by Greg Goode in https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheDirectPathGroup

(The Direct Path Group is for discussions related to Greg Goode and Sri Atmananda's teachings related to Advaita Vedanta)

= How silent meditation helped me with nondual inquiry =
This is about how silent meditation helped me with nondual inquiry. Silent meditation is different from inquiry, and helps prepare one for doing inquiry. It helps in several ways, which I’ll say more about below.
There are various forms of silent meditation and various paths of inquiry. For example, Shamatha is recommended if one wants to realize emptiness via analytic meditation.
Personally, I found Zazen helpful for nondual inquiry. How can it help? It stabilizes the mind so that the mind doesn’t get off track or fall asleep during the inquiry.
Here is a very rough and schematic quasi-Vedantic account of how this works. It’s not a DP account, but something that we were taught in the Chinmaya Mission. Vedanta looks at the body/mind apparatus as composed of various layers or sheaths of active energy. At the grossest is the body. At a more subtle layer is the “emotional body,” then the mind as controller of its activities. And more subtle still is the intellect, the process of ratiocination, making connections and insight.
All activities engage all of the levels, but some activities have their center of gravity more on one level than another. According to the present scheme, Nondual inquiry begins largely at the energetic level of the intellect. But the insights permeate all levels. And nondual insights deconstruct the levels altogether.
In order that the intellect do its appointed job well, it needs to be somewhat calm. It cannot be jumpy or inclined to nod off into sleep.
For the intellect to be calm, the less subtle levels need to be somewhat calm as well. This is familiar - if there is emotional turbulence, it is hard to think.
There are activities that address each of the levels. Such as karma yoga or recreational dancing or athletics for the physical level. Bhakti yoga or art or singing or performing music for the emotional level. Raja yoga or study or concentrated meditation for the level of controlling the mind. And jnana yoga or mathematics or other kinds of coursing stuff out for the intellectual level.
The calmer the levels that are less subtle than the intellect, the calmer the intellect will be able to be.
This is where zazen helped me. It came in at the level of the control-of-the-mind level and smoothed things out wonderfully. Plus it gives a taste of silence. For me, it helped the mind stay with the subtleties of jnana yoga without a a rage of chattering thoughts, and without getting drowsy and falling asleep.
Zazen is taught at Zen centers. Phenomenally (not doctrinally) it is a process of keeping the mind extremely steady on a subtle object like counting or the breath. There are two things that could depart from that: a chatty mind or a sleepy one. Whenever you notice that either has happened, you simply go back to counting or following the breath.
Besides calmness and stability and subtlety, I noticed physically healthy things, like better digestion, more energy on the lower body and more closely focused in everything where needed.
One can do zazen earlier in the day, and then nondual inquiry later in the day. And nondual inquiry will be supercharged. Of course there are other preparatory activities that will help. This was just my experiences with zazen!

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Hi Andrej, Here are some examples of which inquiries were helped by Zazen.... I did years of inquiries, mostly before I did Zazen. The main inquiry I did with the aid of Zazen was later and extremely subtle: I was looking into why Truth and Reality were widely held to be nondual whereas I experienced a very slight, benevolent duality between witnessing awareness and the arisings that seemed to arise from/to it. There was no suffering (I was at the so-called "transparent witness" gestalt). But even so, I was drawn to this issue for over a year. I happened to be doing Zazen at the time - I only realized later that it helped, and how it helped. How did Zazen help? I was already pretty good at focusing and keeping my attention on an object. My father had this too. He brought it his work home and did it at the large dinner table while the TV was on a few feet away and we kids were running around. It didn't bug him a bit! He taught this focus to us. We were a family of introverted artists, so it was easy. All my school, military and corporate experience helped with focus as well. But this topic (subject/object distinction) was very slippery. In a word, Zazen helped make the mind more open and subtle. It quieted the mind so that it was more open to subtle insight coming from unexpected angles, as opposed to the usual ones. And it helped the mind recognize patterns and formulations of a vaguer and more subtle type. Here's a physicalist-type example. Imagine putting a long hair in a phone book and then cover it with one page. Then shut your eyes and try to trace the hair with your fingertips

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Kyle Dixon: 

Sitting has been invaluable for me in my life, with positive, long lasting effects. I really cannot recommend it enough. Also the more I sat, and the more stable my meditation became, the brighter my mind became, like increasing the brightness on a lamp. Energetically things became very coordinated, like Greg mentioned, and what I would call instances of transcendent insight would erupt spontaneously. Which were like precursors to larger events of the same species. Meditation if done right is just a fantastic supplement to any spiritual endeavor. It breathes life into the process and makes everything easier and more enjoyable.
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