[Thomas McConkie, Mindfulness Teacher]
In the gospel, the tendency is to talk about our sinful nature. In the Dharma, we talk about those factors which obscure our natural awaken mind, our basic nature which is pure. The term used in early Buddhism is Avidya, which means to not see things as they are, essentially. And I want to take a look at the mechanism of Avidya. In Buddhist meditation, a lot of times we're essentially bringing a microscope to sensory experience where we're looking at a world that is not obvious to the naked eye or the untrained mind. But when we zoom in really close, when we bring a tremendous amount of precision, clarity, openness to sensory experience, we start to see a whole other world going on, and the basic mechanics of suffering are revealed to us. For short, I just call it push/pull. Start by taking a posture that's comfortable, but also invites alertness, wakefulness. Hold awareness open in a way that you can feel the entire body at once. Just do this the best you can. You're intending to feel the entire body at once, but also aware of emotional activity, thoughts in the mind. For a moment, I want you to pay special attention to anything and experience that you're experiencing, anything you're feeling or thinking that you would rather not be feeling or thinking. Some aspect of experience that if you could wave a magic wand, you'd make it go away. And just bring awareness here and feel the tendency to want to push this away, to push it out of experience, to struggle, to escape from the actual experience you're already having. Of course, if you're having an experience that is objectively harmful or dangerous, if your house is on fire, for example, and you're feeling hot and you wish you weren't feeling hot. The smart thing to do is get up, leave the building. But what we find when we work with this basic kind of meditation, when we look at the push/pull, the way we struggle moment to moment in life, we realize that the overwhelming majority of experience that we're pushing and pulling on is actually not an objective problem, and yet we still push and pull. We still suffer. Continue to stay open to this range of experience. Anything you're already feeling, already experiencing, that you'd rather not be experiencing, feel this tendency to push it away. Feel the tendency to struggle. Only now, instead of struggling, I want you to hold just a basic intention of relaxing, of letting go of struggle, and intention to not interfere with the flow of experience, comfortable or uncomfortable. On the other side of the spectrum, you can notice something you're not experiencing in this moment that you would like to be experiencing. An example could be, you might be relatively comfortable sitting in this moment, but you'd like to be even more comfortable. So something in you struggles, hopes, that somehow you could feel even more comfortable in an imagined future than you actually feel right now. Or it could be more subtle and abstract than this, could be that you feel a certain amount of pain in your heart. And the moment you become aware of this pain, you start to fantasize about having a heart that only feels good and being only appreciated by all of the people you hope would most appreciate you. Our elaborations can become very complex, but the basic mechanism of this struggle is that we're not feeling something in this moment that we would like to be feeling. And so we struggle. We invest energy in fantasizing. We get lost up in the dream world of the mind, all in the hopes of blunting the discomfort, the suffering that we feel in the body. Once again, if you notice this kind of pull quality, trying to pull a pleasant experience in closer, I want you to just bring an attitude of openness, of equanimity, of non-struggle to exactly this moment, experience exactly as it is, not as you would like it to be. Notice push, notice pull, trying to escape something you're feeling, trying to feel something you're not feeling, wishing you could be experiencing something other than what's actually happening. Shorthand for this is to simply drop any claim that something's wrong with the experience in this moment exactly as it is. This experience is exactly what it is. In this moment, there's no other option. What does it feel like when you drop the claim that something's wrong, that there's a problem? And you just feel, you just experience. Start to taste in the body and mind a more subtle experience that comes when we give up struggle. When we drop the complaint altogether that something's wrong. Of course, we don't spontaneously stop experiencing discomfort. That's the mind's fantasy. But rather we become naked to this experience as it is. We experience the world as it is. We see it as it is. Take another moment here, noticing push and pull in the body, mind. Each time you notice push and pull bringing this attitude of equanimity freshly, really pouring acceptance over the experience where a moment ago, we would struggle. Start to experience who you are when there's no activity of struggle whatsoever. What happens to the self when there's no problem to solve.