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Don’t Look Forward Look Back

In this post I describe a technique that is extremely powerful and which when put in to practise fulfils many if not all of the criteria that Zen would consider most beneficial to a persons development. It has the power to bring the mind or “mad
monkey” under control whilst simultaneously “setting the attention on nothing”. It gives a person the power to observe the world in absolute stillness and solidity, to develop a “diamond” like mind whilst remaining fully cognisant  and in a state of brilliant awareness. Practised for a sufficient amount of time this technique will ultimately allow a person to transcend the intellect and dissolve the duality of “self” and “other”. It allows a person to come in to direct perception of their own being, to experience their “self nature” through direct identity.

The technique or meditation consists of reversing the attention from it’s natural outgoing state to one that is entirely artificial but highly beneficial. The attention of the average person is outward going in nature, being directed toward the “external” world from what they perceive as an “internal” consciousness. They are beguiled by the world and react in a somewhat puppet like fashion to external events. They are reactive beings dancing to the tune of concern. It is this reactive quality that constitutes the “mad monkey” and which must be overcome. A person must transform themselves from a reactive being to a non-reactive being and in doing so gain control over themselves. In this battle, concern and an intellect that is not “locked down” are their biggest enemies. These two things constitute a fatal instability that renders them playthings of their own nature. They have as Zen says a “leaking mind”.

The mind “leaks” because the direction of thought coincides with the direction of the attention and consequently thought flows freely in an outwards direction. In this state of being, thought could be considered as being like an object floating down river; it flows freely and without restraint, it bobs up and down and is somewhat enthusiastic in it’s progress. It is uncontrolled and enamoured of itself precisely because it flows with the stream. Not only is it uncontrolled, but it is also unaware of the lack of control because this is it’s “natural” state. The lack of control only becomes apparent when we try to stop thought in it’s tracks and then we perceive great difficulty in gaining any stability and a tendency for the mind to constantly “leak” despite our best efforts. This “leaking” is produced by an egotistical pressure that builds in direct proportion to the amount of control exerted. With no control thought flows freely and no pressure is experienced. The mind leaks but it is not perceived as leaking. With a high level of control thoughts may be somewhat suppressed but a feeling of great pressure is produced and we become aware of the leaking process. We perceive the “mad monkey’s” attempts to break free. This is analogous to damming up the river; the flow is interrupted and pressure builds.

We can see from all of this that a reversal of the attentions natural outgoing direction would be analogous to damming up the river. Since thought flows in the direction of the attention, reversing the direction of the attention would inhibit thought, allowing a person to “lock down” their mind. In such a state, the person gains solidity of mind, their attention is effectively “set on nothing” because it no longer clings to thoughts as objects and the person can passively observe the world whilst remaining fully cognisant. Their “intelligence” is in no way affected by this process because overt intellectual thoughts are nothing but afterthoughts. The real thinking takes place in the intuition and remains fully functional. A person can therefore do any of their normal tasks whilst maintaining a state of absolute solidity. They can walk, talk, sit, observe, read, write, do mathematics all while maintaining absolute stability. Indeed if they are able to put this technique in to practise to a very high degree of accomplishment they will find that they can carry out tasks such as reading with extreme speed due to being unencumbered by a plodding overt intellect.  The “real” mind perceives instantly whereas the overt intellect processes information. It is a categoriser with a severe blind spot.

The following technique or meditation will allow you to overcome this leaking process and to develop a high degree of stability. Ultimately you will be able to develop a “diamond” like mind that remains utterly still under all circumstances. You will feel liberated as if freed from the clutches of a neurotic demon. You will feel free and at rest, in direct communication with your real self which is in reality no-self.

The meditation:

Set your attention on the back of your skull or in a general rearward  direction thus reversing the natural direction of the outgoing attention.

Keep it there under all circumstances.

If you feel a deep discomfort and pressure building try to dissolve the pressure by inducing humility at the place where the onerous feelings arise.

Initially you may find this very difficult to maintain. It will require effort and attention. Try not to let the attention wander from it’s new direction. When you carry out a specific task, first reverse your attention and then carry out the task. You will find that you can indeed do things whilst maintaining this reversed attention but it may be somewhat painful at first. When you become more accomplished at maintaining this state you may develop a “pulling back” sensation in your psyche. If so, nurture it, this is precisely what you are aiming for. If you can get to the “pulling back” stage and maintain it you are home and dry. You will rapidly develop a mind of great solidity. If the process feels onerous, don’t worry it is your ego protesting; it doesn’t like being held under constraint and a pressure will build. Try to dissolve the feeling with humility. If you’re engaged in sitting meditation, induce humility with every outbreath. The point of this meditation is to lock the overt thinking process  and the ego down permanently and thus to cause them to wither and die. Your intuitive thinking will remain fully active and cognisant.

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