by Greg Goode in

(The Direct Path Group is for discussions related to Greg Goode and Sri Atmananda's teachings related to Advaita Vedanta)

= How silent meditation helped me with nondual inquiry =
This is about how silent meditation helped me with nondual inquiry. Silent meditation is different from inquiry, and helps prepare one for doing inquiry. It helps in several ways, which I’ll say more about below.
There are various forms of silent meditation and various paths of inquiry. For example, Shamatha is recommended if one wants to realize emptiness via analytic meditation.
Personally, I found Zazen helpful for nondual inquiry. How can it help? It stabilizes the mind so that the mind doesn’t get off track or fall asleep during the inquiry.
Here is a very rough and schematic quasi-Vedantic account of how this works. It’s not a DP account, but something that we were taught in the Chinmaya Mission. Vedanta looks at the body/mind apparatus as composed of various layers or sheaths of active energy. At the grossest is the body. At a more subtle layer is the “emotional body,” then the mind as controller of its activities. And more subtle still is the intellect, the process of ratiocination, making connections and insight.
All activities engage all of the levels, but some activities have their center of gravity more on one level than another. According to the present scheme, Nondual inquiry begins largely at the energetic level of the intellect. But the insights permeate all levels. And nondual insights deconstruct the levels altogether.
In order that the intellect do its appointed job well, it needs to be somewhat calm. It cannot be jumpy or inclined to nod off into sleep.
For the intellect to be calm, the less subtle levels need to be somewhat calm as well. This is familiar - if there is emotional turbulence, it is hard to think.
There are activities that address each of the levels. Such as karma yoga or recreational dancing or athletics for the physical level. Bhakti yoga or art or singing or performing music for the emotional level. Raja yoga or study or concentrated meditation for the level of controlling the mind. And jnana yoga or mathematics or other kinds of coursing stuff out for the intellectual level.
The calmer the levels that are less subtle than the intellect, the calmer the intellect will be able to be.
This is where zazen helped me. It came in at the level of the control-of-the-mind level and smoothed things out wonderfully. Plus it gives a taste of silence. For me, it helped the mind stay with the subtleties of jnana yoga without a a rage of chattering thoughts, and without getting drowsy and falling asleep.
Zazen is taught at Zen centers. Phenomenally (not doctrinally) it is a process of keeping the mind extremely steady on a subtle object like counting or the breath. There are two things that could depart from that: a chatty mind or a sleepy one. Whenever you notice that either has happened, you simply go back to counting or following the breath.
Besides calmness and stability and subtlety, I noticed physically healthy things, like better digestion, more energy on the lower body and more closely focused in everything where needed.
One can do zazen earlier in the day, and then nondual inquiry later in the day. And nondual inquiry will be supercharged. Of course there are other preparatory activities that will help. This was just my experiences with zazen!


Hi Andrej, Here are some examples of which inquiries were helped by Zazen.... I did years of inquiries, mostly before I did Zazen. The main inquiry I did with the aid of Zazen was later and extremely subtle: I was looking into why Truth and Reality were widely held to be nondual whereas I experienced a very slight, benevolent duality between witnessing awareness and the arisings that seemed to arise from/to it. There was no suffering (I was at the so-called "transparent witness" gestalt). But even so, I was drawn to this issue for over a year. I happened to be doing Zazen at the time - I only realized later that it helped, and how it helped. How did Zazen help? I was already pretty good at focusing and keeping my attention on an object. My father had this too. He brought it his work home and did it at the large dinner table while the TV was on a few feet away and we kids were running around. It didn't bug him a bit! He taught this focus to us. We were a family of introverted artists, so it was easy. All my school, military and corporate experience helped with focus as well. But this topic (subject/object distinction) was very slippery. In a word, Zazen helped make the mind more open and subtle. It quieted the mind so that it was more open to subtle insight coming from unexpected angles, as opposed to the usual ones. And it helped the mind recognize patterns and formulations of a vaguer and more subtle type. Here's a physicalist-type example. Imagine putting a long hair in a phone book and then cover it with one page. Then shut your eyes and try to trace the hair with your fingertips


Kyle Dixon: 

Sitting has been invaluable for me in my life, with positive, long lasting effects. I really cannot recommend it enough. Also the more I sat, and the more stable my meditation became, the brighter my mind became, like increasing the brightness on a lamp. Energetically things became very coordinated, like Greg mentioned, and what I would call instances of transcendent insight would erupt spontaneously. Which were like precursors to larger events of the same species. Meditation if done right is just a fantastic supplement to any spiritual endeavor. It breathes life into the process and makes everything easier and more enjoyable.


See: Buddha's meditation instruction on mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati):



Soh Wei Yu shared a link.
  · 5h  · 
Although the AtR blog mostly writes on insight, and in a sense after the correct insights equipoise and post equipoise becomes mixed, still it is important not to neglect meditation and samadhi and sitting.
Just today, John Tan said,
“U must also practice sitting meditation and have quality time in anatta free from apprender and apprehended, experience whatever sensations as insubstantial and light, natural and luminous. Keep opening up as if inner radiance turns outer, convex turns concave.”
“Both (insight and sitting meditation) r equally important.”
“Yeah. 当下无心,very direct and very easy. When mind thinks and meddle with conventional, that is different. However after sometimes, when radiance and luminousity takes over, everything becomes radiance and energy.
Spend quality time in sitting until Ur radiance and calm abiding is integrated. Important.”
“In terms of radiance and purity, very fine, clean, immaculate, pellucid and crystal.. Free floating and insubstantial but there is no thoughts, concepts. Just pure radiance...this must be a very very quality, natural and calm and peace without any sense of apprender and apprehended. That is y u have to spend some quality time in it. Then u will understand your to penetrate 3 states and what to do automatically.”
P.s. was meditating earlier today at a park as usual on weekends or when im free. Weekdays i sit at home.
Read these:
On the importance of Both insight and calm abiding by Buddha:


A teaching by Zen Master Dogen:

Fukan Zazengi (Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen)

The way is originally perfect and all-pervading. How could it be contingent on practice and realization? The true vehicle is self-sufficient. What need is there for special effort? Indeed, the whole body is free from dust. Who could believe in a means to brush it clean? It is never apart from this very place; what is the use of traveling around to practice? And yet, if there is a hairsbreadth deviation, it is like the gap between heaven and earth. If the least like or dislike arises, the mind is lost in confusion. Suppose you are confident in your understanding and rich in enlightenment, gaining the wisdom that knows at a glance, attaining the Way and clarifying the mind, arousing an aspiration to reach for the heavens. You are playing in the entranceway, but you are still short of the vital path of emancipation.

Consider the Buddha: although he was wise at birth, the traces of his six years of upright sitting can yet be seen. As for Bodhidharma, although he had received the mind-seal, his nine years of facing a wall is celebrated still. If even the ancient sages were like this, how can we today dispense with wholehearted practice?

Therefore, put aside the intellectual practice of investigating words and chasing phrases, and learn to take the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward. Body and mind of themselves will drop away, and your original face will manifest. If you want to realize such, get to work on such right now.
For practicing Zen, a quiet room is suitable. Eat and drink moderately. Put aside all involvements and suspend all affairs. Do not think "good" or "bad." Do not judge true or false. Give up the operations of mind, intellect, and consciousness; stop measuring with thoughts, ideas, and views. Have no designs on becoming a buddha. How could that be limited to sitting or lying down?

At your sitting place, spread out a thick mat and put a cushion on it. Sit either in the full-lotus or half-lotus position. In the full-lotus position, first place your right foot on your left thigh, then your left foot on your right thigh. In the half-lotus, simply place your left foot on your right thigh. Tie your robes loosely and arrange them neatly. Then place your right hand on your left leg and your left hand on your right palm, thumb-tips lightly touching. Straighten your body and sit upright, leaning neither left nor right, neither forward nor backward. Align your ears with your shoulders and your nose with your navel. Rest the tip of your tongue against the front of the roof of your mouth, with teeth together and lips shut. Always keep your eyes open, and breathe softly through your nose.

Once you have adjusted your posture, take a breath and exhale fully, rock your body right and left, and settle into steady, immovable sitting. Think of not thinking, "Not thinking --what kind of thinking is that?" Nonthinking. This is the essential art of zazen.

The zazen I speak of is not meditation practice. It is simply the dharma gate of joyful ease, the practice realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the koan realized; traps and snares can never reach it. If you grasp the point, you are like a dragon gaining the water, like a tiger taking to the mountains. For you must know that the true dharma appears of itself, so that from the start dullness and distraction are struck aside.

When you arise from sitting, move slowly and quietly, calmly and deliberately. Do not rise suddenly or abruptly. In surveying the past, we find that transcendence of both mundane and sacred, and dying while either sitting or standing, have all depended entirely on the power of zazen.

In addition, triggering awakening with a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and effecting realization with a whisk, a fist, a staff, or a shout --these cannot be understood by discriminative thinking; much less can they be known through the practice of supernatural power. They must represent conduct beyond seeing and hearing. Are they not a standard prior to knowledge and views?

This being the case, intelligence or lack of it is not an issue; make no distinction between the dull and the sharp-witted. If you concentrate your effort single-mindedly, that in itself is wholeheartedly engaging the way.

Practice-realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward is, after all, an everyday affair.
In general, in our world and others, in both India and China, all equally hold the buddha-seal. While each lineage expresses its own style, they are all simply devoted to sitting, totally blocked in resolute stability. Although they say that there are ten thousand distinctions and a thousand variations, they just wholeheartedly engage the way in zazen. Why leave behind the seat in your own home to wander in vain through the dusty realms of other lands? If you make one misstep, you stumble past what is directly in front of you.

You have gained the pivotal opportunity of human form. Do not pass your days and nights in vain. You are taking care of the essential activity of the buddha-way. Who would take wasteful delight in the spark from a flintstone? Besides, form and substance are like the dew on the grass, the fortunes of life like a dart of lightning --emptied in an instant, vanished in a flash.

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.


Is Meditation Restricted to Sitting?

It is important to understand that post anatta, meditation is not restricted to sitting. However, it is still important to have a disciplined and consistent practice of sitting meditation and have quality time to meditate. John Tan sits two hours or more a day (he separates to two sessions - morning and evening), and attributes great progress to developing meditative composure and doing self-retreat.

"Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing) is good. After your insight, master a form of technique that can bring you to the state of anatta without going through a thought process." - John Tan, 2013

“A state of freedom is always a natural state, that is a state of mind free from self/Self. You should familiarize yourself with the taste first. Like doing breathing meditation until there is no-self and left with the inhaling and exhaling... then understand what is meant by releasing.” - John Tan, 2013

“When we practice zazen our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say “inner world” or “outer world,” but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, “I breathe,” the “I” is extra. There is no you to say “I.” What we call “I” is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no “I,” no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.” - Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki

"You can meditate everywhere in all activities, meditation of non-dual is not restricted to sitting post anatta, this should be a moment to moment event for you. It is not about anatta insight, you need to complement what you lack for sitting meditation, equanimity is what you need to improve, don't waste too much time on FB [facebook] activities. Also do exercises, don't get energy imbalances." - John Tan

“Even up till longchen's (Sim Pern Chong's) stage [having realised non-duality], meditation is still very important except it should not be form and technique bound. So still sit and meditate. :) Spend quality hours in being naked... and let this continue till you experienced clearly what is the meaning of 'emptiness is form'. it can take 20-30 years. :P You must make it a habit, then you can progress fast. Even after experiencing non-dual, you must still work hard till it stabilizes. One should work harder after non-dual. :P So spend quality minutes in meditations. Don't just talk and ask for knowledge." - John Tan, 2007

John Tan:

“When you are luminous and transparent, don't think of dependent origination or emptiness, that is [the contemplative practice for] post-equipoise. When hearing sound, like the sound of flowing water and chirping bird, it is as if you are there. It should be non-conceptual, no sense of body or me, transparent, as if the sensations stand out. You must always have some quality time into this state of anatta. Means you cannot keep losing yourself in verbal thoughts, you got to have quality hours dedicated to relaxation and experience fully without self, without reservation." - John Tan, 2018

John Tan:

"After this insight, one must also be clear of the way of anatta and the path of practice. Many wrongly conclude that because there is no-self, there is nothing to do and nothing to practice. This is precisely using "self view" to understand "anatta" despite having the insight.

It does not mean because there is no-self, there is nothing to practice; rather it is because there is no self, there is only ignorance and the chain of afflicted activities. Practice therefore is about overcoming ignorance and these chain of afflictive activities. There is no agent but there is attention. Therefore practice is about wisdom, vipassana, mindfulness and concentration. If there is no mastery over these practices, there is no liberation. So one should not bullshit and psycho ourselves into the wrong path of no-practice and waste the invaluable insight of anatta. That said, there is the passive mode of practice of choiceless awareness, but one should not misunderstand it as the "default way" and such practice can hardly be considered "mastery" of anything, much less liberation."

0 Responses