When Nothing Moves

My root teacher in the Buddhist tradition frequently said, “When you notice the mind naturally settling, just continue in that.” This was his distilled guidance concerning meditative practice. He seemed to embody this, remaining in his uncontrived essence from moment to moment. If something called for his attention, he was there. But otherwise he rested in a kind of childlike spaciousness, often chuckling about who knows what.

I aspire to inhabit this spaciousness. I think I have the childlike part down—well maybe somewhat childish. My partner in life and I frequently dance in the kitchen and make up silly songs about whatever is happening. We share a sense of childlike joy in simple things where all the insanity of the world dissolves in laughter. We all could use a bit more laughter.

A laugh does not leave space for harsher emotions. It is as if nothing moves for a moment—other than the gyrations caused by the act of laughing. Inside that movement is the stillness I think my teacher was talking about. As the laugh diminishes, I become more proudly aware of the stillness. Nothing moves but breath and awareness. I cannot contrive to sustain this experience but I can choose to abide in the space of a more settled mind.

When nothing moves, nothing infects our attention with grasping and attachment. The ego really has nothing to do here. So we usually opt to let the ego create some habitual noise. But it does not have to be that way. It is more natural to let the mind remain settled like a stream settles between two banks. There is flow but stability, movement and stillness. 

A very famous essential practice of movement and stillness is describe like this: 

“Within the stillness break the continuity of the stream of movement (of thought). Look upon the self nature of stillness from within the state of movement. Maintain ordinary mind, the non-duality of stillness and movement. Recite the six syllables (ON MANI PADME HUNG) one pointedly experiencing this state.”

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