Bhavana and Sunnata

Posted: 10/10/2017 in Buddhadasa, Meditation
Tags: ,

Today I have just done another home retreat. I usually go for a massage late Saturday afternoon, so it was interesting to see that when I arrived home I wanted to meditate. I did so for half an hour but began to feel tired – I usually do after massage. I ate and dozed off and on for two or three hours, and then woke up. It was 11 and I was wide awake.

This is a pre-amble to the home retreat. My sleep is totally screwed at the moment, the home retreat concerned sleep. I went to bed at 5 am and couldn’t sleep. Maybe about 6/6.30 I gave up and meditated (no timing) – I wanted to sleep because I wanted to do a home retreat so I didn’t give up and start computing. I was focussing on harmony with Nature as I have lost my natural sleep rhythm. After maybe an hour I was beginning to think there was a chance of sleep, and tried. I didn’t think I could sleep, had a vivid surface dream – dreaming but not feeling like I was asleep, and woke just after 9. There were strange feelings in my gerd area, I was worried about them. It was connected with harmony, and mind and body dropping – Dogen.

I went back to sleep and woke at 12, so I had not had enough sleep and was tired. But I wanted to home retreat so I started. 45 mins, then break, 45 mins and then break, 25 mins and break – wrote about “history ego”, 25 mins and then ate and walked. It was now 6.15. Home retreat is improving. 3rd session, some pain from knee but mostly poor discipline made me stop early – mind was “resisting”.

The theme of the home retreat started with sleep but finished with bhavana. I think the bhavana was contributing to the sleep problem. I am working through this so please don’t take this as truth, if I am way off I will amend the blogpost though. I am amending now.

First:-

I have never been good with samadhi (concentration) and meditation has usually been self-guiding towards learning. This retreat started with sleep, went into harmony with nature, and then saw the issue as bhavana. Instead of developing mind I have been expanding mind, and selves are being created as vinnana attaches to the expanded mind that is bhavana. This is just creating selves, it is not bhavana. There needs to be concentration to focus the mind for it to develop. I began to look at developing mind centring/focussing in the heart, and I could feel the pointed mind getting clearer.

Second:-

I was amazed at the power of self (ego) at the weekend with the historian justifying English nationalism as peace and compassion and colonialism being primarily Scottish. But in my arrogance I missed my own self concerning this bhavana. The clue is in what is happening (or not happening) – sleep. This is not natural so it is self. I have already recognised my self-indulgence tv entertainment, and now understand the vinaya; entertainment encourages self. Throughout my life there has been this self-indulgence – passing time. I have never cared for TV, very rarely have I made the effort to watch a particular thing, but it is there and on. I excused it as tired from teaching, firstly when I was hungover and then when stressed. By the time I retired it was a complete habit – yet in my mind it was with disinterest.

But I never connected it as the cause of my sleep problem; it is but I never connected it. What is happening. I come in, eat and fall asleep. Wake up, refreshed but it is late so I slip into tv-watching. When awake I should be active, reading watching teachers, blogging etc. But it is late and I think tired although I have just woken up. Normal sleeping hours have gone by but it doesn’t matter because I am not working. And when I get up I meditate and write.

But my sleep pattern is crazy and not healthy – not natural. But what else happens? I go to bed tired but cannot sleep. I lie there for a while, and then give up. Where do I go? Self-indulgent tv watching. To be fair sometimes it is good stuff but not always. But now I know it will always be good stuff or not giving up.

But the power of this self is amazing. The years of tv watching has created a screwed-up metabolism. Both digestion and metabolism both work together to prevent sleep. Self has created a screwed-up metabolism that is preventing natural sleep patterns, that is then indulging this self by watching more tv longer and longer. Crazy. Amazing I didn’t see it. I did with bhavana, and yet to begin with the self (of the self-indulgence) deflected to blaming bhavana above. So devious. It is so amazing – fascinating.

Third

I had hoped that was the end of it, I had hoped awareness would be enough!!! I am somewhat ashamed. I had thought my life was on track but sleep problems certainly shows it isn’t. Whatever the routine I was studying writing and so on. But I am ashamed because it is skewed over something as mundane as tv.

Last night was not good. I had slept mid-evening and drifted into tv watching. Past 12. I was getting irritated. Past 01.00 more irritated. Whatever I have recognised as self-indulgence I was not changing. 01.34 to bed. Some sleep. Awake 03.34. It was no good, problem was not going to correct itself. Phra solution, a phra day. Things were not going to get better, this is chronic tv watching. Drastic solution. Phra day. Not only was the tv getting into sleep it was into digestion and metabolism.

Only solution Phra day. Sleep 11-6 every day – like a job. Breakfast before 9 if possible. Main meal at lunch. Avoid food after that, not renounce avoid. At the most a sandwich for tea. Fruit OK. No big meal as digestion will not have dealt with it. A complete change of day. Shame, need to do this over tv self- indulgence.

At the beginning of this post self had questioned bhavana, but it was bhavana that solved the problem – found the self and came up with the solution.

To sunnata it becomes necessary to be clear about some functioning and terminology. Basically what happens with vinnana? What is consciousness? The 5 khandas are concerned with nama-rupa that which is conditioned and temporary. When there is mindfulness there is no attachment. The state of mindfulness occurs when nama-rupa is not attaching, when vinnana is not attaching. So what is happening with bhavana – mental development? The mind (nama) has been expanding, mind-vinnana has been attaching to the expanding mind. This expanding mind has been over-active (over-attached), and I have not been sleeping. I have been developing the mind incorrectly, whilst there have been positives there have also been this mind-expanding negative with attachment – selves. Bhavana – I must develop concentration whilst developing concentration so that I am not just creating mind-expansion.

So now the question concerns bhavana and sunnata, have I got the right view? Nama-rupa is temporary and is not connected with sunnata. So why is consciousness connected with sunnata? Mindfulness has the body, psyche and self systems in place (Buddhadasa approach) but what has mindfulness go to do with the emptiness system? What happens when we feel presence? When mindfulness has the 5 khandas in place, then there is a touch of awareness (vinnana) that feels sunnata – presence. Mindfulness is also needed to make sure that vinnana does not attach to sunnata. Mindfulness is judgement-free awareness, sufficient awareness (vinnana) that optimises the 4 other khandas with no attachment, sufficient awareness that can feel sunnata but not attach. Bhavana develops mindfulness through insight and concentration.

Mind is meant to be aware of sunnata as presence, that is a faculty of vinnana, but attachment is a hindrance; mindfulness prevents the hindrances. In Buddhism and other areas of spirituality there are all kinds of discussions about emptiness, pure consciousness, presence etc., none of which you have any direct control over. It all depends on the degree of mindfulness, and that we have control of – making our minds as perfect as they can be. How good our mindfulness is determines access to emptiness, determines our relationship with the emptiness system.

Working on mindfulness however is not easy but at least we can work on it, the rest is beyond our control. Bhavana helps develop mind which can then be controlled to develop mindfulness.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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