‘Subconscious gossip’ of our awakened minds | Worship

By Sal Barba, a local Buddhist | Apr 02, 2014

We are not driven by distraction. We are driven by grasping, rejecting and denial. Distractions are considered our “subconscious gossip,” a phrase given by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

Although there is no higher happiness than peace, we must develop attentional skills and continuous mindfulness to incline our mind toward equanimity, as well as not allow it to become seduced by a lower level of happiness.

When we cultivate “shama” (peace or pacification) through attention and awareness, we are developing Samadhi. Samadhi has more than one meaning, but in this context it refers to a state of meditative concentration in which the mind is un-distracted, and can rest without wavering upon its chosen object.

Ponlope Rinpoche quotes the Buddha regarding Samadhi by saying, “It would be more meritorious to remain in Samadhi for one instant than to spend millions of aeons of gathering the accumulations of merit through other means.”

We can accumulate a vast amount of merit through this quality of unwavering attention. Therefore, it is important to understand that the practice of meditation consists of the development and maintenance of non-distraction.

Therefore, as long as our mind is not distracted, we will avoid the development of addictive craving that arises from our experiences of the senses. Through unwavering attention, we can cut right through self-doubt.

Through our practice of unwavering attention (relaxing upon the object of our choice), we avoid the three obstacles: attachment, lack of confidence and distraction. In this column, I am concentrating on the timely topic of distraction.

Distraction has two features that signal to us that we are distracted: Outer distractions and inner distractions. The first type, outer, is when we become too focused and attached to the activities of the outer world. The second type of distraction is the inner. This is the distraction of our thoughts.

The first quality of distraction is the preoccupation with past events, such as with places, events, dreams and people. We obsess over these issues, robbing ourselves of peace of mind.

The past is simply a fantasy that doesn’t exist, because it has ceased to exist. This quality of reflection is no better than Bill Murray’s “Ground Hog Day.”

The second quality of distracting thought is reflecting upon the future, such as, “Oh, I must get this done and that done before I can rest or show up in the present moment!”

I’m reminded of the story Leo Buscaglia tells. He had to catch a plane to attend another public speaking event, when approached by a man on staff at the event he had been speaking, and agreed to quickly visit his home to meet the man’s wife, who wanted so much to meet with Dr. Buscaglia.

When he arrived, the man’s wife was so excited that Leo was there in their home that she frantically paced around the house cleaning and tiding up the place. Leo kept informing her that he had to depart for the airport very soon, but she continued tidying up the place until it was too late.

This is what many of us do. Our attention gets hijacked by this quality of distraction.

I will continue discussing attention practice in my next column. Until then, I invite you to reflect with unwavering attention upon these three questions:

Am I present?

Am I certain?

What am I doing in this moment?

May you be gentle, kind and understanding to yourself and to all sentient beings.

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