Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The two sides of observation and the positive and negative sides of absorption

When we become caught, completely fish-hooked, completely absorbed by one of the many varieties of personality glitches such as anger (If he does that one more time, I’ll throw him off a cliff!!!!), we meet up with what the Buddhists call the kleshas or what the Sufis call the nafs. The nafs in its unrefined state, is "the ego", the lowest dimension of a person's inward animalistic existence. (I can’t stand that person.) We’re all familiar with the nafs: that passionate, sudden, and unexpected uprising of fury, or tears, or frustration, or unbalanced ecstasy, or uncontrollable giddiness, or, one of a whole range of emoli icons. We ask our self, “Where did that arise from? Why am I screaming at this person?” Why am I so out of control? How could I be so dumb?”
To undo the emotional charge of the nafs (Oh no, I definitely blew that interview....), one method is to observe the arising, the continuance and the dissipation of the particular emotional glitch that completely absorbs our attention. Observing the nafs allows us to place a tiny wedge into the nafs with our seeing or our sensing of it. As each particular nafs arise (Why is my girlfriend paying so much attention to that guy?), we can learn to initiate the observation process more quickly and become more efficient in our ability to observe. Ironically, the more often a particular nafs arises, the greater is the opportunity for us to improve our power of observation. And the stronger our observation power becomes, the weaker the nafs becomes.
In this process of observation, there is the separation from the distraction which negatively absorbs our attention and from that which disables our ability to be present to the world around us.
In the practices of concentration and contemplation, we suspend the brain’s function to name, to analyze and to compare. We simply observe that which we are placing our attention upon (a flower?) or that which we are contemplating. We learn that with intense but relaxed observation, we begin to lose our ‘I-ness’. This absorptive experience is the initial experience, the so-called first date, with the concept of union, with Oneness. In Oneness, there is no this and that. No duality. When there is the complete merging of the Beloved and the lover, even observation gets left behind. There can be no witness in complete absorption. Between the lover and the Beloved, there can only be the act of loving. The first date becomes a marriage. Samsara is Nirvana. This is That. Hence in Buddhism, there is the mantra Gate Gate Para Gate Parasamgate Bodhi Sva Ha. In Sufism, we say the Wasifa “Ahad”.
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adrian symonds
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