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These are chanted regularly at my center at the beginning of weekly gatherings. Very good reflections for reducing attachment and better appreciating it when we do have good conditions.
I do a similar sort of thing when I get lost in thought. I come back to the feeling of the body more than the breath. The area that seems to draw me in is sort of the shoulders and upper torso, I kind of get the sense of it like a triangle of sorts and feel the weight of it, the sense of gravity pulling it down.
I've always had a hard time wrapping my head around this question for some reason. I think life has always just been life to me, I'm part of the slacker generation and tend to fit the mold. All I've ever really wanted is to be happy and I never really sought any purpose beyond that. So now having some knowledge about philosophy and all that I'm either an existentialist or an optimistic nihilist when it comes to meaning. Meaning I don't really look to the universe to offer my life meaning, I think it is up to us to give our life meaning.
There is a sutta where Buddha when asked what he is would only identify himself as awake, not deva or spirit or human.
On one occasion the Blessed One was traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya, and Dona the brahman was also traveling along the road between Ukkattha and Setabya. Dona the brahman saw, in the Blessed One's footprints, wheels with 1,000 spokes, together with rims and hubs, complete in all their features. On seeing them, the thought occurred to him, "How amazing! How astounding! These are not the footprints of a human being!"
Then the Blessed One, leaving the road, went to sit at the root of a certain tree — his legs crossed, his body erect, with mindfulness established to the fore. Then Dona, following the Blessed One's footprints, saw him sitting at the root of the tree: confident, inspiring confidence, his senses calmed, his mind calmed, having attained the utmost control & tranquility, tamed, guarded, his senses restrained, a naga. On seeing him, he went to him and said, "Master, are you a deva?"
"No, brahman, I am not a deva."
"Are you a gandhabba?"
"... a yakkha?"
"... a human being?"
"No, brahman, I am not a human being."
"When asked, 'Are you a deva?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a deva.' When asked, 'Are you a gandhabba?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a gandhabba.' When asked, 'Are you a yakkha?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a yakkha.' When asked, 'Are you a human being?' you answer, 'No, brahman, I am not a human being.' Then what sort of being are you?"
"Brahman, the fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a deva: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. The fermentations by which — if they were not abandoned — I would be a gandhabba... a yakkha... a human being: Those are abandoned by me, their root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.
"Just like a red, blue, or white lotus — born in the water, grown in the water, rising up above the water — stands unsmeared by the water, in the same way I — born in the world, grown in the world, having overcome the world — live unsmeared by the world. Remember me, brahman, as 'awakened.'
"The fermentations by which I would go
to a deva-state,
or become a gandhabba in the sky,
or go to a yakkha-state & human-state:
Those have been destroyed by me,
ruined, their stems removed.
Like a blue lotus, rising up,
unsmeared by water,
unsmeared am I by the world,
and so, brahman,
I find them both to be opposite sides of extreme views. It's all mind, it's all matter. I prefer Sam Harris and David Chalmers, they acknowledge the problems with mind only, how do we explain the findings of neuroscience? And the hard problem to materialism consciousness presents, neural firings aren't qualitatively identical to what it's like for the individual experiencing those firings.