Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Way of True Practice


When I first began to meditate, I didn't really know why I was doing it.  I knew that my mind felt anxious and that I was suffering as a result.  Actually, at that time I didn't even have a sophisticated enough understanding of how my body worked to be able to say "my mind feels anxious."  I was anxious, was anxiety itself.  This I knew for sure.  Life always seemed like an unbearable daily struggle; naturally, a person can't be happy under such conditions.  I imagined there must be happiness somewhere inside of me but was unable to identify what real happiness means—or is.

That was over 20 years ago now.  During this period of time my practice has changed quite dramatically.  (Which of course is to be expected and is common over the lifestream of a Truth Seeker.)

In the beginning, I tried working with a mantra that was given to me as part of my "initiation" into Transcendental Meditation.  This particular practice didn't last very long because the mantra felt utterly unsuited to me, foreign; as a busy university student, I also had trouble with the prescribed 20 minutes 2x a day schedule.  For different kinds of reasons, what TM offered in terms of an understanding about the "what" and "why" of meditation wasn't a good fit for my nature.  However, this earlier practice had value.  Because of it, I began the beautiful and challenge-filled pursuit of aligning my way of being with the deepest truths inside me.  At the very least, I was convinced that meditation could help me to become familiar with what those deepest truths actually were!

For the next ten years or so, I did all kinds of spiritual practices.  I tried Zenning out, and making peace.  I purified my kundalini and cleansed all seven chakras.  I rode the vibratory frequencies of alternate dimensions.  By the light of the moon I called in St. Germain, who must have descended to my aid with a retinue of winged children by his side... I know this because of the incredible feeling of expansion in my sacrum.

I alternated recitation of my prayers to Jesus—the go-to remnants of a Christian childhood—with pranayama breathwork.  I learned the words "purusha" and "prakriti" and "vasana."  I was sattvic in word and deed most of the time, except when my gunus were imbalanced.  I became a Bodhisattva.  I became a karma yogi.  I became a renunciate.  I became an athiest.  I became a Goddess.  I fell in love with my pain.  I married God.  I stopped meditating because there is no meditator.  I stopped saying "I" because there is no self.

As you can see, I kept pretty busy.  It's almost the same story as yours probably.  (Yes, the chapters or flavours may be different.  We need that to keep us on our toes and interesting to each other...)

The big problem in this early stretch of the journey was that my practice was loaded with friction because I didn't know who I was.  Nobody told me.  None of the techniques I tried were delivered (by others) nor enacted (by me) with a clear picture of what I already am and always have been, which is the only thing that should matter to the meditator.  They were based on the philosophy that something was missing, that I had to improve myself, that I had to enhance or get rid of something, that I wasn't complete.  That there was something I could do to rectify this dire state of affairs.  And this had the backwards effect of entrenching and perpetuating the original anxiety.  Anyone can agree that, above all, a person doesn't meditate to inadvertently get more anxious!

If someone had told me there is nothing I can do about the fact that I already always AM, I would have learned to relax a long time ago.  I would have sat in peace.

Every school of meditation gave me a technique sold as a means of reaching a place or state called heaven or enlightenment or liberation or self-realization.  They all made me think I needed to put my attention on something foreign to myself.  None of them could convey deeply enough that the immediate moment's ever-present enlightened nature can be confirmed by just sitting and quietly LOOKING at it; nor did they impart that this truth is confirmable in such an unimaginably simple manner because "the immediate moment" (a.k.a. life, the universe, existence etc.) cannot be other than what "I" am—which, by the way, is a pretty BIG PICTURE reality that I might want to be paying attention to.

This information I should have had from the start.  It would have saved a lot of time and hardship.  It's probably the same for you.  But according to eternally mysterious factors, for most of us "that's just the way the cookie crumbles" in this game of leela.  We usually suffer for a few decades until we can't stand ourselves anymore and finally surrender all our effort and guilt and petty arrogance and hopes and fears to the Big Picture that's always here—the Infinite and Magical Immediate Moment, the Unknowable Knowledge, the Self... One's Own Ever-Present Being.

This surrender becomes not an isolated act or an event, but a never ending process of authentic self-discovery.  It is why the meditator meditates.  Expressing this is our fundamental, direct concern.  It is our only business in the chair or on the cushion.

In Zen, this was called the Family Business.  "The Family Business" is more inclusive than Zen, closer than any tradition, subtler than any teaching, purer than any person, bigger than any concept.  At a certain stage of meditation practice, one recognizes oneself as a sincere practitioner of the Family Business by becoming free of all that.  The meditator learns to stop importing somebody else's words, regurgitating them over and over until turning blue in the face—and sad in the heart.  She or he learns that Silence is the only true teacher and, in Quiet Sitting, stays still and patient in the midst of It.  He or she lives trusting in himself or herself.  She knows that she is Life Itself, which is beauty and wonder and grace.  He gives his love, his devotion, his energy and focus to This.  They Sit.  We Sit.

Sitting Sits.  Quietly.  Humbly.  Consistently.  Earnestly.  This is the legacy of the Ancestors who have so generously communicated how they had to leave all concepts behind and just be.  We take their encouragement to the chair or cushion, into the whole of our lives.  This reveals the boundlessness of the universe, the infinity of the Immediate Moment, the unity of all things—this that is saying "I."

This is the way of true Practice.

  

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Infinite SIZE - Part 2


Dear Readers,

I'm thinking that it's time to spend some more time figuring out the world of Blogging.  If anyone has any creative ideas for me, I welcome them!  I'd like to develop a blog that reflects the SIZE of what it is we're talking about here, which is the size of what one actually is.  You, I mean.  What you are and the presently here billions of endless galaxies cannot be "two."  It's impossible.

So that's what I'll be writing about more and more.  Mostly because my Teacher thinks I should.  But also partly because I see very little out there in the way of the written word that communicates what the Dharma of Today is truly about.  

The Dharma of Today has nothing to do with yesterday.  It has nothing to do with traditions or sutras, fancy robes or pointy hats.  Stephen Hawking has said something to the effect of: "We don't need spirituality anymore.  We have facts."  So you could say that the Dharma or Spirituality of Today is simply about this.  Facts.  If you don't base your spiritual life in facts, what value could it possibly have?

So let's start with the fact that the universe is infinite.  The fact is we now have the Hubble and our own (in Canada) Chris Hadfield, taking pictures in every conceivable direction and confirming that there is no beginning or ending to this incredible majestic mind-blowing Moment.  Science is becoming our greatest ally in our conscious surrender to the magic that's spinning our own trillions of cells, the same magic that's breathing us and digesting our food and thinking our thoughts and doing all the other things that make up the "me" package.  It's the same magic that has the capacity to perceive "me" as a separate thing, a perceptual twist generated by the Magic Itself.  So if you look at any photo of the galaxies you can simply realize: "I am actually this big (!), never limited by my conception of myself as a discreet entity."

We didn't have these aids a couple of thousand years ago when people like Jesus and the Buddha were telling us "Everything is True Nature" and "The Kingdom of Heaven is Within."  Unfortunately, out of Jesus' teachings we somehow got the concept of original sin, and out of the Buddha's teachings we got "life is suffering."  A lot of persuasive black magic got thrown in over these years of religious fervor, and now you can check out the planet to see the results in humanity's behaviour.  As it stands, we're the only species that doesn't act normal and natural on this precious life-bearing orb we inhabit.

If you look at yourself though a telescope or microscope, where is original sin?  Where is suffering?  In actual fact, Life Itself is free of all this.  Sin is a ridiculous, small concept of the thinking mind, and suffering is the consequence.  And this "karma"—the whole hamster wheel of sin and suffering—is happening only inside the human animal's brain, which tragically hasn't learned to check out a photo from the Hubble and apply what it sees to the fact of what the word "I" refers to.  It hasn't been presented with an image like the one below and contemplated on it for a few seconds.  If it did, everything would become instantly "normal" again.




In this Here-Now Moment, the word "I" is said by the universe—to, for and by Itself.  That's it.  When an astronomer looks through a telescope, this is all he or she is studying.  When a biologist or a farmer-gardener digs into the dirt, this is all she or he is nurturing.  When a meditator sits, this is all this person needs to remember.

And it never ends, you see.  The Infinite is the Infinite.  I Am This.  We can "look" at This forever.

The SIZE of the Moment cannot be imagined by the thinking mind, which is why we confirm what we are by being still... by keeping quiet.

BE STILL is the Dharma of Every Day.  This is the biggest possible concept.  The simplest.  It leads to the recognition that no concept can ever in any way alter what you are.  And through it, the entire Cosmos effortlessly flows.