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Blooming of a Lotus

Thich Nhat Hanh — Buddhist monk, writer, teacher, peace activist — is also rather a mystic. His little 1993 book The Blooming of a Lotus: Guided Meditation Exercises for Healing and Transformation definitely goes into dimensions that aren't grounded in (what I think of as) reality. But there are lovely poetic passages, and the 34 exercises and commentaries include some which might be quite useful, as speedwork and hillwork sometimes are for runners. For starters, in the introduction there's the cute footnote-metaphor of how to think about ringing a bell for meditation:

We never say "strike" the bell, because for us the bell is a friend who can wake us up to full understanding. We say "invite" the bell, meaning invite the bell to sound.

And a few pages later, concerning what to do when meditating:

"You only need to sit" is an exhortation of Tao Dong (Soto) meditation. It means that you should sit without waiting for a miracle—and that includes the miracle of enlightenment. If you sit always in expectation you cannot be in contact with or enjoy the present moment, which always contains the whole of life. Sit in this context means to sit in an awakened way, in a relaxed way, with your mind awake, calm, and clear. Only this can be called sitting, and it takes training and practice.

And for one more example, in Exercise 16 there's the brilliant thought of noticing and being thankful for what's absent:

A neutral feeling is neither pleasant nor painful. But when such feelings are recognized in mindfulness, they usually become pleasant feelings. This is one of the benefits of insight meditation. When you have a toothache the feeling is very unpleasant, and when you do not have a toothache you usually have a neutral feeling. However, if you can be mindful of the nontoothache, the nontoothache will become a feeling of peace and joy. Mindfulness gives rise to and nourishes happiness.

Hmmmm ... and at every moment there are so many unpleasant feelings to be mindful of that aren't present! Nonstop-nirvana?

(cf. Eat the Orange (2004-11-28), Laundromat Surprises (2009-03-02), Breath as Vehicle (2009-06-17), ...) - ^z - 2013-11-17