I guess if I were to have to make a call I’d say that I am taming the bull. I’m reminded of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approach to body building; everytime the same routine, session in, session out. It’s not about making it interesting, it’s about getting the job done. And I’m reminded of something Gil Fronsdal once said; to paraphrase: that people think my talk was boring is a good thing. After all, what we’re pointing to is interesting not the pointing itself. But it seems we are making finer and finer distinctions until there are no distinctions at all.
So, this taming, seems to be about getting some distance on the mind; the kind of distance where thoughts are seen to be external, which is I guess glimpsing the bull. Perhaps distance should be called spaciousness. Thoughts arise within a much wider space than the thoughts themselves. And because of that distance there is a measure of control, which seems to be no control at all, because when there is control it is really thoughts controlling thoughts. Call this wider space presence.
But, now there’s a coming and going within this presence. That is to say from the seemingly wider awareness back to identification with thought. That’s why I think this is called taming the bull and also why I think persistence is key. It seems to me it’s more like breaking in a horse, except not only are we breaking it in, but we’re learning to ride at the same time. We fall off, i.e. return back to identification with thought. Then we realise this and get back on. That’s the coming and going or Shin Shau’s wiping the mirror, I guess.
But those who have gone before talk about achieving a sudden realisation, an insight so deep which brings this coming and going to an end. I think we need to get grips with what those who apparently have made the leap have had to say about it. Not that there is anything to be grasped of course. I’m sure Arnold did his research. Aside from the fact that buddha is found within one’s own mind, I wonder what I’m not yet seeing.
In the meantime Hui Neng’s realisation on hearing his predecessor recite the Diamond Sutra comes to mind, which was something around the idea of at all moments keeping the mind free. Perhaps awakening is a matter of spiritual will.