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Bodhisattva Ideal - Questions and Answers Tuscany 1984 Part 14 - Unchecked

DISCLAIMER - This transcript has not been checked, and may contain mistakes and mishearings.

by Sangharakshita

... but not spending
long periods of several months a year on retreat, consequently having little Dhyana experience, could
the deliberate cultivation of Sampajana-asi understand it 'continually keeping the goal in mind' - be a
valid approach to developing insight ? And how is Sampajana cultivated ?
Well one should certainly keep Sampajana in mind. It1s sort of 'clear consciousness of one.~s real
goal'. But one mustn't, at the same time, keep it in nind as something too distabt. A goal, by very
definition is something towards which you are actually working. So if you are in a situation where
you're not able to work towards that goal, well yes it is very good to keep that goal in mind, but you
also have to keep in mind the fact that your present situation, your present conditions do prevent you
from making an effective approach to that goal, and that as soon as possible, you must bring about a
change in that situation.
So in the case of meditation, if you recognise that in order to get anywhere near your goal
you'll have to do a certain amount of meditation and if you find that working in a co-op doesn't permit
you to do that amount of meditation, ie. not to approach the goal effectively, you've not only got to
bear in mind the goal, but also the liaitations your present situation. And bear in mind moreover, that
you need to terminate them as soon as you conveniently
� n - so that you ".
can start approaching the goal effectively, as distinct from really
recognising the goal as your gottl,as it were, theoretically. Will Spens.- I think I4ve probably
misunderstood the meaning of sampajana 'ccc I was under the impression that it was more as if you
didn't have enough time to develop Prajn~a~ through samatha meditation, through Dhyana experience,
it was possible to work towards that by whatever you were doing in any particular situation - being
able to think 'Vail I'm doing that for the sake of er...'
S.- Well in a way tflat it So, because for instance, supposing you are working in a 00~0p~ and beoause
you are working in that co-op, it is going to be possible for that 00~0p~ say after 6 months, to send you
on a long meditation retreat. Well then clearly your working in the co-op is helping you towards that
particular end.
But Sampajana usually means - there's a compound expression-
Sati-sampajana - Sati is usually translated as recollection o~ mindful nesq or awareness, and sampajana
as clear comprehension and it is specifically a clear comprehension of the goal. That is to say, the goal
of the spiritual life. It's not sufficient to be aware, say of your bodily movements and your feelings,
your emotions, your thoughts and so on. Y~u alic need to maintain a constant clear comprehension of
what is your goal - what is the goal of the spiritual life, what is your spiritual ideale- so that 'cu may
move constantly towards that. But I think there's a sort of question inside your question, I'm not quite
sure what it is, I think the actual question matter hasn't emerged fully. Will Spens. - Well, it could be,
where it came from was that I'd heard that you'd been sp~king to Kamala~ila, I hope that I'm not
misquoting this, but...
S.- Well I have been speaking to him, so... (laughter) He's there so I expect he can check up on
anything I say. (Laughter)
Will Spens. - What I understood, ~,coming out of the conversation was that Kama1as'~la had been
saying that he was at Vajraloka and because he had quite a lot of administrative work, he w~sn't in a
position where he
267could develop a great a~ount of ~hyana experience. That you'd said
to him that although he perhaps couldn't do that, perhaps he could approach pra~na by just bearing in
mind exactly what he was doing, while...
- Approach Prajn~a ?
Will. - Well approach insight, without a large arniount of dhyana experience.
- Well of course 'large' is a relative term. So if I say that to Kamala~1la, I'm saying it to
someone who has quite a few hours meditation every day and who as far as I know devotes a much
less number of hours, even if tt is hours, to administrative work. Do you see what I mean,?
He's not working in a co-op~&also doing administrative work. It's a question of doing quite a bit of
meditation and also administrative work. So if, say,witha mind caturated with 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 hours of
meditation you then devote yourself or direct yourself to administrative work, well you are in position
perhaps, not only to maintain your mind- fulness, but to try to develop insight in co+ction with the
admin- istrative or other practical work that you are doing.
One couldn't very well give that sort of advice, or say that sort of thing, to someone who,
when he was not doing administrative work, was doing come other kind of active work not doing
meditation. Do you see what I mean ? res. So that was, those remarks were addressed to him, or to
anyone in his sort of possition partioula~y - not to people in
general. I think to be able to aply insight to, or to develop insight in relation to that sort of situation,
that sort of work, you will
need to have 'saturated' your mind in Dhyana, perhaps for several hours previously and bein~ doing
that on a regular sort of basis. I think people know from their own experience that the usual half or a
one hour in the morning and/or in the evening is not enough~to enable you to develop insight during
the day in coneotion with your other work.
I won't say that it ii impossible, because the~recources of human nature are indeed
unfathomable, but I think it's rather unlikely
268in most cases.
Will. - But if you are working in a co-op, I know this will vary from individual to individual, but what
would you, could you give any guide- line to the amount of time that you would need to spend every
year, in order to do so, to develop insight ?
S. - That is a very difficult matter becauser as you say, individuals do differ so much. Sometimes I
wondtr why we don't put it the other way round. (Laughter) H"o# much time, how many rnonths~a
year we ought
be working in a co-op ? Or how matiy months we'd need to work in a each year co-op7 to
support ourselves w~ile we are meditating. Perhaps we
should sometimes look at it in that sort of way.
But I wouldn't like anybody, any Order Member, to say fall below
one month of retreat a year. And even that is really a st9p-gap. Of course a lot depends also upon your
actual, day-to-day life. Well if
you do have a regular morning and/or evening meditation, and if~ your ~tfe~~s y~i~ live it in the
context of our co-op iq integrated, positive and happy, well thats rather a different situation from
working in a way that is productive of tensions and stress (and in a way) you have perhaps from
disagreements with the people that you're working with. So all these factors do make ~ quite quite
difficult to generalise. But as a very rough and ready rule of thuinb, bit of guidence, I'd say well don't
let annual quota of retreats, and I don't mean general retreats, just going along and, say, helping out on
a beginners retreat, I mean a retreat for your cake - whether it's meditation or a combination
of meditation and study. Don't let it fall below one month a year. actually could
I think it
would be good if every Order Member/spend 3 or 4months-a year on retreat. Preferably in one long stretch
� I think that would be - I was guing to say
ideal , it wouldn't even be ideal - but it would be more normal as it were. I think I have in mind of
course, the old pattern of Buddhist monastic life where you wandered, say for 8 or 9 months and you
were in one place for 3 or for 4 months, enjoying your rainy season retreat or summer retreat as it
came to be called.
269I think we should try to work towards that sort of pattern. I think if
you"4re working in a busy centre or working in a co-Op, I think you need that sort ofrefreshment and
renewal of inspiration. Because if you1re working in a centre especially, you're giving out, you're
teaching people, you're talking to people - but 7ou have to be very careful that you don't exhaust your
'stock' of Dharma too quickly, you have to constantly replenish. Not that literally what ;;ou give away ,
you lose, no - if anything it's the opposite; but you can feel, if you're not careful, 'drained' as with
-regards your- energies~ You can feel your inspiration drying up. If you're not careful , insensibly,
you'll get out of touch with the people who come along.
You'll start feeling it as a bit of a chore that you have to deal with them, talk to them, answer
their questions, listen to them and all the rest of it. You'll even start feeling, if you're not care- ful , it's a
bit of an imposition, that they're imposing on you. You might even start feeling a vague iritation with
them. That is really, really a danger signal for any Order Member working in or ~round a centre.
You've got to really enjoy working with people and enjoy giving out, but even if you do enjoy it,
non~heless after a while if.you" havn't had a retreat for some time you may well find your springs of
inspiration drying up. Even if not exactly drying up, you'll certainly need some time and some space to
yourself. You can't be giving out all the time - that's unbalanoed, you have to be taking in as well as
giving out.
So really I~td like to see all Order Members able to go on ...

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