Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Working with the Four Veils
This talk will explore the four tricky techniques big deal mind uses to protect solid self: illusions, delusions, attachments, and aggression. I think of these as veils—something that conceals, separates, or screens out. Illusions, delusions, attachments, and aggression all interfere with clear seeing by providing a perspective on your experiences that can be radically different from what’s actually occurring, which has the effect of separating you from the ongoing flow of your life. These four veils are interwoven and often interdependent. When illusions are challenged, delusion steps in to explain the discrepancy, then resistance to any information to the contrary shows up as attachment. Ultimately, aggression steps in to protect all three. The journey though illusion, delusion, and attachment generally occurs so quickly that we don’t recognize their influence until they show up in aggressive mindless reactions.
Watching the activity of the four veils will by keep you from being hooked into mindless reactions and will go a long way to deepening your mindful presence and practice throughout your life. Remember that mindful practice in not about getting rid of the four veils, rather bringing patient, open, and compassionate awareness to the flow of your life experiences.
Here are easy practices you can use in you day to day life that will help remind you to maintain spacious presence and break your reactive cycle. This section of practices will span a four week period. Each week will help strengthen mindful presnence in the presence of your four veils. You will work with your four veils while bringing mindful awareness to them.
Here is the strategy:
Begin and end every day with reminding yourself of the importance of cultivating patience, openness, and compassion. With each of the following pracrtices, take 15 – 20 minutes each day and connect with your breath.
Week one Illusion: During this week begin and end each day resting in the presence of your breath. As you breathe in silently repeat to yourself: I am reminded of my connection to all of life. As you breathe out silently repeat to yourself: I relax into the flow of all life.”
If you mind resists and wanders gently return to your breath and your remeiders.
Week two Delusion: During this week begin and end each day resting in the presence of your breath. As you breathe in silently repeat to yourself: I will listen to my lifes story. As you breathe out silently repeat: I will let go of my story.
Week three Attachment: Druing this week begin and end each day resting in the presence of your breath. As you breathe In silently repeat: I am letting go resistance. As you breathe out silently repeat: I am embracing all that is offered in each moment.
Week four Aggression: And finally during this week begin and end each day resting in the presence of your breath. As you breathe in silently repeat: I notice my fear/reaction. As you breathe out silently repeat: I strive to offer a patient, open, and compassionate response
The more you watch the four veils the less influence they will have. Bring spacious watchfulness to how the four veils operate, and you bring yourself closer and closer to enhancing mindful responses in your life. Every time you stop and pause with these four practices, you soften the solidity of your experience and create greater spaciousness for patience, openness, and compassion to deepen you mindful presence.
The nice thing about these practices is that you can take them with you throughout your day. When needed pause, return to your breath and silently repeat these reminders. If you are resisting the flow of life return to the reminders practiced in week one. If you are caught up in listening to your stories about the events of your life, return to the reminders you practiced in week two. If you are being stubborn, or otherwise attached, return to the reminders you practiced in week three. IF you are feeling tight and reactive return to the reminders you practiced in week 4.
Also, if you find that you struggle with one or more of these veils return to that chapter and keep working. The more you keep bringing watchful, spacious awareness to the flow of your life the more meaningful your mindful presence will become. This is a process. The more you work with it, the more it will work in your life.
As you navigate through the ongoing ebb and flow of your life experiences, take time to pause and reconnect with your awareness of how your veils of illusion, delusion, attachment, and aggression may be keeping you disconnected from others, from everything your life has to offer, and even from yourself.
Through the difficult work of self-inquiry in part 2 of this book, you’ve come to understand yourself and your ways of responding to the world, creating a foundation you can build upon as you expand your practice out into the world around you. Part 3 of this book will help you apply mindfulness to everyday activities such as eating, walking, and driving—and to your awareness of the world around you. It will also help you bring patience, openness, and compassion to the more substantial challenges of mindfulness in relationships. In the final chapter, I’ll introduce you to the ancient practice of loving-kindness meditation, which will help you extend compassion outward in an expansive way, ultimately to all living beings.