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The Mystery

Sedona, Arizona

January 21, 2021

Here's a transcript of a meditation I did this afternoon. I thought it was quite helpful.


I had an idea about something cool to talk about today. I think one way to sum up what I want to talk about is the notion of self improvement in some ways is like a cosmic joke.

Not the soulful side of self improvement. There is this thing of wanting to live according to your values and being curious of what's in the way of that. That's totally legitimate and important.

But you can't really be a meditator very long and not start to get this sneaky feeling that you don't really know who you are. That the person that you're trying so hard to change is much more mysterious than the person you thought when you started out.

And that's the part that's kind of the joke: What am I actually trying to change here? Whom am I trying to change? Who is this person? The act of trying to critique ourselves is a little like there's a moving river of you constantly changing, moving in the world and you are turned around backwards, looking down river trying to freeze the flow by describing what's there, when it's already moved on. In other words, we are always looking in the past and seeing the “past” person that we are trying to change when we can’t change anything in the past.

So that's one sense in which the idea of self improvement is kind of ridiculous. And then there's an even deeper sense which is: do we even know who we are at our core, the person at the very root of things whose knowing and whose experiencing is deeply mysterious. And actually that part of us, that mysterious part of us, can't be improved upon.

That's kind of the punch line to a lot of contemplative inquiry. That there is a part of us that is irreducible, unimprovable and profoundly mysterious.

Another way of saying all of that is that sometimes I think the whole idea of self improvement is a bit ridiculous. It's not that I don't see the value in trying to be more patient or a better listener or any of those things obviously meditations a lot about this. What's ridiculous is the huge gap between who we think we are and the actual mystery we live inside. Who even is this person who are trying to improve? This meditation is about locating ourselves where we belong at the center a great mystery.

Start your meditation. Then connect to your equanimity, which is the part of you that decides to be totally fine with everything that's happening in your immediate experience.

All the sounds around you they're allowed to be here. All states of mind and body are allowed to be here.

Equanimity is the part of us that's able to allow all things without getting uptight or bracing or wishing the moment or some other way than it actually is. See if you can connect to this orientation. This is going to be the ultimate practice of staying open, bringing an attitude of humility and not knowing, to the mystery of who you are. The basic instruction is to just sit and be.

All you need to do is just exist. And whenever the mind comes in to collapse some part of your experience into words, just good naturedly noticed that and say, “Mystery.” That's our label, our reminder. Mystery. To try it just sit back and play with this idea of living in mystery. See how it feels. So you're sitting in your being.

And you can't really improve on that. The breath rises and falls sounds come and go. And through all of it you sit. For cultivating an attitude of not even knowing why we're sitting, at even knowing who we are. And we're doing this to give ourselves a break, to let ourselves rest and just get humble for a bit. So as soon as the mind has something to say about anything, you can good naturedly say, “Mystery.” And see if you can find something satisfying about this about not needing to know., not needing to change, not needing anything to be in any other way than it already is.

Awaken our experience. Not seizing on to ideas about the world or ideas about ourselves. Instead it's like we're turned outward, to the unfolding mystery of the present, which is happening all on its own. For the next few moments. be that Mystery.

Sitting. Breathing. Being. So much energy goes into commentary and yet the thing we're commenting on is already obsolete, it's already moved on.

So see if you can do without that layer. Just rest in the not knowing. In the not needing to know. In the Mystery.

Open to the Mystery.

There's the Mystery of our own complexity -- the million weird and wonderful ways we are configured and continue to be configured. And below this there's an even deeper Mystery. The Mystery of our own being. Our own awareness. Connected backwards into the Mystery of everything else.

When we critique ourselves we are like these myopic scholars holding a map up to our faces pointing out the flaws. While all around us a vast living landscape homes with majesty and wonder. You're allowed to tap into this landscape. It's liberating.

As you go about your day. Hold yourself lightly. You are the caretaker of a great Mystery.

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1 Comment

Jan 22, 2021

This one went way over my head.....

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