Unentangled Knowing [Audio]

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Unentangled Knowing by Guy Armstrong

We’ve talked quite a bit so far about the retreat about how the sense of self gets constructed and the ways that that binds us, and limits us, and ties us into suffering. And we’ve also sort of talked a little bit about the way out of that and ___ talked the other night on the third noble truth was a very clear and complete description of that possibility as described by the Buddha.

So in the talk this evening, I want to focus on both these aspects. Andrea described the construction of the self in some detail with depending on origination, ___ with the undoing of that with the talk on the third noble truth and I want to draw on both those themes.

These evening, really to point us even further in the direction of discovering freedom. I think this word freedom is a very powerful concept for us across the world. I think it evokes a very deep yearning in the human heart, and we see it applied inwardly through spiritual life in the teachings of the Buddha. We is it applied outwardly through so many movements for justice and equality, and into oppression.

And it strikes me in looking at the inner and outer expressions of this search for freedom. A couple of things, one, they both tend to be struggles. As you’re discovering here, the inner journey is not always easy, because we’re coming up against these inner forces. And if anyone finds who carries on this work outwardly, there are forces there that oppose us also.

And when we look closely, they’re basically the same forces. So for working outwardly, or we’re working inwardly, we’re confronted by the forces of greed, aversion and delusion. That’s the work that we’re trying to undo in the world in ourselves.

The one thing I find really interesting is those people who try to change the world in the most effective seem to do it by recognizing the unity of the outer work and inner work. So I’m thinking of people like Dr. King and his works in the civil rights movement, and ___ who’s a very strong meditator and his work inside Burma. I think Nelson Mendela who’s spirituality who’s forged to those many years in prison. And I think about Cesar Chavez who formed the United Farm Workers Union in California in the 1960’s worked really very successfully to bring some basic rights to ___ the workers on the farms through strikes and the unity among his community. And he was also deeply rooted in spiritually. He was a devout Catholic. He often used masses and prayer meetings to build a sense of community and really solidarity among his co-workers. And I think his commitment and non-violence also came from his deep faith in the teachings of Jesus.

So these are some of the most effective leaders in the outer world that we’ve seen in our lifetimes and I think it’s very significant that marriage of the inner and outer in all those cases.

So here, we’re primarily involved in the inner work and I think this question of freedom is equality important to us as an inward journey as it is in an outer form. And one of the things I want to ask about this quality of inner freedom is where is it? And will you know it when you find it? And I think we may not, which is why I raised the question.

I think sometimes its staring us in the face and we may be overlooking it. So I want to tease out a little bit of that in the talk tonight. How can we recognize it when it comes? Because if we think that freedom is only found in the complete ending of greed, aversion, delusion, that might not happen tonight. That part is a long piece of work. Long struggle.

But perhaps, there’s a way that we can experience freedom in our practice here now and in doing that, come to taste some of the fruit in an immediate sense. And if we can, I think that can build a lot of confidence. That we’re gaining the fruit of the practice, which the Buddha pointed to as we go, as we journey.

So the subject of the talk tonight is Unentangled Knowing, and this is a term from a Thai teacher named ___. She was a laywoman who taught from the 1950’s up until her death in 1078. She used this term “unentangled knowing,” which I think is a great pointing. This word is a little tricky perhaps if you’re not a native English speaker. Tangle refers to the twisting of balls of yarn as when cats play with them, or someone’s long hair when they go for a ride in a convertible. The knots and ___ that happen when different strands come together. Entangled is the verb, meaning to make that happen. And the un- in front of it means we’re not allowing that to happen. So we’re not allowing the tangle to form.

This image of the tangle occurs in the Buddhist teachings a lot. I just mentioned a couple from the ___. Here’s one from the ___: The world is smothered, and enveloped by craving like a tangled ball of yarn. I like this quote, because it points to the way that different of our desires conflicts with each other. And when we try to follow them both, we get tangled up. Simple example. We want to be liked and we want to do our own thing. What do we do for those conflicts? Ah! We’re caught! We’re in a conflict.

This is a lovely quote. This quote comes from the ___ and was used as the beginning of the ___ – that ___ commentary on meditation practices. It is a quote of a questionnaire coming to the Buddha in his lifetime, addressing him by his family name, which many people did if they weren’t disciples which was ___.

A tangle inside and a tangle outside.

This generation is entangled in a tangle.

So I ask ___ this question:

Who succeeds in this entangling this tangle?

It’s a great question huh?

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About the author 

Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at Sean@MindfulnessExercises.com

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