Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Meditation

They say you will only start to practice meditation when the time is right for you. And everyone’s moment to begin is of course different. The awareness of the value and the increase in the practice of meditation has grown alongside the pace of change and rising levels of stress over the last two decades. And yet it seems very few will leave the average meditation seminar or course and determinedly build meditation practice into their day-to-day life. Many would like to because they are attracted by the idea and its promise. But they are not prepared to transfer their time and attention away from something that they still perceive as ‘more important’. They are likely to be addicted to action. Others do try and find it hard. It doesn’t yield quick measurable benefits so they give up quite soon. They are still addicted to their impatience and expectations of instant results. They don’t even clear the first hurdle which is the realisation and acceptance that. “I have the habit of impatience and the anxiety is damaging the quality of my life”.

Others do experience some fairly quick results like increased relaxation and a quieter mind. But as they continue they find many thoughts and feelings arising from their subconscious that are not so pleasant and quickly return to the distractions of the ‘world’ in order to avoid those feelings. Then there are those who realise meditation is not just something else to be ‘done’, not something ‘extra’ to be fitted into their daily routine. Although they don’t really understand the mechanics and the mechanisms of meditation they intuitively know it is a beneficial practice and being patient with their own impatience is necessary! They realise meditation is just a word for a process that is better described as ‘consciously cultivating self awareness’, not self consciousness as in self obsession, but self awareness as in seeing and understanding ones true nature and exactly what is blocking it.

With patient and persistent practice they will translate the ideas and theories of meditation practice into personal insight and realisation. And as they do they will likely notice a marked deepening of inner peace, an ability to tolerate situations and people that before seemed intolerable, and an acceptance of the world the way it is instead of trying to ‘fix it’. They will eventually see meditation isn’t about meditation, it’s about being aware of the unseen seer that sees, it’s about knowing that the knower who seems to know, doesn’t! And eventually they realise meditation has only one destination which is not in time or space, not there or then, not even being here and now, but just…being. And when that inner state is recovered all action, all ‘doing’, that flows from that state of being creates harmony in the world.

Along the way the practicing meditator can expect, but should not desire, to also ‘see’ i.e. realise the following.

You are not your mind

While you have a mind you are not your mind. What appears on your mind is a reflection of the world. And just as a reflection on a mirror is not real but just a reflection of the world, so what appears on your mind is not the deepest reality. You are the deepest reality and all that shows up on your mind is just a series of images, ideas, memories and concepts. All come to pass, and pass they do! All are as insubstantial as the clouds in the sky behind which the sun is always shining. Similarly, the reality of the ‘real self’ lies behind the clouds of ideas and thoughts that may appear on the mind. Suffering begins when the sun thinks it is the clouds i.e. when the self believes it is the thoughts and ideas that are on the mind. This is often referred to as attachment.

Your ‘karma’ is simply your attachment to your memories

The word karma is used in many ways so it’s meaning is often lost. Essentially it is the self-attaching to past actions, filtering the world through those memories and allowing decisions and actions in the present to be skewed by those actions of the past. As your self-awareness grows through the practice of meditation you will notice how the past plays a significant role in your day-to-day thinking and decision-making. You will start to see that actions of the past are memories that act as filters and lenses within your consciousness keeping you stuck in habits of perceiving and thinking and therefore doing. Eventually you will notice one of the deepest dimensions of the past is the belief system that you have absorbed, recreated and now subconsciously cling to. It is these beliefs that give rise to any negative thinking and all stress. It is the self’s attachment to these beliefs that cloud its vision of what is true and keep it stuck in illusion. Acting from illusion is out of synch with what is real, resulting in discomfort and the ‘attraction’ of events and circumstances which are not too pleasant. Hence the saying when something seems to happen to someone, “It must be your karma”

The world out there is not as it seems because it’s not ‘out there’

As you learn to look inwards you will gradually or suddenly become aware that the ‘real’ world is not out there, it’s in here and that you create the world that seems to be ‘out there’ in here, according to your state of being. You will notice that when your mood is negative then whatever you bring into your consciousness from the world out there you will create according to that mood. That’s why sometimes you like being with another person even when they are not so pleasant, while at other times you can’t stand being around them. Its not them it’s you. It’s the way you create them in your self that is the cause of their being tolerable one minute and intolerable the next. Obviously when this is fully realised by the self and is no longer just another idea in an article like this, it has huge potential to transform the quality of your life.

The world inside and out is simply a play of light and colour

In meditation you will come to see and know your self as you really are, as consciousness and not form, as ‘self’ and not the body you occupy, you will begin to notice the whole game of life is just a play of light and sound and colour. A marvellous ‘show’ put on by the human race; by human beings who believe they are their form. From identification with the form we occupy comes labels and boundaries, territories and positions, acquisition and attachment, games of control and manipulation, misery and suffering. All of these apparent phenomena within the game of life stem from one single belief, which in meditation is clearly seen to be a mistake i.e. ‘I am the form that I occupy’. This belief generates the idea that love and happiness are material acquisitions and dependent on ones form. Suffering and sadness, anger and fear, separation and division must follow this mistake. We believe life comes with these ‘emotional ingredients’ and we will even justify our experience of them by calling them ‘natural’. Which really means we don’t understand properly why we suffer, get sad, become upset and want to start warring with others. But these painful states all collapse and dissolve when, in the practice of meditation, during the cultivation of self-awareness, there is the realisation “I am not my name or form”. All the other labels upon which we invested our identity fall away, all division ends. Eventually all desire dissolves and sadness becomes impossible because there is in truth ‘nothing’ that you can possess so there is ‘no thing’ you can lose. And so the wars in your mind, where all wars begin, come to an end. And you realise your form, like your home, is but a temporary dwelling, like your car, it is your vehicle, it is not you.

The idea of peace is not peace and peace treaties are irrelevant

As it becomes easier to see life as a play of light and colour, a series of passing scenes and multidimensional dramas played out by those who still believe ‘things’ are important, you will notice your true nature re-emerging into your awareness. And you will see and feel that peace is not something separate from you, it’s no longer a neat idea, it is what you are. Not the peace that can appear at the end of an argument, not a peace that shows up after someone has died, not a peace that defines a treaty between two warring parties. But a real deep, powerful, profound peacefulness, that lives at the very core of your being. A peace that cannot be diminished, only lost to your awareness. A peacefulness that does not need to think about anything but is able to respond appropriately, peacefully but not passively, to all that happens around it, which means around you. And you will notice that only when that peace is present is it possible for true love to emerge like a shy and hesitant child into the light of your awareness.

Nothing real ever changes

In time, with practice, you will see through all that changes and realise it is unreal, and that there is a deeper reality within you that never changes. And that deeper reality is you. You will be able to sit quietly and watch the world around you ‘out there’ change and not be affected by it. You will notice your body changing and not be affected by it. You will notice your mind changing, thoughts changing, feelings changing and not be affected by it. You will see others behaviours changing, often quite violently, and not be affected by it. Nothing will affect you because you realise it is what is meant to be in that moment. In this moment you will know your self as you are, the one who watches, the one who observes everything except your self. And you will notice there is a game called change, otherwise known as life, happening around you. And it’s just a game. And that you are both in the audience and on the stage. And because you realise it’s just a game, a multidimensional drama, a brilliantly scripted play, nothing will surprise you, nothing will be more important than anything else and you will no longer have any preferences.

And in that moment you might ‘feel’ as if you have come home.

Between where you are now and that moment there is likely to be a battle with your addiction to your emotions. You will fight and resist many of these ideas above believing life will be boring, empty and almost flatlining if you are just watching, just being at peace, just observing life come and go. And you will likely interpret the ‘ideas’ within these kinds of insights as a threat to your ‘emotional drugs’, to your dramas, to the ups and downs which seem to be a ‘natural’ part of living. It’s only when you’ve had enough of them, only when you are tired of your own emotional rollercoaster ride through life, that you are likely to sit down and seriously explore something called meditation. Only then will you begin to see and feel the benefit in cultivating self awareness, in sitting in a state of quiet reflection, in being more and doing less, in seeing how you create all your discomforts.

And that’s why the ‘moment’ you sit down, be quiet and surrender to becoming more self aware will be the sane moment that cease to be indifferent to your own suffering.

Next Week: How to meditate and cultivate self-awareness for your SELF of your SELF!

Question: Which of the above realisation/insight do you feel you recognise and understand most clearly and which one is the ‘greyest’.

Reflection: What do you sense stops you building some regular meditation/reflection into your life – what is your inner addiction?

Action: Stop for three minutes three times a day this week and just watch.

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Approach to teaching

Methods there are many, principles but few, methods often change, principles never do