Dancing with Life (DWL) (pp. 168-187)
The Second Insight: The Cessation of Suffering is to be Directly Experienced
“Vision arose, insight arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before: ‘This noble truth of the cessation of stress is to be directly experienced’…”
Directly Experiencing the Cessation of Suffering
As Moffitt notes, noticing cessation of suffering calls for a more subtle level of mindfulness. It will take time and practice, particularly deepening your concentration and investigating what arises, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. This means facing what you may be perceive as loss and also being far less defined by your ego.
Investigating cessation requires that you be comfortable with uncertainty. As noted in the previous talk, life is your teacher and can provide many experiences of uncertainty. As Ajahn Chah stated, “We look at the present and see continuous arising and ceasing. When the mind starts to realize that all things without exception are by their very nature uncertain, the problems of grasping and attachment start to decrease and wither away. I keep saying this but people do not take it to heart……People say, “Ajahn Chah only talks about ‘not certain.’” They fed up with hearing this, and they run away from me…. I guess they’re going to look for some place where things will be certain. But they’ll come back.” (from Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away Chapter 13 p. 37-42).
Moffitt notes four life practices that will help you practice moment to moment awareness of cessation (mindfulness of cessation).
Non-task: The first practice can be performed when your mind is not engaged in a specific task. Train the mind to rest in awareness of breath and body sensations. Eventually this will create a new ‘set point” for your attention. You will constantly notice that your breath and sensations arise and cease. This is the direct experience of cessation.
Task: The second practice can be performed when engaged in a specific task (or thought). Note the arising and ceasing of pleasant and unpleasant feelings related to that task. Become aware of how these feelings affect your mind and body. Become of aware of their cessation. From this practice, you are getting in touch with your reactivity and seeing how easily it can arise from your feelings.
Others: The third practice is to notice that similar feelings and reactivity also occur in others. You can develop compassion for them as they struggle with the reactivity instead of reacting to their reactivity.
Moment to Moment: The fourth practice is to notice if there is any attachment in the moment to moment awareness. Observe what happens to it when you pay attention. In time you may be able to cease clinging just by bring your attention to it.
Achieving Cessation Through Reflection and Meditation Practice
Cessation can be experienced only through practice both on and off of the cushion. In everyday life, using the practices noted above, you can change your perception and orientation
In the next talk, we will explore disenchantment that can occur with practice.
- Reread this talk and reflect on it. Incorporate the practices into your everyday life. What do you experience?
- Meditate as usual in your daily practice using concentration, insight and metta (loving kindness) meditations as appropriate. Pay particular attention to any attachment and apply the non-task practice. What happens?