Posted inHenry's Messages, Meditations

Message from Henry: Concentration

May 24, 2016

In truth, nothing needs to change. All things are equally the Dharma unfolding


At some point the resistance, the need to control the experience we have in meditation, just evaporates. It’s gone. Instead, rather than being outside it and trying to manipulate it, we find ourselves right in our experience, When we do, it feels good. A moment ago we may have been frustrated with a recurring need to sneeze, or a wandering mind, or by whatever — now, it’s not a problem at all. The way things are is in itself nourishing, fascinating.

The key is, we don’t need to change things. Whatever we deem to be problems or obstacles in meditation, are in fact the very fuel of it, the food of practice. Just let that thought run through your mind, even if you don’t believe it, and see what happens in your next sitting.

In truth, nothing needs to change. All things are equally the Dharma unfolding. The way to experience them that way is to welcome them and attend to them. That’s how we enter samadhi — or meditative absorption. It’s less by getting rid of what we deem to be distractions, and more by being absorbed by them. Once we drop the resistance to them, and enter them, we find samadhi is a matter of experiencing the very same phenomena that we thought we didn’t want, but in a qualitatively more intimate way.


Samadhi is good for us. It feels good. It’s nourishing and rewarding. It’s also oddly cathartic.

Aristotle used the word cathartic to account for the fact that people enjoyed going to see tragedies in the Athenian theater. Why did they like to watch disasters and tragedy befall characters? Because, he said, it heightened the emotions of pity and fear, and cleansed or purged the viewer of them (katharizein, in Greek).

I’ve just been reading an essay by Shinzen Young in which he says that “flow,” by which he means something like samadhi, is cathartic too. In fact, it’s arguable that all sitting is cathartic. No matter how distracted or distressed we may be during a sit, if we dig in and stick with it, for the duration of time we have resolved to do, there’s a high chance we will get up feeling somewhat cleansed.

Message from Henry taken from our May 23, 2016 Newsletter
Image: Water Droplet, by Skeeze, CC0 Public Domaine, from

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