Q: What is the meditation of being mindfulness of in-and-out breathing?
A: From the perspective of Dark Zen it means that fundamentally we are unrelated to in-and-out breathing.
Q: What! I have never heard that before. I thought that mindfulness of in-and-out breathing meant that we must follow our breath. Isn’t that right?
A: If you follow something, aren’t you led by it? In that case you are less than what you follow. And don’t you also, as a consequence, become more of what you follow?
Q: Yes, of course. But isn’t that what the Buddha is telling us to doing this particular form of meditation? I mean—aren’t we supposed to be aware of our breathing?
A: Why would the Buddha, who is detached from his corporeal body, teach his students to be dependent on the breath cycles, as if to be led by them? Maybe he is telling his students to remember what is before in-and-out breathing so as to be aloof from any kind of breath attachment—and overall, the mortal body.
Q: Give me a practical example. I am confused right now.
A: When I meditate, I first recollect the antecedent source of my breathing. In this state, when breathing is going on, I maintain a recollection which is prior to the totality of breathing which is most imperceptible.
Q: I am still confused. Explain to me again what you mean.
A: First, assume the proper meditation posture that you have been taught. Next, just breathe in and out for a few seconds. Fine. Now, do this. Activate your out-breath so as to breathe it out. Next, activate your in-breath, so as to breathe it in. This would be like actively thrusting your hand out, then taking it back in thinking, I am thrusting my hand out; now I am drawing it in. So, do that now with your breathing. And think all the while that what is doing the breathing is always prior to both in-and-out breathing.
Q: Okay. It’s a little strange, but I sense a small ‘energy’ of sorts growing in me when I do that. I see what you mean. Curiously, something is happening. A: Hey, that is great! That means that you are energizing your breathing by being a little bit before it. Just let me say, that the more prior you can manage to become, the more you will sense the breathing as being energized. Q: Where does the mindfulness come into play?
A: Mindfulness actually means to recollect that which is, let us say, the one who is free of breathing! This one is always before in-and-out breathing—just remember that. By recollecting it, the more of you eventually begins to spiritually separate from the body—in a spiritual way that is—thus being able to distinguish the body from that which is not the body.
Q: May I ask you where you learned this type of meditation?
A: If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. In the course of practice, many things happen which cannot be explained. One day you just try something different. Then, pow! Something extraordinary happens. Then you re-read a few Sutras and discover the Buddha was a slippery old devil. Nothing magic, but nothing ordinary either.
Q: Do you think that maybe you invented something new?
A: Let’s put it this way – I was just lucky to discover what I think the Buddha figured out a long time ago.
Q: Do you practice it? And what is it like?
A: Sure. After a while you can even get past your heart beats. Sometimes I can, for a moment, get past the body. It is quite weird.
Q: Do you teach this kind of meditation?
A: No, not personally. I haven’t either the space nor the money to teach. In what amounts to living in a back room and eating beans and rice, I do the best I can.
Q: I don’t believe that. Well, anyway, I hope someone helps you.
A: Me too. But I don’t expect anything. We just happen to live in a time when everyone wants money and power. Most people could care less about this kind of stuff, unless, of course, it helps them with their task of making a million dollars! [laughing]
Q: Is this meditation of yours like zazen?
A: Not at all. Zazen is like waiting for a bus. My meditation is like flying. I should say, however, that all forms of meditation are directed towards overcoming our fixation with the body and all its problems. Why would anyone meditate thinking, I want to experience great pain whilst meditating? No, instead we sit and try to come to some kind of inner peace. To bring this about we try out different meditations like following our breaths or counting or just sitting. Most of these forms, however, don’t work. And many kid themselves into believing that their meditation is making progress. With Dark Zen’s meditation – progress is known without a doubt.
Q: How is that?
A: Because Mind is the leader of all things.
Q: You’re saying, it seems, that because Mind is before all else and all else comes after; that by remembering our beforeness during breathing, we are, in a way, tracing our steps back to the original Buddha Mind. Is that right?
A: Say, do you want to take over? [laughing] Hey, that was good. But you figured it out because it is so natural. That is what I love about Buddhism – it’s like the religion of the universe. It is simple and elegant. But I am afraid we humans are getting too complicated these days. And maybe that is why Buddhism seems difficult. But I am digressing, I am afraid.
Q: So what is it like when you meditate – I think I have asked this before?
A: Well, I’m at that stage where the more of me is identified with what is not my mortal body. I guess you could say I sense my mind affecting my body’s nerves so as to energize and lead my body and thus not follow it anymore as to be its slave. As a result, my body tries to comport itself with mind and shape up! Automatically, I began to eat less, sleep less, and care less about dying. One also senses another body growing which is like clear light, but with bliss. It is kind of neat—your own secret delight.
Q: Well that sounds interesting. I sure hope you do something with this meditation and share it with the rest of us.
A: I hope so too. It would be fun to have everyone all jacked up on joy!
Text by Zenmar, the Dark Zen mystic
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