Friday, May 22, 2015

Clearing Vasanas

Sunday May 31 we will meet at my office in Binghamton at 2 pm for 15 minutes of silent meditation followed by a discussion of how to recognize and be free of conditioned, automatic patterns of thought, belief, and feeling. Traditionally in Advaita Vedanta and classical Buddhism these patterns have been known as vasanas.
Vāsanā is a behavioral tendency or karmic imprint which influences the present behavior of a person. It is a technical term in Indian religions, particularly Buddhist philosophy and Advaita Vedanta.
Past impressions, impressions formed, the present consciousness of past (life) perceptions; the impression of anything in the mind, the present consciousness formed from past perceptions, knowledge derived from memory, the impressions remaining in the mind; thinking of, longing for, expectation, desire, inclination. (All of the above from Wikipedia).

For our purposes, let us think of vasanas as any thought, behavior, or emotion that is the result of conditioning and programming. The corresponding understanding is that thoughts, behaviors, and emotions can arise from either vasanas or from the free movement of Mind in the world through the form of a particular person. These free and spontaneous thoughts, acts, and feelings are unconditioned and therefore impersonal. This free movement is acting or speaking from no mind or the Self, as the source of such actions is unknown. It is known, however, that such acts are not ‘mine’ as they do not arise from ‘me’. It is possible and desirable to learn to recognize the difference between actions originating from ‘emptiness’ and those originating from conditioning.
It is useful and important to improve the quality of our daily life to allow increasingly for the free movement of the Self through us. By becoming aware of and learning to not feed or indulge our conditioned beliefs and reactions, we can improve our ability to be present for our life. This talk will focus on becoming aware of our common and persistent vasanas. We will also discuss understandings and practices that facilitate our ability to become progressively free of such conditioning.
With the emergence of various levels of awakening, there is the spontaneous, effortless disappearance of many vasanas. However, it is my experience that the deeper the awakening, the harder it is to recognize the remaining blind spots in our self. The willingness to recognize the emergence of these blind spots almost always requires a preexisting (prior to awakening) deep commitment to a spiritual tradition which recognizes the necessity of continuous practice and humility after even the most profound awakening. The alternative is to maintain an honest openness to the emergence of conditioned behavior. The easiest and most effective way for this openness to occur is through interaction with a living teacher who has been through every stage of this journey.
If you are interested in attending, please RSVP as space is limited.

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