“Breathing in, I’m aware I’m breathing in. Breathing out, I’m aware I’m breathing out. Here there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today ... only the present moment. This is the only reality. All else is thought.”
As I’ve noted in many posts, the main challenge in walking the path at this point in my practice is being aware 24/7 of my ego-mind arising in all of its manifestations, especially in ones that are more innocuous. Since my thinking mind, my ego-mind, is at the center of all my perceived problems, all my frustrations, all my samsara ... since it is the repository of all my learned experiences ... the perfect antidote to my thinking mind is being present free of the intervention of thought. (NOTE: one can never be literally free of thought, it is always there like the ego, but one can through awareness be free of its intervention.)
I already knew that when I was able to be present without thought, I experienced peace, contentment, love, and oneness with all things. If there was a real problem right now in the present I would be aware of it but I would have compassion towards it and have no thought about its future. I had faith that if I live each moment well, the future will take care of itself. But if my thinking mind intruded and hijacked me, my feelings of peace and contentment would be lost and I would be anxious, frustrated, and agitated.
For example, the other day, I was out and about and witnessed something that pushed my buttons regarding a degrading aspect of our culture. ... really bad suburban sprawl in an exurban area. This may seem silly to you, but I was demoralized and upset, offended, by this omnipresent issue; you can hardly go anywhere without running into it. This morning while I was present I asked myself whether this was just an example of my own perception, in which case I should let it go, or did it represent a real problem.
I replayed what I saw but this time with myself being present free of the intervention of thought, in touch with my true Buddha mind. And what I found was that I was aware that this phenomenon was truly harmful both to the environment and to people, but I accepted that it’s just the way it is and I had compassion both for the people who created this sprawl and all those who lives are impacted by it in unknown ways. I felt concern but was free of agitation.
As the ancient poem, “Affirming Faith in Mind,” says (in my paraphrasing):
“When the mind is one with the way,
The mind rests undisturbed.
And when the mind is undisturbed
Nothing in the world offends.”
While awareness of the problems caused by my thinking mind, my ego-mind, were not new to me ... that’s what surrendering my ego to my true Buddha nature and turning my will and my life over to its care is all about ... my developing practice of being present free of the intervention of thought has shown its very practical power in helping me follow that path. I am finding it to be the key to my opening dharma gates, opening the door to reality, opening the door to peace and contentment.
By increasing my awareness throughout the day, I am slowly expanding the amount of time when I am able to be present, free of the intervention of thought, just observing, because I am able to be very aware if my ego-mind arises. When it does, I show it compassion and understanding, but note firmly that I have looked deep within myself and found that what it is urging on me is not what will bring me peace and contentment and that from now on I will be looking for such guidance to my true Buddha nature.