Obscurations on the path of paramita practice are unique to each practitioner. There are some experiences that seem to show up for most folks. Yet even with those there is the individual experience that is relative to one’s habitual thought tendencies and history. So rather than list the common marks of obscuration, this week would be a time to inquire into your individual experience to see what obscures your practice of danaparamita. Gaining awareness of our habitual tendencies will help break the unconscious habits that impeded or veil the natural, inherent capacity of dana.
It may be helpful to begin by reviewing the previous posts about obscurations:
Here are a few excerpts:
As we begin the practices, we may notice that we are strongly defending a point of view, or a sense of uncomfortableness, or there is an outright rejection of another person’s experience or one of our own that brought up suffering, or there may be a tendency to become distracted while listening or studying a specific paramita. It is as if the paramita practices are pointing out a previously unknown obstacle on the path to understanding. “Look here. Pay attention to this.” If the aspiration for truth is present, we will begin to look carefully and inquire into these experiences. “How did that get there?” “What is the cause of that?” “Is it real or is it my mind playing tricks on me?” Perhaps after we look carefully, we will see something new about it. A way through or around, or the value of it.
Finding obstacles on a trail is similar to the obscurations that may show up as we plan to practice and also may show up on the path of the practice. They are made up of thoughts or emotions that have an unknown origin. They distract and dissuade us from the practice. We come up with what seem to be solid reasons for not continuing or not needing to practice. When we stop and take time to attend closely to these obscurations we may see that they are, like clouds, ephemeral and impermanent. And what seemed to be an unmovable obstacle begins to dissolve and lose it solidity. The image or memories of the obscurations may echo in our experience but we have an understanding of their nature as impermanent and maybe even unreal. And in the same way that the trail itself remains after a rainstorm, we notice that the paramitas, as the practice and expression of goodness, also remains after a storm of thought or emotions.
It may also be helpful to review the blogs on dana: https://gratefulroadwarrior.org/perceptions/
Or listen again to Zoketsu Norm Fischer’s teaching on dana: https://everydayzen.org/teachings/six-paramitas-1-insight-yoga-institute/
And then take up the practice of inquiring into the constrictions, obscurations or obstacles that may be presenting themselves as you practice danaparmita.
After settling onto a regular meditation practice of calm abiding, begin to let the body, heart, and mind experience the qualities of any phenomena of obscurations that may be present as you reflect on dana. Notice any sense of obscuration. Perhaps there is a reflection of it in the physical body, or memories that arise, or overall sensations, when you hold these images of phenomena in your experience. Stay with that for several minutes. See what shows up. Each time some memory or physical sensation presents itself that feels like an obstacle or obscuration to dana, sense into the quality of the experience. You may notice that there are thoughts, judgments or emotions about what you are experiencing. Check those out like you might when looking at a cloud. See what they are made of. Notice if they change or remain solid under the gaze of your attention. As you finish the practice, gently bring your awareness back to the body and or breath; reengaging with the physical senses and environment. Rest for a bit without effort or practice.
Then as you go about your daily life see what happens when you apply this practice to any experience of resistance, constriction, or suffering in the practice of danaparamita. And then as usual, just see what shows up.
With these words I pay homage to all buddhas, bodhisattvas, sentient beings, and the totality. May these words not confuse, bring doubt, or harm, but bring ease and warmth and an end to suffering for all beings.
Practicing in sangha, even virtually, supports the practice of meditation differently than sitting solitarily. The members of the Sangha of the Pandemic, invite you to practice with us. No experience is required. There is no cost. Everyone is welcome.
We practice on ZOOM:
- Mondays – Calm abiding and insight meditation. 6 AM Pacific Time
- Tuesdays – Body awareness. 6 AM Pacific Time
- Thursdays – Tonglen, 6 AM Pacific Time
- Sundays – Brahmavihara. 7 AM Pacific Time
- Monday and Thursday. Contemplation and meditation. 4:30 PM Pacific Time
ZOOM Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89989680789
Please feel free to reach out with questions or insights. Please also feel free to forward this post and invite others to join the sangha. You may find more reflections, poetry, art at sanghaofthepandemic.org . If you would like to leave comments or participate in ongoing discussions about a blog, go to the end of the individual post or click on the little green box floating on the page.