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Contemplation Station #4: Burma (Myanmar)

Welcome to the next Contemplation Station: Burma (aka Myanmar). I am being a bit selfish (yet again) in bringing you here, because I went to an IMS retreat last week, and I was inspired by Carol Wilson and Steve Armstrong, both who have studied under and were inspired by Ashin Tejaniya and his teachings of Buddhism and meditation.

As our dear Nancy Thompson pointed out, there is, as in all places, political difficulty, violence, and even confusion here in Burma—and we can point out monks that are involved and seeming to arouse these difficulties—very sad. Thank goodness we are informed, lest we become too relaxed in our efforts to discover the truth. As has been said often enough, what has come to be is all there is, and understanding just how and why the causes and conditions have led to this present moment is part of our search on the path. Even tragedy and loss can act as a spacious mirror to inform our actions in what has come to be at every moment.

As an the abbot and meditation teacher in Yangon, Myanmar, I am certain that Ashin Tejaniya has a word or two to say to help us along on our path this week. Hello Ashin Tejaniya, what words of advice to you have for us?

“When the mind becomes quieter, there is a lot of work left to do. You have to start investigating at that time. When the mind becomes quiet it does not mean that there is nothing to do—the mind has become ready! When you do not bring in questions to help the mind look more critically at what is happening, it will feel that there is nothing to do.”

From Awareness Alone is Not Enough by Ashin Tejaniya (p. 91)

Check this out. Ashin Tejaniya’s books are available for free—none are for sale. Let’s load up on some teachings! Here is Dhamma Everywhere: Welcoming Each Moment with Awareness + Wisdom. Here is Don’t Look Down on the Defilements: They Will Laugh at You. Here is Awareness Alone is Not Enough. Here are a lot of things.

So, while we’re here in Myanmar, let’s arouse some wisdom. Try this out. Spend a few minutes doing any kind of meditation practice that you are used to and that you think is useful for settling the mind (brain/body/feelings). Often people will use the breath to do this (notice the rising and falling of your breath in your body).

Then, spend some minutes opening yourself up to be aware of ANYTHING that arises. Let a sound or a sensation in your body, or a thought, or aversion, or desire, or anything, and just let your awareness rest on that. If awareness disappears, when it comes back, recognize what awareness feels like again, and observe what arises.

After you feel that awareness is present, and your mind is settled, ask yourself what a ‘quiet’ moment feels like, and use your mind to analyze the quote above. Does it feel like there is something that we need to do when the mind has settled? Is there something more to discover in that moment?

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