[ Sitting Practice ]
The Art of War
A Small Arsenal of Techniques for the Lay Seeker
Don't kid yourself. It is war!
Behave fearlessly even in the face of your fear. Be willing to risk everything if victory is in your sights.
Now and again risk everything even if victory isn't in your sites. It'll keep you sharp.
When you are about to enter battle, burn your bridges, destroy your provisions, allow for no alternative but victory.
OK. If you can't go this far, risk something, sometimes. Do without here and there. Give away something you cherish. Do what needs to be done even at the risk of loss.
Don't just passively react or let go when it's natural. Think about it, plan an attack. Execute. Evaluate. Reformulate. Re-group. Renew the attack.
Keep Good Company
That means, of course, find a Dhamma Friend or Teacher and hang out with those of like mind, but it also means do things that keep your attention on the goal. Be of service to your local vihara; research the Dhamma, do sit-down meditation, find aspects of the practice that you enjoy and willingly come back to time and time again. That sort of thing.
Accentuate the Positive
Lay life is characterized by periods of intense activity and also periods where there is little or no activity. Learn to capitalize on this phenomena. Spend a part of your sit down time organizing your venture into the world. Place those activities which involve the most physical activity together, try and clear away all activity from those times when natural activity has slowed or stopped.
Avoid abrupt transitions. Try and arrange things to ebb and flow; to move smoothly and gradually to a peak of activity and from the peak to the still.
Do this on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly basis.
Take it up a notch: when activity is slow, also reduce food intake and sleep; relapse into indulgence in rich foods and extra sleep, if you are going to do these things at all, at times when you are most active in other ways. Don't wait for the weekend to "catch up on sleep." You can kill four hours of calm with a slice of cake; you can kill a whole half day with an extra cup of coffee. Do not "reward" yourself with these sorts of "treats."
Unplug the phone; don't drive or ride a bicycle; don't shop -- plan ahead so you will have enough to eat without going out, or better yet, don't cook, have food already prepared or brought in; get rid of the television and don't play music or games or go to movies or other entertainments during the times of low activity. Do all these things, if you are going to do them during the high activity times.
Learn to transition smoothly: If your quiet time gets interrupted, do not get upset, just switch gears; if during the active time a quiet stretch becomes available, quickly take advantage.
Find yaself some place ta be alone!
This is especially important for you married folk out there and those with children. You must define some space where you are not to be disturbed short of a life-threatening situation.
Live by Attrition
To the degree it is possible, let it all go. Do not replace what has been let go. What you cannot yet let go completely, allow to run out. Do not replace what has run out. What you cannot be without after you have run out, re-supply yourself with to the smallest degree possible and allow it to run out again. Allow space between occurrences. Expand that space.
Make A Game Out of It
If Mara gets you worked up with Lust, you loose points;
if he gets you Angry you loose points;
if he gets you involved you loose points;
if he tempts you with the sexual and you pass it passed you gain points;
if he tries to get your goat and you don't react with anger or frustration, you gain points;
if you remain detached, you gain points.
Don't play games. Play games you loose points.
Do without, Make Do, Use a Shotgun Approach to Letting Go
Constantly press your limits. Always (ok, as often as you can) be doing without something.
When you let yourself run out of something, don't replace it right away.
When you see you are out of something don't replace it, see if there is another way to satisfy the desire.
Let go of multiple things at a time; this way you will see similarities in what you grasp after and the symptoms of withdrawl, and what causes you to relapse; and you will have some successes as well as some failures so that all your eggs are not in one basket, your image of your progress and your abilities do not ride on one success or failure.
Eat A Beggar's Banquet; Prisoner's Fare
At least during the quite periods eat only basic foods and very little and at the right time after sunup, before noon from one bowl. No luxurious stuff. Imagine the situation of the Beggar or the Prisoner. A person who does not have a choice and whose benefactors in terms of food are willing only to provide just enough to survive. After a time doing this practice you will see the benefits in wanting little; in wanting little there is little fear of not getting what you want; there is little suffering when you do not get what you want; there is little ground for the enemy to cause you to suffer by deprivation.
Never Give Up Altogether
If you've reached your limit for the time being, do not just throw in the towel. Yield on the least significant thing first. Execute an orderly retreat yielding as little ground as possible.
Start Over Again As Soon As You Have Regained Your Strength
Read Sun Tsu: The Art of War