How do we balance ‘doing’ and ‘not-doing’ in our meditation practice?

A student writes:

Sometimes meditation is described more as investigative wondering about experience, as in vipashyana. Such investigative meditation feels like a ‘doing’, yet meditation is often described  as not-doing, allowing, giving space to what arises. How do both ways of meditating relate to ‘resting in awareness’? 

Lama Shenpen responds:

‘Resting in awareness’ suggests we know what awareness is and how to simply be one with that awareness – which is right but we have a long journey to go before that’s how we are able to be. So to find that way of being we have to make some kind of effort to recognise what is blocking us and setting ourselves up to let those blockages dissolve. 

Investigation and wondering require a great deal of focused attention to our direct experience – a lot of honesty and openness and than in turn requires confidence and a real wish to be that open and honest. I think you can see where I am going with this – we need to play the one against the other – on the one hand keeping in mind there is nothing to do ultimately and that to arrive at non-doing, sustained reflection and pondering is required – and probably much else as well.

There are all sorts of ways we can apply Dharma practices in ways that will help to remove the obstacles blocking us. Hence the whole Living the Awakened Heart training programme.

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