Lojong Practice: 7 Rest in Alaya

I am using Weeping Buddha and the lojong sayings and commentary from Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa as a study, together.
I’ve been practicing
tonglen for almost three decades, and it is my main practice.
This is the eighth weekly installment.  To start at the beginning go here.

2014 7 LOJONG

The Tibetans love lists: 10,000 of this or that.  I come from a simpler path, the zen path, and so am always trying to simplify what they are saying to grok the point.  In this slogan they are pointing to the parts that make our consciousness in this lifetime, including our senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch) and our coordinating mind.  They add another aspect to mind, which is Nuisance Mind, nyon-yi, or neurosis — which the zennies call monkey mind, always chattering, commenting, and basically causing trouble.

Alaya (not to be confused with alaya-vijnana) is underneath all that, the part of consciousness that is also called basic wakefulness, or clear mind.  Alaya is non-discriminating, and can be present for the suchness of what is in this moment, free of monkey-mind.   It is the place where one is likely to be free of the separations, of them and me, this and that, and where there is a simplicity of using the senses to see phenomena as a lovely play of life, and simply BE without grasping.  If you are sad, you may cry.  If you are moved to laughter, it will be a belly laugh.  Either way, you don’t hang onto the moment, you experience it and let it pass.

This is where you want to rest in meditation and beyond, simply being with the suchness.

Personally, it is most difficult for me to rest in alaya post-meditation, however, I can hear the chatter in my head.  As I write this, monkey-mind has kicked in loudly, like an overbearing critic.

‘be real, it is impossible for you’

After 35 years of meditation I can occasionally find alaya while sitting, which in meditation is very quiet and free from yammering.


It is restful, restorative.  I feel a weighted sense to my body, not uncomfortable, like a grounding.

‘that sounds so stupid, new age mumbo jumbo”

When I am off the zafu, however, my monkey mind kicks in loudly more often than not.

‘it still is running
i am going to sound like a novice who knows nothing
well that is the point to take my readers along for this study’

At this point, I can only keep it from being in charge.
I can keep it from driving me insane with worry in that I know it is only chatter,
and can look at this place called the present and
see that things are not what the monkey mind is chattering on about.

‘i hope you have a check in the post box today, you have so many things to do.’

In this present place, I have the keyboard and this post, wonderful ginger coffee in my bright red mug, and a cool rainy day.

‘nice try describing the day is not going to shut me up.
cookies. fried chicken.

Oh gads it got me to engage with the fried chicken comment.  I do love fried chicken!

‘the way to your mind is through food’

Meditation allows me to hear the chatter, the yah-yah-yahing in my head.   The chatter can be exhausting.  You don’t know it is running if you haven’t meditated (sitting still, trying to quiet your mind and count your breaths) so you have no idea how insanely crazy it is, causing anxiety while running just below your consciousness.  Meditation doesn’t quiet it up — at least not in my experience — but allows you to hear it!  After so many years of meditating you become familiar with your crazy running commentary; then you can hear it in your post-meditation experience.  It offers you the choice to dance with the monkey or center and look about at the suchness of what is so in present time.  (BTW, monkey mind is very quiet right now.)

In post-meditation, resting in alaya means reminding myself of the present, the suchness of right now.  And now.  And now.

‘aren’t you done with this yet
you have so many important things to do check your emails
see if silvina has answered you’

Okay, okay, today the monkey is right.
I DO have a lot of business to attend to and am running late!

‘be sure to tell them good luck getting rid of me . . . ‘

In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open to the feed becoming
a debate for people to nitpick Buddhism or my interpretations of Buddhist concepts.
(There are lots of places for debates.)  I am more interested in hearing about
YOUR life or how the lojong affected you or your practice awakening in some manner.
For more info about why, go here.


©D. Katie Powell.  My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back to zenkatwrites.  Art (unless stated) is also by me; please link to dkatiepowellart.


About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
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