meditation to a jar of muddy water: The more we leave the

water without interfering or stirring it, the more the particles

of dirt will sink to the bottom, letting the natural clarity of the

water shine through. The very nature of the mind is such that

if you only leave it in its unaltered and natural state, it will

find its true nature, which is bliss and clarity.

So take care not to impose anything on the mind or to tax

it. When you meditate there should be no effort to control

and no attempt to be peaceful. Don't be overly solemn or feel

that you are taking part in some special ritual; let go even of

the idea that you are meditating. Let your body remain as it

is, and your breath as you find it. Think of yourself as the sky,

holding the whole universe.


The discipline of the practice of Calm Abiding is to keep

bringing your mind back to the object of meditation, for

example, the breath. If you're distracted, then suddenly, the

instant you remember, you simply bring your mind back to

your breathing. Nothing else is necessary. Even to ask, "How

on earth did I get so distracted?" is just another distraction.

The simplicity of mindfulness, of continuously bringing your

mind back to the breath, gradually calms it down. Gradually,

mind will settle, in the mind.

As you perfect the practice of Calm Abiding and you

become one with the breath, after a while even the breath

itself as the focus of your practice dissolves, and you find yourself

resting in nowness. This is the one-pointedness that is the

fruition and the goal of shamatha, or Calm Abiding. Remaining

in nowness and stillness is an excellent accomplishment, but to

return to the example of the glass of muddy water—if you

keep it still, the dirt will settle and it will become clear, and yet

the dirt will still be there, deep down. One day if you stir it,

the dirt will rise again. As long as you cultivate stillness, you

may enjoy peace, but whenever your mind is a little bit disturbed,

deluded thoughts will set in again.

Remaining in the nowness of Calm Abiding cannot lead us

to enlightenment or liberation. Nowness becomes a very subtle

object, and the mind that dwells in nowness a subtle subject. As

long as we remain in the domain of subject-object duality, the

mind is still within the ordinary conceptual world of samsara.

Through the practice of Calm Abiding, then, the mind has

settled into a state of peace and found stability. Just as the

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