August 9, 2021
“Sati is not heavy, not harsh, not rigid. It is supple, light, invisible. It has not flavor of its own. It is uncontracted, unmanipulative attention that allows phenomena to arise and pass according to their own nature without the tethers of reactivity and control.”
—Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey, Insurgent Heart
There’s a fascinating dharma book available on Kindle called Insurgent Heart: A Vipassana Manual for the Guerrilla Yogi. Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey is a student of Michele McDonald, who invented the RAIN acronym. Jesse teaches vipassana in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw.
The book is unique in that it reclaims the martial metaphors of the Buddhist canon with a surprisingly apt twist: he uses asymmetrical guerrilla warfare as an analogy for Buddhist meditation in lay life. It’s a fun and refreshing approach and a counterbalance to the many earnest and sometimes anodyne dharma books out there.
What really interests me about Jesse’s book is the emphasis on being with experience as it is. This means not manipulating energy and attention to produce jhanas etc. The emphasis is on mindfulness and building our capacity to witness any sensations as they arise and pass. As Jesse observes, there will come a day when we will no longer be able to control the conditions of our lives nor our mental state. Our only refuge then will be our capacity to be with experience.
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