Last summer I wrote about a retreat I attended with Anam Thubten. http://wp.me/pYql4-Wp . Another time I posted about his first book, No Self, No Problem. http://wp.me/pYql4-gg. Just over a week ago, I join a large group to attend another retreat with this Tibetan master. The event coincided with the publication of his new book, The Magic of Awareness.
At first I was not going to write about the day because, in Anam Thubten’s own words, “I don’t have so much to say today.” After a pause, he added, “I think you already know these things.” A lot “happened,” that day, but not the sort of things you can write about.
I thought of the Buddha’s flower sermon. One day when a group of monks assembled to hear Sakyamuni Buddha, he simply held up a white flower someone had given him as he climbed onto the teaching dais. One monk, Mahākāśyapa, smiled in understanding, and we date the practice of Zen from that moment. A lot happened that day too – we remember it 2600 years later – but there is also not much to write about. What are you going to “say” about holding up a flower?
That’s sort of the point. And the point of this post.
For some reason, I was wide awake at 5:00am this morning. I got up, made coffee, and dug into the Sunday paper – for some other unfathomable reason, I was really looking forward to catching up on all the news (what are they putting in the water these days?). It only took one article on the presidential campaign to cure that delusion and cause me to trash a political post I almost had ready for Monday. No way I wanted to add my $0.02 to the chatter. There in the pre-dawn quiet, I thought again of Anam Thubten, the wisdom of silence, and the Buddha’s flower.
At the retreat, Anam Thubten gave few instructions on meditation beyond this: “The essence of meditation is doing nothing.” He elaborates in his first book:
“to rest means to pause, to pause from working very hard, to pause from continuously constructing this world of illusions, the dualistic world, the world that is based on the separation between self and other, you and me, good and bad. When you completely take away the egoic mind, the creator of this illusory world, then realization is already there and truth is automatically realized. Therefore, the heart of Buddhist meditation practice is to relax and to rest.”
When you think about it, those are really quite enough words for a lifetime…