For the last week Tulku Sheldor of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition has been giving powerful teachings at the Yoga Retreat. Yesterday he asked the question, ‘what is distraction in meditation?’ The first thing that came to my mind is something to avoid, a sign that I am not meditating properly. And yet, when that thought that I call distracted appears where does it arise from? Where does it go to? Has my innate nature been diminished or modified because of that distracted thought? My attention has changed from an object to another but the source of that attention has remained untouched.
Pointing to the source of our awareness is what teachers in their compassion keep bringing to our attention. Distraction is forgetting that all thoughts, words and actions arise from that source or ground of being. Some of us suffer from deep amnesia and live in a state of confusion, of false identification. And so when I forget that innate awareness I fool myself and take a false identity.
Every time I lose myself in anger, greed or fear, I fool myself. Every time I become attached to goodness and happiness, I fool myself. Every time I discriminate between good and bad, I fool myself. And every time I close my heart, I fool myself. How to stop this foolishness and constant forgetfulness? It is like taking reality for an ongoing dream or the shadows for the real thing.
Fortunately, there are wise and kind teachers that keep reminding us to remember and acknowledge our birthright and encourage us to take our seat on the throne as wise kings or queens that cannot be fooled by their subjects.
The meditation technique that Tulku Sheldor introduced is an open unfocused eye meditation where ears, heart and the entire being is receptive, relaxed and awake. Not rejecting anything, not hanging on to anything. This technique, once mastered, allows us to remain in that meditative state even in the middle of activity but even more important to open the door to unimagined possibilities.