The Whole Enchilada – Dialectic Two Step
Estimated reading time: 13 minute(s)
Om Ah Amitabha Hung
As part of the opening ceremony at my meditation group I recite a light mantra. It’s adapted from the Shingon tradition and refocused onto Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of the Pure Land tradition. The mantra ends with the line quoted above. Om Ah Amitabha Hung is the whole enchilada. It can be interpreted to mean:
In body, speech, and mind, I am Amitabha Buddha
Most weeks, one or two newcomers will arrive at our Monday evening meditation group. I welcome them and ask a few questions, the first of which is, “What brings you here?”
The answers help me introduce them to the practice of meditation. Recently, I’ve gotten an interesting answer. “My therapist recommended I try meditation”
Having been in therapy myself, I have an appreciation for their situation and a certain interest in trying to give them something to walk away with.
On one of those weeks, I was sitting on my cushion waiting for everyone to arrive and idly reading over our prayer sheet. The light mantra appears at the head of the sheet. My eyes settled on the final line quoted above. I knew immediately how to begin.Feelings are often amplified by the relentlessness way in which the mind can perseverate on them. Click To Tweet
Many of us come to our weekly meditation group to find some peace. We struggle through our days with stress, anxiety, and strong emotions. We may feel a longing, or we might struggle with a sense of disappointment with out lives. This can lead us to anger, anxiety, and sadness. These feelings are often amplified by the relentlessness way in which the mind can perseverate on them . We float on a stormy sea of thoughts, one after another. Each thought a new battle in a war that lasts a lifetime.
Are You Game?
How do we stand in the face of such a challenge?
One way is to put some clear boundaries on the problem and the solution. I think one of the reasons we become so overwhelmed, is that all we see is a steady stream of life coming at us and we are not sure how we’re going to deal with the next thing or some bigger problem that could pop up in the future. If we had a clear set of rules for playing the game, then it would collapse the problem down to size quite nicely. Of course, it’s not that simple, but if we could move in that direction, things might improve.
Here’s how Om Ah Amitabha Hung might help. Consider a three step process for finding peace that could work most of the time. Let’s try it first as a meditation.
- The Body – let your eyelids relax down partially over your eyes and with that movement allow the eyes to rest in their sockets, let the roof of your mouth soften, and relax the forehead, temples, and jaw. Let your awareness come fully into your body. Step by step let it move down to your throat, your shoulder blades and arms, heart, solar plexus, abdomen, lower back, hips, thighs, the back of your knees, shins, ankles, your feet all the way to where they touch the ground. Do this gradually taking a few breaths to stop at each point. Allow the breath and the awareness to relax each part of the body. Notice how you feel and how different it is from when you started.
- The Mind – our thoughts and senses are centered in our heads. We are constantly processing the steady stream of ideas the flow like clouds across the sky of our minds. First, relax the mind by letting the thoughts flow without intervention or action on your part. I call the nonjudgemental awareness. For the time being, just be an observer. let the observer sink into the body, flowing down the body, just as we did before, but let it settle in your lower abdomen. Notice how you feel and how different it is from when you started.
- Speech – A quick observation on the term speech. For our purposes we can treat this to mean our actions. As you’ve transitioned to a state of deeper relaxation and non judgemental awareness, you are prone to a new type of reaction to the world around you. Often times, in this state, we are much less likely to respond from a place of anger, anxiety, or disappointment. We may even be ready to respond from a place of love, joy, compassion, and equanimity? Imagine that.
Playing the Game
So what did we learn here? Do we need to stop and meditate every time we are in a stressful situation? No, not really. But we can approach the challenges of life with this understanding: Regardless of the situation, our response to it will be in the context of our bodies and minds. If we are able to come from a place of an open mind and open body, we will be much more capable of handling the firehose of life. All that we are is body, speech, and mind. If we can know how to apply these three things, we have everything we need to deal with life.Body, speech, and mind are the Whole Enchilada. Click To Tweet
Body, speech, and mind are the Whole Enchilada.
In body, speech, and mind I am Buddha Amitabha.
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Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two. - Octavio
Dialectic Two Step, Modern Koans, Verse Us, Say What?, and Minute Meditations all copyright Andrew Furst