Wuwei – Book Entry

From shifu Michael’s third book coming out in January 2019

Shifu Michael RinaldiniJanuary 20, 2018
I recently purchased a used book from Amazon.com that I came across in a retreat center library. I thought I should have it in my own library since its main subject matter is on silence and solitude. It’s not a particularly spiritual book but it highlights that aspect of solitude which is appealing to the sensitive type of person who craves a simple life. The book is Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. She varies her time between living in a simple cottage in New Hampshire and living in New York City. She passed away in 1995 in her 80’s. Even though she led a full life as a writer, her love of solitude was expressed throughout her life. From her journal writings, she says, “The value of solitude – one of its values – is, of course, that there is nothing to cushion against attacks from within, just as there is nothing to help balance at times of particular stress or depression” (Sarton 1973, 16). She also connects her love of solitude with her mental states which were sometimes marked by depression and even suicide. “Later on in the night I reached a quite different level of being. I was thinking about solitude, its supreme value. Here in Nelson I have been close to suicide more than once, and more than once have been close to a mystical experience of unity with the universe” (1973, 57). I have often said to others when they ask me about my own experiences in solitude, that the solitary experience reveals to the person who they really are. There is no one to play games (that is, psychological ego games) with, and you just have yourself to confront. You can be totally honest with yourself, or you can be self-deceptive. In either case, you’ll know which of these is your real self.

February 1, 2018
I am working on preparations for my upcoming retreat in April. One of the new things I am planning to do is give students study notes on the key theory and practices that will be covered on the retreat. As an example are my notes describing the Zuowang method of meditation.

The method of meditation that we will practice on our retreat is known as Zuowang (sitting and forgetting) meditation. Zuowang falls into the passive tradition of meditation to develop serenity, that is, a clear mind, free of any thoughts, and calm from distracting emotions. Its aim is to allow the wonders of the spiritual world to naturally arise.

Following the guidance of Master Wu Jyh Cherng from his book, Daoist Meditation, I will paraphrase and add my own words to this method of meditation.

The method is broken down to three stages. The first stage is the development of concentration. The meditator concentrates his mind on the air that is breathed. This includes being aware of the noises and sensations that one experiences while breathing. It is like being an outside observer watching someone else breathe. During this process, the breathing may become irregular or even stop for brief moments. The meditator adjusts his concentration to adapt to these fluctuations in breathing. This process will further cause the meditator to separate more from the mind and its material, yet imaginary fascinations. In the end, a very concentrated mind will develop and one will breathe naturally.

6:38 pm
As stage two develops, you will stop paying attention to the noises and sensations of breathing. This is the stage of contemplation. This stage progresses from the first stage in a natural way. You can’t force it. It’s what the Daoists call Wuwei. The mind is now empty of distractions, and again, is naturally resting in the breath. There is a feeling or a knowing, that now you are the breath. The separate identity has dispersed and you breathe in your heart essence (Consciousness).

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