Reflections on Mahayana Teachings

This is an offering by Andrea Netscher based on Doug Duncan & Catherine Pawasarat’s Mahayana teachings in May 2016.

Once upon a time there was a month of Mahayana teachings on Planet Dharma. The cool thing about it was that you could participate no matter where you lived. A very generous way of sharing the teachings, I would say.

So what was the teaching about?  By studying the Diamond Sutra and the Vimalakirti Sutra, we contemplated spacious emptiness and looking behind the curtain.

How do you contemplate spacious emptiness?

meditation liberation

meditation liberation

Slow down for a moment and try it, right now! Can you feel the space between you and the computer screen? If you concentrate more on the space than on the object, what happens to your sense of self? How does it feel? Is it pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? There is no right, no wrong, there simply is.

One can do this practice anytime or anywhere with no set boundaries. We have a right and an obligation to integrate spacious emptiness within us and outside us.

How is this kind of contemplation useful?

By focusing more on spacious emptiness than on the object, an increased awareness naturally emerges. The view gets wider and suddenly one can take a look behind the curtain(s).

mahayana sutra

mahayana sutra

Concepts we hold on to may change or dissolve, new concepts arise, may change, dissolve … The grip of our habitual daily lives may slowly loosen up.

How has this influenced my meditation?

For many years I thought meditation was about “feeling good”. I knew intellectually that it had something to do with increasing awareness, but all I wanted was that “feeling good vibration”. So I often felt quite good and after my goal of feeling good was achieved I would go to sleep in my meditation. I just sat there “feeling good”. There was no investigation happening. In the long term, kind of boring, right?

Mahayana Sutra

Mahayana Sutra

By integrating the focus on spacious emptiness the meditation became alive. No more sleeping. It is now more like a journey. And yes, it still feels good, but it is not about the “good feeling”. It is about the journey. The constant changes are happening. There is no ground to stand on.

In this Mahayana-Teaching, the carpet is constantly taken out from under one’s feet. And that strong belief in the “separate me” is experienced as an illusion.

Hail, what a liberation!

As Sensei once said:

“It is not difficult to awaken, it is difficult to be you.”

I want to thank my wonderful teachers Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat for their priceless teaching on the Mahayana Sutras. And I want to thank all the other participants for sharing their experiences. Your generosity is touching my heart.

Andrea Netscher, Germany

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