seeds and stations

I am going to post something else from Thanissaro Bhikkhu. It is from the same book that I quoted before. Again, you can find it here. I wanted to mention it again because I think that it speaks to the metaphor from Gil Fronsdal that I expanded in a previous post.
"The Buddha uses a different analogy. Of course in those days they didn’t have radio stations, so his analogy is planting a seed in a field. The field here is your kamma. The fact that you’ve got a body sitting here right now, that’s a result of past kamma. The seed is your consciousness, your awareness. And for any seed to grow, of course, you’ve got to plant it in one place. You don’t move it around. Planting it here today, then digging it up tomorrow, moving it someplace else, you’ll never get the plant you want. So you stay in one place. And then once the seed is in place, you water it. You water it with delight."

The reason why Thanissaro Bhikkhu mentions that the Buddha is using a different analogy is because the Bhikkhu's analogy was about tuning a radio into a particular frequency. And once you get that frequency, you stay there. In this way, one "tunes in" to the breath during meditation and doing so is a good way to start moving down the path. He speaks earlier about how one of the great paradoxes of the Buddha's way is that we are trying to cultivate a path of becoming that leads to the cessation of becoming.

Like I mentioned above, I thought that it worked really nice with the metaphor of watering seeds of intention. I am also reminded of something that a Zen practitioner once told me. I was asking about the many different traditions in Buddhism and about some of the confusion that is often associated with the choice of being a part of either one or the other tradition. What he told me was that, if you want to find water, you dig one well really deep until you hit the groundwater. You should not go around digging several small holes. You will not find water that way. I thought that this was a good metaphor at the time. I think that it still fits and is apt. To move around from so many different traditions is to dig so many only small holes. However, I also liked to consider that some people may not really want a well for water. Maybe, they just want to see what digging a bunch of shallow holes in the ground might turn up. A few gems maybe? Or something that was lost and is now found perhaps? This is the way that some people approach the path. So, the metaphor is good for thinking about just what one is doing. It is also useful for figuring out what kind of commitment is needed for real engagement with the path.

The most interesting aspect of this that struck me about this way of thinking was this level of commitment that is required, particularly in Thanissaro Bhikkhu's metaphor. A seed is small thing. It is important not to move it around in order for it to grow properly into a sapling or garden, but it is also important to remember that it is a small thing, it is a very specific thing. It is important to notice what is the seed and what is not the seed. It's the same with a radio station. In order to truly tune-in to it, you have to listen to see what is the station and what is static. The breath also is a small thing. And it is necessary to stay tuned in to it for insight to grow, but that starts with recognizing what is the breath and what is not the breath. No matter what different shows come on to the radio station, you just keep listening and observing the rise and fall of these different states. Just as you don't get involved with either positive or negative states, you don't change the station to go onto something else. You don't dig up your seed and move it to another place.

I used to think that digging so many small holes instead of a well was alright as long as you continue digging in the ground. In other words, you don't move around and start allowing your delusion to move your investigation to the sky. You will find nothing digging in the sky (probably). I hope that you can see what I am trying to get at here.

I think that it is important to recognize what else is going on that you might be focusing on. Maybe that's not the breath. Maybe you should let that go, too.

love always,

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