In profound meditation, sages found, when consciousness is singularly focused that it is utterly withdrawn from the body’s senses, it enters a kind of singularity in which the awareness of a separate ego disappears. In this state, the supreme climax of meditation, the seers discovered a core of consciousness beyond time and change. They called it simply Atman, the Self.

 

— Eknath Easwaran

This is the third in the series on consciousness and world wisdom teachings. The reason for this series is to highlight the existence of historical literature and teachings elucidating how spirituality is bundled in with life and human existence. Here are the two previous posts:

The One-Two Combo of Wisdom Teachings and Nonduality

Codifying Consciousness

Humans have been meditating for thousands of years. Is meditation the only spirituality? No, of course not. It is a key element though.

Meditation is essentially the quest for understanding and meaning. It’s a way for humans to find their place both in a cultural and cosmical context. And it has the added dimension of self-understanding which leads to an improved life.

 

— Pamir Kiciman, from Why Do Humans Meditate?

Compare the opening quote to this one:

Today in the West, we access transcendental states largely by accident. Our minds may open when we’re hiking in the high mountains, in a near death experience, through transcendent art, during sexual orgasm, using psychedelic drugs, or attending the birth of a child.

 

— Jack Kornfield

It’s a very different way of going about things, isn’t it?! And meditation is many things. What do we mean by meditation?

Sometimes we use the word to mean emptying out or letting go. Sometimes we mean relaxation. However, the point of meditation practice is actually to rediscover our hidden neurosis and our hidden sanity at the same time.

 

— Chögyam Trungpa

There it is. Neurosis and sanity. Both hidden.

Elsewhere Chögyam Trungpa says about meditation: “It is seeing how we can relate with our already existing enlightened state.”

Sanity and enlightenment are already there. The world we live in as humans with bodies is fraught with neuroses. That’s alright. Because it’s just alright, and because there’s a way, a path, methodology to put neurosis on a track to sanity and even enlightenment.

Frozen by Vassilis Tangoulis
Frozen by Vassilis Tangoulis

Being human is a unique dilemma. There’s no getting around the fact that we’re trapped by existence itself, our desires, fears and ungiving approach to life. The body is a design which feels pain and ages. The mind suffers and adds to its suffering with certain mental patterns.

Pain is local to the body. Suffering is an existential condition. Both diminish human experience. At the same time, humanity creates incredibly beautiful and enduring works of art, literature, film and stunning feats of engineering and technology. There have been many great societies and cultures throughout history and the formulation of great ideals.

Yet we’re unable to wrap our intellect around certain truths:

By identifying with a particular name that belongs to a particular body and mind, the self begins the process of creating a separate identity. Add in a complex jumble of ideas, beliefs, and opinions, along with some selective and often painful memories with which to create a past to identify with, as well as the raw emotional energy to hold it all together, and before you know it, you’ve got a very convincing—though divided—self.

 

— Adyashanti

This division between sanity and neurosis, and enlightenment and accidental transcendental states is false ultimately, but real until we begin making different choices. Choices that expose us to other realities. Here’s one:

The fruit of meditation is not the absence of thoughts, but the fact that thoughts cease to harm us. Once enemies, they become friends.

 

— Bokar Rinpoche

We’re a dichotomy of opposing forces. The unity buried within our being can be found.

Authentic spiritual practices are systems that directly address the subject/object separation and question the false assumptions of the divided mind.

 

— Rodney Smith

We’re created whole and are whole at birth. That wholeness never goes away. It’s intact under all the fragments that living as humans with bodies on a physical planet inevitably generates.

Worse than the fragments is our identification with them.

We become the fragments. We believe we are the fragments. Essential healing takes place when motivated by positive or negative stimuli we find those teachings, practices and truths which enable us to pull back from the fragments and settle them and ourselves into the foundational unity of our being.

… what we were taught was to identify with our name. We were taught to identify with our birth date. We were taught to identify with the next thought that we have. We were taught to identify with all the memories our mind collects about the past.

 

— Adyashanti

How do we deprogram this creature we are with its craziness of dichotomies to express the Being we also are with its qualities of love, peace, joy and power?

That’s what life is designed to do. Bring out the gold in our nature. This is a natural learning curve even within the confines of worldly pursuits and societal norms. Life grows us. If we resist, things get harder and harder.

It’s certainly possible to be happy and successful within the periphery of a materialistic understanding of the universe and the meaning of life. Yet, there’s always one or more things that confound our understanding, make us small all over again, push us to the brink where our gold gets seriously tarnished.

Then we have to expand the knowledge base from which we draw. We can no longer rely only on what our parents instilled in us, our education, what we learn in relationships, lessons from the workplace and normal levels of personal growth. These are all valuable. They are part of life. They are each doorways to truth, but only if we’ve shifted our viewpoint.

Recognizing and opening to our true nature allows it to address us with its inherent richness, which is our true and rightful inheritance.

 

— Paul Levy


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