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We can understand meditation practice as consisting to a large extent, if not entirely, in noticing what we had not noticed before. Within moments of your first meditation experience, you likely noticed how prone your mind is to wandering.

If you keep practicing consistently for a long enough time, you may also start to notice how you almost never really pay close attention to anything. Brain researchers figured out a long time ago that we do not actually read one word at a time. Part of the reason why it is easy to fail to notice a missing word or…


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I’m sure we’ve all heard the terrible story of the young woman who used Gorilla Glue in her hair and ultimately had to rely on the good offices of a plastic surgeon to remove it.

Don’t do that.

Happily, we here refer to a more metaphorical meaning of “glue.” We would like to have the permanence of Gorilla Glue, but we’ll have to settle for our own mindfulness.

Once you become aware of consciousness, the transcendent space of lumious mind, you should glue your awareness to it.

You want to switch from your ordinary, daily awareness that you bring when…


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Obviously, you are not the same as you were when you were born, or when you were a small child. Think back to your earliest memory. You are physically larger and you know a lot of stuff you did not know then. If you can remember before you learned to read, you have that critical skill that distinguishes you now from then. You likely have learned a lot else since then.

But you can still remember your childhood. Your basic awareness, or consciousness, is the same now as it was then. …


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I find this fascinating. You should work on being aware of your awareness. Tibetan Buddhism has a set of saying, called “lojong,” one of which is “Examine the nature of unborn awareness.”

If you are reading this, you are aware of it in some important sense, but you are not necessarily aware you are aware. This is where mindfulness comes in. Being mindful means being aware of what you are doing while you are doing it.

You can, from the Buddhist perspective, you should be, aware of your awareness. We use the term, “awakening.” Just doing what you do without…


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It has been some time since a common piece of pop psychology enjoined everyone to “own your anger.” I take that to be a response to the leftover Puritan impulse to suppress one’s emotions, which is not a good idea.

Buddhists have a third option. Do not suppress your emotions. Look at them, accept them, and realize that they are not yours because nothing is yours because there is no you to own anything.

One of the seven factors of awakening is equanimity. We will still have emotions when we awaken, but we will not let them trouble us because…


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I initially typed, “Your Awareness,” but there is no you to own anything. Awareness, or consciousness, exists quite apart from any human recognition or help.

Lots of teachers use “consciousness” and “awareness” pretty much interchangeably. I have said that, to my mind, “consciousness” is the more passive, background condition, while awareness is what we usually direct as we wish. “I was not aware of that” makes sense. “I was not conscious of that” is not wrong, it is a sensible statement in English, but we almost never hear it. …


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It’s always worthwhile to listen to Ajahn Sumedho. He is an old Thai forest monk who grew up in the United States, then went to Thailand to live at the forest monastery of Ajahn Chah for many years before moving to England and starting a new monastery there. He usually ends up saying something that he finds amusing and laughing, more or less at himself.

He is very clear that, after over 40 years as a monk, he has accomplished nothing.

This is a problem for anyone who wants to write about Buddhism. Most (all?) Buddhist teachers agree that there…


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It’s kind of annoying, actually. Awakening is cognitive — it has an intellectual component — but it is also affective — it has an emotional component. Wisdom and compassion.

There’s a switch in your heart center that goes from off to on when you awaken. But you can’t just find it and switch it. Finding the switch, if “finding” is even the right word for it, is like walking into a totally dark room, really dark, like deep in a cave dark, like zero light, knowing that there is a light switch in the room, and going looking for the…


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About the lifetime he was living when he awakened after he awakened. Why would he? He knew it was his last one, which is what realizing “the deathless” must mean.

He spent the rest of his life after his awakening teaching incessantly out of compassion for the many people — initially, everyone on the planet but him — who had not realized what he had.

This is an interesting situation anyone who has awakened faces. Arhants, fully awakened persons, are fearless because they know the current, material life is as nothing and they will not be back after they die…


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How most people think.

Apparently, a lot of people see virtue in doing the same thing everyone else does. If I see a crowd, I run away. I am happy to have voted with the majority in the last two presidential elections and think we should eliminate the Electoral College, since it handed the presidency twice in the past 20 years to the candidate who did not win the popular vote and that candidate was clearly not the better choice.

So that suggests that the population as a whole is capable of making intelligent choices.

This is partly just cultural…

William B. Turner

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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