Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Where does clarity go?

Clarity is a natural characteristic of our mind.  In its natural condition it is like a mirror in which we can see perfectly without distortion.  Clarity is by its very nature vivid and unobscured.  It has a transparent quality, allowing us to see connections and draw out implications. 

When we meditate, we are trying to cultivate a calm and clear mind.  Many people are drawn to a calm mind, because it is peaceful and provides a respite from the normal turmoil and stress of our day.  When we calm the mind in meditation we discover its natural clarity, just as when clouds disperse the clear and open sky is revealed to be naturally present. 

So where does clarity go?

We lose clarity in two ways.  Dullness and agitation.

The first is dullness.  We sink into darkness, laziness and the murkiness of ignorance.  Clarity becomes shrouded in narrow views and biased perception.  We experience this loss of clarity as a sinking dullness and sleepiness.  It is something to be abandoned. 

The other way we lose clarity is in agitation.  When clarity becomes too intense it leads to restlessness and agitation.  We can experience this as a proliferation of thoughts or dialogue in our heads.  We may also experience this as physical and emotional agitation, such that we want to turn away from the intensity, get up, get away. 

That subtle level of aversion is the basis of anger. 

When the situation gets too intense we often don't know how to sit with it.  We have lost that transparent quality of clarity and now things seem real.  Very real.  We start to struggle.  We push back.  We react.  We want to know the answer, but often we don't have time to think.  We can't see the answer and sometimes even if we can it is too risky.  Better to be safe, better to run and hide. 

What other option do we have?

Train your mind.  Learn to work with clarity.  As we become more aware of the transparent aspect of our own mind we won't fixate so heavily on our experience.  We will cultivate a little wiggle room, a little room to keep working.  At first it might not be much, but it might be just enough.  Enough to make a difference. 


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