How Are You by Gil Fronsdal  This teaching is given freely courtesy of Audio DharmaAudio Dharma ; IMC ; Gil Fronsdal

United States


00:00:00the following talk was given at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City California. Org
00:00:10so good evening everyone can you hear me okay maybe a little bit low
00:00:16little bit low and I can't turn it up a little bit but see that's it's a better can't wait thank you
00:00:40so one of the Tiffany little
00:00:45teachings that comes from a Indian capacity training magnet when Endura
00:00:51his teaching was if it's not simple it's not a personal if it's not simple it's not the practice of mindfulness
00:01:01and I think he felt the need to say that because people would get very complicated very quickly and trying to meditate trying to do things and accomplish things and get rid of things and and
00:01:15and it's not easy thing to do because
00:01:23we can give a lot of instruction and our tradition I'm just amazed how much destruction can be giving
00:01:32and it's kind of a wonderful thing because they're so he's wonderful teachers who spends 20 30 40 years more some of them exploring their minds exploring the practice in all kinds of different situations of their lives and from that comes a big repertoire of how to be mindful I'm a different situations and so they have all these approaches and techniques things to do
00:01:59and now I'm poor students have to listen to that and and and so is easy to get some idea if he's all the stuff to do and if you come and take my introduction to meditation class and I can 5 weeks of instructions so a lot of instructions and anybody that fourth week some people thing or what what do I supposed to do now in this situation and they wonder and all that so I can start seeing my kind of complicated
00:02:27hand numb
00:02:30but if it's not simple it's not my furnace not simple as not be personal
00:02:36I wanted to offer you at the risk of more instruction
00:02:41I wanted to offer you some way of understanding this practice officially officially meditation and how it applies to the life you have to have some rest of it I understand that but start with meditation meditation is a wonderful laboratory so wonderful domain or area of our life where the rules of behavior are different than everyday life because of meditation of one thing you sit down and close your eyes to meditate you don't have to cook your dinner go shopping you don't have to solve your taxes you don't have to solve your life problems of the world's problems
00:03:18that you don't have to you know you're basically a safe person because you're committed for the duration of meditation not to move and so it's okay to have murderous rage and where and we're in your life and yet that's okay that murderous rage usually Society supposed to keep it kind of you know
00:03:40like to say that you don't go around demonstrating your murderous rage then but then meditation you can have tremendous upsurges of all kinds of emotions anger grief grief sadness
00:03:57all kinds of things in common and such a different kind of the rules apply it's like you can allow things to happen in meditation that maybe it's not okay to allowed to happen at work for example and you know you don't want to let your boss know you have murderous rage you know that's not a place to go to allow it to know so so so such a kind of special place and I like to think of it it's kind of like being a jerk into being at home I end up some people have a sense of being at home is a place where you can you know if you're home alone at your house you can go walk around in your pajamas in your underwear and you can just kind of you know you can just be yourself without having to worry about him being something for somebody that's their rules of society don't quite apply when you're at your own house home alone you can I know unwind just
00:04:47kick back and just feel at home it just being yourself you don't approve yourself or anything so I'm going to take is a place to be home like that to be at home with yourself
00:04:57so one of the ways to in this theory of meditation and one of their approaches that can make it simple and I think very interesting and also a wonderful protection for some of the challenges can happen meditation is to have meditation primarily to be about how you are how are you I'm fine thank you how are you not about what you're trying to do that what you're trying to accomplish that what you're trying to be but just thought I'd check in and how are you and notice how are you
00:05:33because office in our life and the human life is pretty common for many people to be about something to be trying to accomplish something you go to work you have some lobby as when you're doing until you focus on doing the activity and activity maybe sometimes supposed to do do us good make us feel good and so we feel we know the how is we feel good because of doing it or that I owe her for doing so I protect us from feeling bad
00:06:00but the focus can be on what we're doing we're accomplishing her what we're being Who We Are
00:06:06and they say she's not about who you are it's not about what you're doing but it's more about how you are and so put aside when you sit down to meditate any attempt to try to do something
00:06:20I'd rather use meditation as a time to check in how are you
00:06:25how are you with what you're doing so how are you doing so you sit down and you find out some people when they sit down to meditate it's the first time that they take the time to check in with themselves and they are surprised to discover what's their the emotions their the feelings they are the attitudes that are they are the beliefs they're upgrading because of a running on being busy and don't stop we don't really catch up and see what's going on so how are we so I can be any you any other way until we notice how we are and then that's fine so you noticed that you were going to maybe it's an unfortunate example I got stuck in here and you how you are is your
00:07:04you're Rachel lots of ranch
00:07:07so that's what you notice and then you can ask you in awhile how are you how are you with having Rach I don't like it I wish it was different I feel Justified how how are you how are you relating to that rage I want to hide it I want to avoid it if I get rid of it how is it that I'm using it rage as a mirror to a i define myself I'm a bad person because I have this rage I shouldn't I shouldn't be able you know
00:07:40so you have to bring up simple we have the rage and then how are we with the rage gets complicated attitude towards it so we noticed that
00:07:49and so what do we do
00:07:53well then we try to get rid of the Rage that's a doing that's not a howling annotations more about humming
00:08:01how are you
00:08:03how is there a wise way is okay otherwise how to be with what's going on
00:08:11so maybe the wise way with rage is just too I'll make a lot of room for it not do anything they really simple make space for it and then the power of making space Power just allowing it to be there is that it's not the same as condoning it
00:08:27or letting have free reign to get involved in but rather to allow for it is to make space
00:08:35and in a space you don't get involved just let it be just let it be
00:08:43so how are you
00:08:46so how are you and it's over and over again hello how are you now alright how are you with this how are you with this
00:08:53because I think most of the time we are some way we are we had to the how we always lose quotes going on if we don't pay attention to we don't notice it because we're barely ahead so it was exam if I like to use is like holding on to the striker
00:09:08I could use a striker to point I could use it as a tool to do something I could hold onto it for a status symbol very good meditation teacher to have a good Striker you know what I can I can do you know I can be holding it has happened we start so I can I was meaning and all this usefulness and I can focus in on it but it but if I ask myself how am I holding it well that I noticed that I'm gripping a really tight and my Knuckles hurt
00:09:38and soon as I see it. That's how I am and I'm kind of hurting
00:09:45then the natural instinct is to relax
00:09:49but if I keep focusing on the status symbol and don't anybody take it for me or if I keep trying to accomplish something get your attention you know then I don't know maybe how I'm holding it
00:10:03to the question how how are you how are you with this how are you holding it reveals the attitude the approach that they what you're doing and when you're seeing how you are and you can ask yourself the question is this the best way to be is the best what is the best to prep this really tight is it better just hold it likely is it better to put it down
00:10:25so the information you get about yourself by the question how it how are you how are you I said any kind of information that's most helpful for finding a direct path to come into some ease with situation
00:10:39if what you're trying to do is to get some deep state of concentration or get Bliss for some people to do a meditation even get really peaceful if that's the goal you're trying to do that it can be just one more thing that you're doing that blind you from how you are
00:10:57it's like one more thing you're holding onto you like them Stryker
00:11:00don't try to do anything
00:11:03and one of the wonderful little sayings in meditation is this kind of wonderful places domain of meditation is the saying nothing needs to happen
00:11:16nothing needs to happen
00:11:19and for some people that is a radical thing to say because the human mind for some people is constantly wanting something to happen to get a nothing needs to happen is frightening for some people some people subsiding their whole life is built on always making something happening wanting some and getting something but it does anything need to happen
00:11:41Anna and so we ask nothing needs to happen but how am I right now how am I right now is I'm trying to prove myself I'm trying to get something try to be someone
00:11:51is a necessary
00:11:54Maybe not maybe I can let go and be simpler
00:11:58to this question how am I is a protection so say that you're going to do a very simple practice of meditating on your breath being present for your breathing
00:12:08so I've I've sometimes you know tried to get involved with breath meditation as a doings I think to accomplish as you know I'm going to become a good meditator I'm going to be the best breath meditate in town and you don't really going to focus you know and really get concentrated is all about this doing
00:12:26and end up doing and trying to accomplish something
00:12:30I lose touch with myself I lose touch with a cost at the feeling of what it's like to be trying to do it and I've literally got in the headaches and I've been thinking a long time so it's not like a regular thing when I was a new meditator how to get headaches I get that sometimes like I did get really angry with myself because it was wonderful thing that the more I try to get concentrated the last I could so my solution
00:13:00then then then you know what that means and it was pretty ugly
00:13:14the finally I crashed but if I'd ask myself how am I how are you then I would notice I would however Myers I'm striving I'm pushing I'm expecting I'm afraid
00:13:27I'm afraid of not accomplishing afraid of what's going to happen if I just kind of let go and just be here somehow that reveals what the hell question review as what's actually going on in a more intimate or personal way that sometime is lost when we're trying to accomplish something and do something and make something happen or be someone
00:13:48so the how question is always coming back how am I how am I and one of the one of the important a nice things about meditations kind of meditation practice is that it's it's it's a way of really becoming intimate with yourself really getting to know you present it's very easy from the people I talk to and see to become an alienated from yourself but not really be in touch with yourself and I really connected let me know what's going on
00:14:14to the question how am I how am I
00:14:18how am I now and then how am I with what I notice
00:14:24I'm sitting here and I noticed that I'm agitated
00:14:27how am I getting agitated
00:14:30so then you can fill in the bike how Mi is that I'm disappointed or I'm unhappy or this must mean that I'm a failure of a meditator
00:14:42so it what the hell would we start seeing the beliefs the beliefs we have the ideas we have the reactions we have the attitudes we have that I happening in the present moment towards what's happening
00:14:55so how am I how are you keep asking keep asking and somebody start seeing Conoco step back back and back so you may be a Restless how am I with the Restless I don't like it how am I with some power am I with not liking it I want to get rid of it
00:15:16how am I with when I get rid of it well I'm just angry
00:15:22I have to live with thinks I don't like how are you is being angry and at some point you step back far enough you start saying well
00:15:29I can just let it be I don't have to keep adding more and more on top of it I can just going to step back and make space and that is one of the one of the now I don't dare say it's giving us $0.05 so far one of the goals of of doing the how question
00:15:48is an ask me how is to begin to relax about how things are to begin to open up and allow for them to be there mix space around them. Because as I said earlier because you want to condone them or because you want them to take over our lives but there's something about the process of stepping back relaxing and allowing opening up
00:16:11oh oh oh like this is like this all takes the pressure
00:16:19Offutt takes the the day off fuel that keeps are going away
00:16:26so many of the activities remind are being fueled are being driven by our desires by our fears by her versions by are not accepted by all these things are trying to do
00:16:42and that's why that that's why they persist through time but how am I how am I and then open how am I was like this who am I with that act like this
00:16:53and then is it possible to be at peace with it is it possible bees
00:16:59but no matter how difficult situation is so it's like this it's like this how how am I
00:17:07so I have use this a lot this question how am I
00:17:12checking back and I learn this my vacation because I needed to learn it I learned it because I noticed it if I was trying too much to do something and meditation I thought I'd lost touch with myself just like I was out there and my breath trying to do something and I wasn't going to settle back and feeling the fullness of who I am
00:17:33and so by asking how I became back into myself and then from back in myself in the fullness of the wholeness then meditation or settling or becoming more peaceful had a chance to happen on its own
00:17:49rather than coming I'm doing just kind of settling or letting go of a relaxing maybe not so different than you finally come home from work and you're home alone it's nice to be home and you just have to be anything for anybody anymore to do anything anymore and it's kind of relaxing kind things mean to fall away and settle away and just you know just because nothing feeling that feeling that the stress or the attention of the day just just allow yourself to be
00:18:18so how are you that's why I offer for you today to keep it simple can use that question how are you and I just keep asking you to see what happens just that the knowledge and what you learn when you ask that question what if a deal for you is that show you how what happens if you follow the thread how am I now and I Am I who am I
00:18:38I just made two piece
00:18:40that's the question
00:18:44so what do you think of that
00:18:47how are you with that
00:18:51anything you anybody wants to say or ask
00:19:26how are you you're quiet
00:19:46I wanted to keep it simple about this was simple I don't know it wasn't you know but I was up there yesterday question how I mind that gives me very simple
00:19:57because I'm inspired
00:20:04buy Mountain currently actually teaching a retreat that came home to speak with my family and I came down to see you so I'm on the street that the retreat center
00:20:14Angie Stone simple just to just to be
00:20:23yes please right behind right behind you for the gym first
00:20:33I guess this is
00:20:36a question that I've been meaning to ask what and maybe not directly related to talk but sort of related
00:20:44I've read books about Zen and in those in the stories that they tell their it seems like they episodes of so you don't like sudden Enlightenment like you somebody says something and you're suddenly
00:21:03changed and
00:21:06but in the past matrician it seems like
00:21:10that song emphasize that all it's gradual
00:21:14thing and I guess tonight's talk is sort of like that if you keep on asking
00:21:22how are you I'm sort of gradually going towards I see you what you want to set something because you've studied in both of those what do you
00:21:38what do you think of that I mean that it is is is there any
00:21:43truth to that something or is there does that really happened I don't know what happened to all of the all of the above ways there are so many people at sudden until you send it stay there that's kind of nice
00:22:06it's gradual until it's sucking
00:22:10you know you do
00:22:15you know there's not many many activities in life with you and you're building towards it and you're working towards it then smiley you get there and it's the actual accomplishment of sudden right so so maybe that's pretty common and so even in Zen they don't put a lot of emphasis and all the years that the Zen monk was training and preparing and working but the actual experience is very quick open like mentioned so it sudden when it finally happens as opposed to you know some novice temper sometimes I think I'll go down to the Zen Monastery I think it's in like many things good I'll come knock on the door of the Zen master and you know it done this this this gradual things are waste of time because you know you it's better than me it is better to be enlightened quickly so that you could then you know maybe live a life no it's it's gradual until it's sudden kind of thing it's one plus one approach
00:23:15what do you mean to sleep more complicated when I just said some people that sometimes I say it's it's sudden Awakening followed by gradual practice sometimes it's gradual practice that's the sudden Awakening followed by more gradual practice all kinds of different combinations and ways in which this can happen some people by accident have some kind of realization life experience and then they spent years practicing because after that they wanted now that I understand something you want to actualize it or live into it
00:23:51but I could offer you if you are game at kind of Zen thing to kind of see if we can get you suddenly enlightened
00:24:12my Stryker
00:24:21free try it
00:24:22okay so we have to pay very careful attention for this
00:24:27is it is it this India a little flicker of a moment
00:24:33weather that little Gap
00:24:35and see if you can notice that little gap for your free
00:24:39make sense so this is like this is at Zen question for suddenly making a tension and see that flicker
00:24:49how are you supposed to cook chicken
00:24:57didn't get it to go by so fast thank you
00:25:12that's a problem with his son school you have to have to be there
00:25:19this place
00:25:25Tiffany heart of it
00:25:28it's simple I hope so and if Buddha was the master of it why are Buddha's writing so complicated but is writing so complicated
00:25:41I want one answer to that is that because human minds are so complicated and it's so yes kind of Meet the complication at that its own terms in order to unravel it
00:25:52so here's an example of the other topic I was thinking of teaching today so this gives me a chance so I hope I can do it shortly
00:26:02the there was a disciple of the Buddha who encountered some non Buddhist spiritual teachers of his time and the spiritual and I know spiritual teachers asked his disciples Buddha what is the Buddha teach
00:26:18I went went went went out what are the Buddhist views
00:26:23confuse me like you know
00:26:25philosophy was his philosophy is that I don't know and say so what what are the philosophy of some of the Buddhist other disciple so I don't know
00:26:37what are you brush your philosophy well I don't know exactly and give them their philosophy which was kind of medicine big metaphysical things that are statements
00:26:55and then and then the disciples we just can't tell him what kind of his philosophy is approach and he says my view
00:27:07is the focus on how philosophies are constructs of the mind that are volitionally intentionally created and if you notice how the mind the activity of the mind that created The View
00:27:21and you see that you don't have to be involved in that activity you'll there you'll find yourself free
00:27:29so it's kind of like coming in at the mall other angle
00:27:33Tunisia make sense to you
00:27:37it's nice to give to talk someone night
00:27:52I'm going to try to put this into words could you elaborate on the balance of thinking so I'm so like I still have this impression that that meditation is about not thinking in a way it's kind of a kind of sounds like what you're talking about but it's about being rather than having or doing right thing special so not thinking would be doing something special so what do you think or you don't think how are you but that's where the freedom is found
00:28:27that makes sense
00:28:30yeah I bet you had a question so please because I heard him to the breath you know what kind of sit there in figure out what you were thinking about so you can start to understand your mind and you know so when I start to feel agitated or something I start to think I go back to like the three characteristics like what you know what is this what am I doing so I'm wondering like the balance of like thinking and trying to figure out your mind versus the balance of just coming back to you right
00:29:07I think it's good to err on the side of being simple and not try to make meditation is complicated thing but if if you find yourself wondering off into thoughts over and over again especially if it's the same kind of thought
00:29:21and then sometimes it's important to investigate what's going on actually going on so you could ask the question how how are you when I'm when I'm thinking having all these thoughts how am I what's going on what's happening with just about to take a deeper look at it because some things some things you won't be free up until you understand as well
00:29:41and so it was so we have to wait so what is it what it what do you need to understand and that thinking mind and what you understood it maybe then you can put it to rest or puts itself to rest
00:29:51that makes sense but it doesn't mean you tomorrow thinking about thinking it's more like a quiet mind looks at it and sees what's going on
00:30:11so how did you stop trying to be peaceful you mentioned earlier how you are with the trying it's just not peaceful
00:30:30so the how how am I you noticed what is the effort ever done making is is it go because Connor is going to get it going counterproductive is going against the grain or against the Skechers but I'm trying I'm trying to be peaceful but there's a reason you can do something with that you do things be peaceful you can like you know if you're at a wild party and it's not very peaceful people having a fight like that it's like right on Santa Barbara right it was very peaceful someone was to leave so you could do certain things sometimes but in meditation and the Mike it's quieter it's some point you come to a place where any effort to do anything to try to accomplish anything it just feels irritating just dust gets in the way it doesn't feel peaceful is even attempted to be more peaceful is itself agitating movement
00:31:25so the best thing to do is just leave it alone
00:31:28and the mind will settle on its own if you leave it alone
00:31:32if you're not bothered by it
00:31:38to make into my care
00:31:49did you see that hit the green light should be on it
00:31:52if you ask a question like how are you and there's no response you're lucky I ask it again so how how are you with nothing happening with nothing they're frightened or bored or I think it's fine and then see you then ask it again how am I with that you like
00:32:20and blank is so nothing is sometimes very important time than variety different ways sometimes it's the cusp of something new happening
00:32:33so here's a
00:32:35but my son was in 4th and 5th grade
00:32:40he had the same teacher so so I doing a summer between 4th and 5th grade the teacher spend time choosing a poem or a verse for every student in the class that was going to be there verse for the year the 55th and 5th grade year and then once a week each student to recite a diverse out loud to the whole class and and so they had TaylorMade verses for the kids kind of somehow spoke to their character or something like that and my son he was really happy he was acting very happy with his verse because he had the shortest one
00:33:23his friend is best friend of the longest ones he was going to relieved the end like this
00:33:38without Darkness
00:33:41nothing is born
00:33:44without light
00:33:46nothing flowers
00:33:49like my great for 5th grader to recite that once a week
00:33:54when you think of means
00:33:57connect to this thing they plank darkness and if it's a fella time maybe it's something new that they're about to be born at the darkness also means difficult times in our life things are dark but without that maybe is nothing nothing really important going to be born
00:34:17without Darkness nothing is born but then once it's born it flowers in in the light the lights I like your car like the light of awareness or attention
00:34:27so don't be afraid of
00:34:51yes please if you could bring it to him could you bring it to me and things here comes one
00:35:04a little more about how you get from the how am I
00:35:10let's say I'm feeling murderous Rage 2 actually somehow what letting go of that living with the understanding that how do you go from having murderous rage for example ask me how am I noticing how it is and then letting go of it so sometimes it might be easy because you're seeing it is enough and realizing this is that this doesn't serve me this is not helpful and if you're lucky maybe it's the the grip is not so hard it may be possible to let go or it might it might be easy I'm in the I'm in the moment of imminent danger this is not this is not cool that I should feel this way I'm about to next time someone talks to me I'm probably off their head
00:35:56so I need to go do something I need to get to be by myself I need to go so just had no notice and that's how you are can give you the information you need to make yourself a safe person then tell me why I should go to school and go go to the beach and go for a long run come back tomorrow when it's all set on the way so that's got to be helpful but in the process of meditation
00:36:20what can happen since you're not killing anyone there you're sitting still how are you just into open to it and feel it more fully but feeling be present for it such a way that you're not feeling it you're not involved in it just making space for it and generally what can happen then as it begins to dissipate because you know I don't know maybe something you know that the actual number but the few years ago they started publishing these reports psychologists are mine scientists about how long and emotion lasts and they said something like emotions on a last something like the most 2 minutes and like what didn't they didn't interview me and why they said that is that emotions have been natural tendency to dissipate unless they get reinforced
00:37:16and so if there's no more thoughts more stories more intentions come along so they active how am I leaving it alone is an act of not act adding more stories adding fuel to it to my taco in two minutes but in the end begins to relax and dissipate and so rather than being a person has to fix it would become the person to make space for the heart the mind to relax and settle away itself
00:37:42and if you keep asking me question how am I know it's a way of getting the information you need it it's helpful to see if it's really helpful to know what's going on you don't just leave your mind alone and not know if they're really see clearly more clearly you can see what's going on then there's space in a sentence for things to unwind or unfold the way they're going to unfold so that's why it's going to work and something as serious as murderous rage I don't want to hold it lightly and say it's a simple thing you might do a lot of different things that might be needed if it's really a real life challenge someone under but the general approach of meditation one of the general approaches is to get out of its way to stop feeding it's up to you laying it and wanted to do that as this question I am I is to notice that you even not liking it if you wasn't even trying to get rid of it so it all the way sometimes it keeps adding to fire to fuel to the fire
00:38:42and so please just leave it alone leave it alone
00:38:46makes sense I hope that satisfying answer
00:38:52okay so
00:38:55I hope that you find occasions this week to ask yourself repeatedly how am I how am I or someone asks you how you are a grateful use that as a mindfulness Bell but I am I you know.
00:39:22and I hope how you are is happy
00:39:26thank you

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