In the Mahayana Buddhism mindfulness is seen as insight and wisdom, but what kind of wisdom are we speaking of? It was the ninth century famous Ch’an Master Lin-chi I-hsuan Hui-chao (Japanese, “Rinzai Gigen”) who claimed: “On your lump of red flesh is a true man without rank who is always going in and out of the face of every one of you. Those who have not yet proved him, look, look!” The Chinese have a poetic way of expressing themselves. What he tried to express is that we should allow our direct experiences to be witnessed as such, without trying to modify them by our subliminal mind and our innate habit patterns. As Toni packer states it: “Can our relationship with each other be one of listening together and looking together? Can the images that come up be seen for what they are and be put aside so that they do not distort the listening and looking together?”
Reading this you might get a hunch that it may not be so simple to actually do this. Not many teachers of old reached this state of listening and interacting, but when they did it was usually through decades of training. The interpersonal mindfulness and compassion deepening retreat is set up to create the direct experience as expressed in the above quotes. By combining speech and silence in our meditation we enhance the level of attention generated and become aware of the most subtle ways in which our minds interfere with the experience of ourselves, the group and reality. How we involuntarily use our past experiences to colour in the present moment, disrupting the direct experience of suchness. By doing this in a very structured manner in a group we create the capacity to not take our own habit patterns personally and we become able to rise above them. This will give an experiential insight in the structure and fabric of the mind, thoughts and feelings, allowing us to be temporarily free from our habit patterns. Finally you will prove the true (wo)man of no rank as (s)he moves freely in and out of your face.
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