Testing Your Awareness
Developing the Spiritual Mind
Undoubtedly, you have repeatedly heard that for enlightenment, one of the keys is keeping your awareness in the here and now, keeping it in the present. This can be stated in many ways, such as observe your mind, body and feelings, or maintain your witnessing consciousness, or remain mindful, or practice choiceless awareness, or develop your spiritual mind, etc, etc. For those who don’t just care to read, but are interested in discovering for themselves the Truth, know that maintaining such awareness from moment to moment is easier said than done. Thankfully though, there are lots of nice tips and techniques for helping us live with such awareness and in today’s article I would like to share with you one such a technique.
The goal here is to develop the mind which is highly intelligent, the mind which sees the false in the false, or simply put simply the mind with can perceive the Truth of Non-Duality. Ordinarily, our mind is constantly jumping from one thought to another, and wandering all over the place, thus preventing us from maintaining moment to moment awareness. Being able to maintain this awareness, is a very important aspect of developing the spiritual mind. So what can we do to help us stop this monkey mind, the mind that is jumping around?
Keep a good posture. Yes such a simple thing, but I assure you it will prove to be very helpful. No matter what you are doing, keep a nice posture while doing it. Take this up as an awareness test and try to maintain your posture for the entire week ahead. You will then learn for yourself, how helpful and valuable this simple tip is. To inspire you in taking this test and rising to the challenge, let me give you Zen Master Shunryu’s Suzuki’s own thoughts on the importance of posture.
Shunryu Suzuki on Posture, Awareness & Spiritual Mind:
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Right Practice
The most important point is to own your own physical body. If you slump, you will lose your self. Your mind will be wandering about somewhere else; you will not be in your body. This is not the way. We must exist right here, right now! This is the key point. You must have your own body and mind. Everything should exist in the right place, in the right way. Then there is no problem. If the microphone I use when I speak exists somewhere else, it will not serve its purpose. When we have our body and mind in order, everything else will exist in the right place, in the right way.
But usually, without being aware of it, we try to change something other than ourselves, we try to order things outside us. But it is impossible to organize things if you yourself are not in order. When you do things in the right way, at the right time, everything else will be organized. You are the "boss". When the boss is sleeping, everyone is sleeping. When the boss does something right, everyone will do everything right, and at the right time. That is the secret of Buddhism.
So try always to keep the right posture, not only when you practice zazen (Zen Meditation Technique), but in all your activities. Take the right posture when you are driving your car, and when you are reading. If you read in a slumped position, you cannot stay awake long. Try. You will discover how important it is to keep the right posture. This is the true teaching. The teaching which is written on paper is not the true teaching. Written teaching is a kind of food for the brain. Of course it is necessary to take some food for the brain, but it is more important to be yourself by practicing the right way of life.
The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself enlightenment. If you cannot be satisfied with the state of mind you have in zazen it means your mind is still wandering about. Our body and mind should no be wobbling or wandering about. In this posture there is no need to talk about the right state of mind. You already have it. This is the conclusion of Buddhism.
So your test this week, and hopefully one that you will take up for the rest of your life, is to be mindful of your posture no matter what it is you are doing. Like Master Suzuki said, whether you are eating, reading, meditating, walking, taking, sitting, driving, don’t allow yourself to slump. Keep your posture tall, keep your spine straight, your abdomen free and see the immediate affect this has on your state of awareness. You will notice the flame of moment to moment awareness burning much more brightly and this state of being in the here and now, is in fact the Spiritual Mind.
By making this simple adjustment, not only will you find your being more mindful, you will also be surprised by a bevy of other important benefits that it will bestow. You will find yourself breathing better, eating and digesting your food better, feeling more confident and courageous, having more willpower, feeling more composed and of course, feeling much more aware and alive.
Be on the lookout for more spiritual tests and tips in the near future to help you increase your awareness and develop your spiritual mind. In the article series section below, you will find other tests to help you with your awareness and spiritual growth.