is, just how good it is, and this has been coming up I think, maybe it's just been privately so I just say now, it's seems to be coming up in the group, the sense that, that's too good to be me, to be in my experience. To be what life is about, if I am living the life, and so we, click, close it down. This is again this blessing of the heart, where something bigger is flowing through us, and we can't take it. And truly we can't take it, we can't take it, we can't do anything with it.

But we can let it come in and through. This is probably merit and sharing merit. It's probably what that means. I was even starting to feel that maybe what merit is, is when we can really feel or experience even for half a second, just the goodness of walking, or the sound of the bell, or the taste of the rice, these small things that we consider unimportant. So the things that we consider unimportant, that we put in the category of unimportant, really hold a key for each one of us. Each one of us considers different things to be unimportant.

And whatever those things are, are really important to us, it tells a lot about us, it tells a lot to us, in many ways. So one small example is, just to notice now we can look back at the first few days here and see how did we react to the first few days here? What was our overall reaction? And not to put ourselves into boxes, but just to get a sense of whether it was mostly aversion, mostly, one person was saying today, in the first few days she was in her room, the room was

so hot, it was going to be impossible. The whole retreat impossible.

But already now she has found another way that the heat is not only tied to the sensation of unbearable but brings her into real intimacy with the coolness of the air in the morning. So, or if the reaction of the first few days was, "This is great I am going to get so much out of this, I want to stay here forever! Why didn't we come here before? I want to invite my whole family!" or for other people maybe the overall reaction was more like, "What? Where is the dining room? What's happening now? There is a meditation? Ah, we have roommates, roommate right, roommate, okay."

Okay. Or as one of our good friends is famous for saying, "Couldn't be bothered, can't be bothered. I don't have any reaction." So in that case nothing is important, which means really everything is important. Really everything is communicating something. So within those reactions, let's say I hated here when I first came, I hated the teachers, I hated the building, I hated the weather, I hated the food, I hated myself, I hated my bed, I hated the western toilet in the bathroom, there are so many ways that that connection of hatred to those different objects can help us learn a lot.

So there is the simple way of just reversing, like I hate that person because they eat too fast or too slow or whatever and so really turning this around and bringing this home, if I think the person eats too fast and this is wrong then probably there is some way, at some point, it might take us a few years to realize, that we eat too fast, literally, literally and also less literally, symbolically.

There is also just the ways that whatever I focus on in that manner, can allow me to come, not only to come back to my own business, which is my reaction to the object, but also to feel what was getting touched. So where is that compassion, that wound place. Not like, "Oh I should be compassionate to that person they are eating too fast.", then you wish them "May you eat slowly, you poor unenlightened person." Not this so called compassion, which is just hatred playing tricks. (laughs)

But that like Augustaji was saying, where it's just so sensitive and I realize oh my god I am that sensitive, that even the way someone else is eating is completely getting inside my skin and driving me crazy, that's how sensitive I am. That's how much sensitivity is possible let's not even make it a problem. How do I live with that much sensitivity? And what can happen by getting behind my sensitivity. And not letting that reach out and take things out of context? And make kind of a big deal out of those things, those things that we think are important that aren't.

And let that sensitivity come towards and be with, the things that we think are unimportant, with that much intensity if possible, as what we allow to happen regularly in the hatred department. That much intensity of sensitivity of meeting, of rawness of feeling with what we consider unimportant.

So I just like to end with one story. One time I was watering the plants on my, outside of my house, a long time ago, and I was hurrying cause I wanted to finish and get back inside and just maybe a few months before an old friend had died suddenly in Burma, actually in Nepal. And some of you know him or heard of Thomas Jost who was managing the Bodhgaya retreats for many years. So he got really sick and misdiagnosed and then died.

And I was watering the plants and hurrying and I just felt Thomas, there, even though he had died, maybe because he had died, and it was something as if he had said to me, "This is life." And I really stopped and felt, you know, I actually love plants which is why I have too many of them, just why I am out here in the heat in the night watering them. And I am trying to hurry and finish watering the plants to get to my life. So it's like just this really simple story and how we could be wounded by the plants. Wounded by the necessity to give water to the plants, wounded by my love for the plants.

As a blessing. Not like me being compassionate to the poor plants who will die, they will die if I don't water them. And not only because something in me will die if I let the plants die. But that's kind of a clue, about how deeply blessed we are, in the ordinary. So there is this Rumi poem and he talks about this, and this is it, just watering the plants or walking up the stairs. And he said, even the stars that are running across the sky at night are jealous of this, the richness of this.

Are there any questions or anything someone wants to say?

Q. (?) three great points?

Jaya. There is probably more. One was especially with resting but with anything that's nourishing us, that we really keep track of the mountain of resting that we are doing but at the same time we are exhausting ourselves and not noticing that that has an effect on the resting that takes away the benefit of the resting directly. And then the demand, like I gave up everything, or I am giving up one extra hour for resting therefore, give me something. Especially understanding. And the third was the too good, what I glimpse of experience when I let it be and let it be in context as it is, is too good. There is too much merit in just being and then we turn away from that immeasurable merit and go to the counting kind.

Q. By resting you mean physically?

Jaya. Physically is a good start. And then that starts to show what else is tense and how, it even also starts to show how what is tense could sometimes relax and then more often relax and then something more subtle is tense that we become aware of, let that also be seen felt, slowly relaxed, continually more and more subtle. So yes physical, not only physical.

Q. (?) physical (?) energy (?)

Jaya. So sometimes it's coming on the way towards going deeper, and we need to find either a way of like going under the radar, kind of, going under the commotion, let it happen but staying underneath until it passes. Or sometimes let the restlessness, what does it really want, what movement is needed and experiment with letting it happen and see if that allows the deepening to happen. Other times just it's because we have gotten, given too much energy to non-resting, it's a momentum that needs to die down, and I find Jin Shin really helps for that for me. Other times it might be that it feels restless and it might be that new openings are happening, more energy is coming through, and we need to really soften into that, to let it be contained and absorbed.

Our usual way is when there is more energy we want to get rid of it and sometimes it does, something needs to be just catharted, like released. And other times it's letting it really in. So sometimes the restlessness is showing that there is a face that got hard, and is not absorbing and we can feel what will help that absorb in myself.

Q. (?)

Jaya. Ok. So...

Q. Jaya. Can you say the different ways of being wounded?

Jaya. The different ways of being wounded? I don't remember what I said about that.

Q. Basically, just say something more about being wounded by (?)

Jaya. Hmm, I am not sure it would be good to talk about that right now, maybe we can continue that next time. Try to feel what that could mean. Knowing that I talked about blessing as woundedness, sensitivity in no self and other space. And see what you come up with.

So may we really feel what real strength is and let go of hollow strength, feel what really strengthens us, feel how what strengthens us is not only for us and feel how strength can come through weakness. How real strength can come through real, deep relaxation and real, deep sense of helplessness. May our gathering be a momentum of awakening in all directions.

Jaya Ashmore (2007)


open dharma meditation flower
open dharma retreats
open dharma retreats
open dharma retreats