Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vipassana Retreat, Installment 12

WEDNESDAY, JULY 8, 2009, 7:45 PM


            Shinzen handed out a flier detailing his theory of TOTAL HAPPINESS.  The theory has 4 quadrants; 2 quadrants  “For Yourself”, and 2 quadrants “For Others”. These 2 quadrants are divided into “Conditional” and “Unconditional”. “Conditional Happiness For Yourself” is basically when you get what you want, when you want it, avoiding confusion. “Unconditional Happiness For Yourself” is getting fulfillment, avoiding suffering, knowing your spiritual essence, manifesting your best behavior and performance. “Conditional Happiness For Others” is helping them get what they want when they want it, avoiding confusion, etc. “Unconditional Happiness For Others” is teaching the path on the subtle level (people notice your improved behavior and vibe and, hopefully be uplifted by it), at the descriptive level (you can clearly describe your practice when asked), at the explicit level (become an official teacher of the practice), and becoming a World Master (like Buddha or Jesus Christ). One works toward attaining these happiness quadrants by developing the core skills of
1)    Power of Concentration
2)    Sensory Clarity
3)    Sensory Equanimity

Shinzen gets asked the same question all the time, which is: If one achieves SENSORY EQUANIMITY, won’t one become passive, victimized, ineffectual and vulnerable to external events? Shinzen assured us that this was not the case.  He contrasted the bodhisattva, who, after achieving enlightenment, hangs around until all sentient beings have become enlightened, and (the word for it escapes me) the other kind of enlightened being who takes the opportunity to get off the wheel of karma. The idea is to stay engaged with the world.
POWER OF CONCENTRATION is the ability to attend to whatever you want for as long as you want.
These 3 skills impact all the dimensions of human happiness.
Shinzen did a sales pitch for Thursay’s Yaza, (all-night sit). Each retreat has a Yaza; Shinzen recommended it highly, averring that sleep deprivation can lower one’s defenses greatly, helping one break through to greater depths of one’s practice. He continued that there would be a tea break about half way through the night with a really excellent spread, including saki and pure Japanese powdered green tea.
I found the idea of doing the Yaza both attractive and frightening. We’ll see.

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