From: Heart Sutra Workshop 1
At the same time, noble Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva mahasattva, was looking right at the experience of the profound perfection of wisdom and he saw the five groups to be empty of nature.
So now we have to figure out what Avalokiteshvara was doing. Well, I'd like you to put the books down. You're never going to find this in the book.
How many of you remember the fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea? Hmm, lots of you don't know this story. What do they teach in schools these days? [Laughter] I won't go into all the details of the story, but there's a prince and he has to determine who is a suitable wife. So these various princesses are invited, and he has an old aunt or grandmother who's helping him choose the right wife. She has a bed prepared. It consists of a hundred mattresses and under the bottom mattress she places a dried pea.
One after another these princesses come in and sleep in this bed for the night and she asks, "How was your sleep?" And they all say, "It was wonderful, I had a very nice sleep." Until one woman says, "Ah! It was terrible. There was something in my bed and I just feel black and blue, and all bruised."Grandmother says to the prince, "This is your wife."
Now there's many ways we can understand this story. I'm not going to explore that particularly. What I want you to do is be that princess.
We're just going to sit here. I want you to rest. Now, now we'll do this up here so that everybody can see. Can I borrow a piece of paper? Thank you.
Now the way most people rest is like this. [Places a book on top of a glass] It is a form of resting, but in resting that way you don't experience very much.
There's another way of resting and that's like that. [Places the somewhat flexible sheet of paper on top of the glass. It bends a little when placed on the glass] It's a little more complete resting, you see these parts are resting more fully than the book was. But it's still only a partial form of resting. Can I borrow that cloth? Thank you.
AudioclipThere's a third way of resting which is like this. [Places a soft silk cloth over the glass. The cloth drapes over and takes the shape of the glass] You feel everything that is there in your experience. Like the princess and the pea. That's how I want you to rest right now.
Be the princess, feel all the peas. None of the peas are an enemy, though we often think they are and so we rest like this [Rigidly] [Laughter].And see what has to happen in you to rest that way [Like the princess]. So there will be sensations, there will be feelings, and there will be thoughts. There may be sensations in your body. There may be emotions that are connected to things that happened this week or things that you're concerned might happen next week or next year. And there may be some thoughts and stories. Don't try to get rid of any of it. Just explore "How can I rest with this?"
Now, this doesn't mean go with the flow. As one person, Jim Hightower, once said, "The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it's conformity. Even dead fish go with the flow." So this is not about being a dead fish! That's kind of like this... (sighs as he goes limp)
No, this is about opening to and resting in exactly what is there. So we'll do this for a few minutes together now.
You may find the exercise we did on opening helpful to this, you may find it helpful, I don't know.
If you start to rest and something stops you, rest with that. Don't try to overcome it or go to war with it. Just rest with that too.
From time to time check your body. Is it resting? Many of us meditate with our chins jutted forward, it creates tension in the jaw and the neck. Not exactly resting but we try to ignore that because we are trying to meditate "the right way."
So don't think about doing this the right way, just think about resting.
Resting in the body. Resting the heart. Resting the mind.
Check your shoulders...check your stomach...let yourself open to whatever is there. All of the old pains...all the monsters under the bed or in the basement. Rest completely. Allow yourself to feel what you may have never felt before, what you've held away from.
If thoughts or emotions start up, don't ask, How can I get rid of these?" Instead ask, "How can I rest with these?"
Now we add on more element.
As you rest, look at this experience of resting. Don't start to think about it, just look at it. And rest in the looking. Look at this experience of resting and rest in the looking.
Rest in your experience. Look at the experience of resting and rest in the looking.