Paradoxical Distraction from the Natural State 


Is distraction from naturalness logically possible?

Reading page 47 of Clarifying the Natural State, I find that flawlessness is generally a tall order. 


Reading it is really, really something in light of how my lunchtime sit went today. For my mind was all over the place, with thoughts arising as little snippets of inner text, samatha states, pin-prickish restless sensations that I noted (yes, Burmese noted!) as such, spontaneous arising of metta practice for those in the room with me, sensations of feeling the energy of the others in the room, opening my eyes and seeing the autumn leaves blowing beyond the glass windows and feeling separate from them (noted), trying to find the “line” between sensations of self and other but becoming confused, feeling into the spaciousness surrounding me and bringing it somehow into the center, noticing what was then not there that is usually “me” (whereupon all that me stuff returned!), and feeling frustrated that I was meditating “poorly” today simply because, um, these experiences were so obviously discontinuous. 

Less Noticeably Separate

Then I realized, “Well, of course they are discontinuous.” So I just sat. One difference I noticed from all the earlier months was that the two-track mind that I’ve many times referred to seemed less stratified into two. There was that abiding calm, but there were the rapid changes, yet they felt less strikingly separate, less noticeably separate, anyway.

This being so, you should sustain presence of mind in stillness when calm, in thinking when thoughts occur, and in perceiving when perceptions take place. Do not deliberately try to think when still or prevent a thought when it occurs. No matter what your state may be—lucidly clear, totally empty, suffused with bliss, or completely restless—simply remain undistracted. You do not need to modify or correct anything. Therefore, undistractedly maintain the natural state of your mind with a naturally aware presence, no matter how it is or what is perceived or felt. That is simply called “meditating.” Other than that, there isn’t even as much as a hair-tip to adjust mentally by meditating.

Interesting to me from the perspective that I was somehow suffering from the notion today that I was not “properly” meditating because my mind was “all over the place.” Was I meditating? Or was I distracted? What exactly is distraction from the natural state? Not an easy question to answer. Can we be “with” a distraction and therefore it is not a distraction? From what are we distracted? From this natural essential state that is not any of those? Simple yet difficult.

The Three Percent of the Solution

So when my nonteacher Daniel gave me the detailed noninstructional mere suggestion to sit with only 3% effort, I think that 3% was provided merely to allow even effort to be “natural.” 

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