I always finish my meditation with some reflections: after 20 minutes of mental silence and peace, I present to such mind some difficult question, like “what is time?”, “what is ‘evolution’ “? “what is the relationship between our inner observer and the whole”? etc. and then I remain silent, trying to see, catch, receive some information about the question, without any intellectual activity, only listen, so to speak. Is a “reflective meditation“.
Sometimes, not always, acting in this way, I really receive some insights, and sometimes, then, I try to write it here, you know, is not easy transcript an insight in words. It has happened sometimes that when I look for some more information about an insight, I find it described in an old tradition, maybe the Upanishads, maybe the Kybalion, etc. In such times, of course, I feel excited, seeing a coincidence between my intuitions and the intuitions of writers occurred centuries ago.
One of the most lucid and powerful insights I have had was the existence of an Universal Mind pervading everything, in fact, all around us, even ourselves, are pure energy which it is given material form through Nature Laws (like gravity, nuclear forces, etc); such laws are information, like a program in a computer, and the execution of such program is the task of a Mind. Even our individual mind, hosted on our brain, is governed for laws executed by a Mind, as I explained in a mind inside a Mind. I know such statements can sound incredible, but partly are based on Physics science; Bernard d’Espagnat, a physicist who was very interested for the nature of reality, wrote is their book “In Search of Reality:
…the contributions of physics are essential to achieve a valid world view, not superficial and not arbitrary, overcoming excessively naive or animists representations. Bernard d’Espagnat
Espagnat proposes that “reality” is essentially non-physical, and physical phenomena we observe only be explained by assuming the existence of the Self. He won the Templeton Prize for religion, and in the nominating letter, we can read “Espagnat has constructed a coherent body of work which shows why it is credible that the human mind is capable of perceiving deeper realities.” So, why is not possible in our times a person reflecting daily were capable of find the same insights that thinkers of old times also found centuries ago?
Some days ago, I was reflecting on the nature of the “inner witness” that all the meditators, in all the world and all times, has detected; our inner witness has no dimensions, is not physic, but at the same time has potentialities: awareness, perfect pure loving-kindness-peace, and pure energy; why such high being is collapsed for layers of matter, becoming unaware of himself? That was my question. And the insight was:
like a seed is potentially a tree, but needs to be buried in the ground for become stimulated to grow, like the intimate contact of the seed with the soil awakes the potentialities of the seed for become a tree, so the soul needs to be buried in the mind and in the matter for become stimulated to grow as a radiant being who knows himself as He is.
Like all the authentic insights do, this one also shocked me with the realization of a truth, beyond any intellectual rumination. We are seeds growing in the soil of mind and matter … wow! Then, as I always do, I look for some information related to my insight. Then, I remembered have read long time ago, about twenty years ago, an old book about the creation and evolution of life belonging to the school of thought named Theosophy, such book is about the subtle bodies, I found it in the Internet for free downloading : The Causal Body & The Ego – by Arthur E Powell, Theosophical Press, 1928. And I found there some writing related to my insight:
… we must note the origination of the Monads, or units of consciousness, for whose evolution in matter the field of a universe is prepared. (…) The Monad of Theosophy, is the Jivatma of Indian Philosophy, the Purusha of the Samkya, the particularised Self of the Vedanta.
So there are “Units of consciousness” evolved thanks to be immersed in a material, physic Universe. More on that:
These units of Consciousness, (…) who have not yet been –”made perfect through suffering”. Each of them, is truly “equal to the Father as touching his Godhead, but inferior to the Father as touching his manhood”, in the words of the Athanasian Creed. Each of them is to go forth into matter in order “to render all things subject to himself” [ 1 Corinthians xv. 28]. He is to be “sown in weakness” that he may be “raised in power” [ibid.xv.43]. From a static condition unfolding all divine potentialities, he is to become dynamic, unfolding all divine powers.
At this point of my read, I became too shocked, too may coincidences with my insights, so I stopped and returned to my daily tasks, it was too strong for assimilate in so little lapse of time. But anyway I’m writing here about all. Next days I’ll continue reflecting about the topic, slowly, unhurried, because such high knowledge needs a calm, fresh and opened mind.
The evolution of species has endowed us, the human species, the quality of developing a sense of individuality, the quality feeling ourselves as someone separated from the rest of our environment. At physiological level this ability is related to brain region called the neocortex, which also have all mammals, but in our species is especially developed.
From birth we have a potential for individualization, to be “someone” separated from the outside world. As the person physically developing from childhood, adolescence, reaching adulthood, personality is formed, that is, a psychological “construct“. Then the innate potential of individualization uses personality to create the illusion of the existence of a separate, autonomous individual, an individual separated from the external environment.
We say illusion because personality is a more or less unstable web of ideas and memories: the person is not really their personality, but has a personality. Clear here there is a certain contradiction in terms: “person” comes from the Greek próposon, and referred to the mask worn by actors in Greek drama theater; clearly this mask shapes how the actor is shown, the person is the mask, personality, his performance, but the actor is not any mask.
But what really makes us individuals is not any personality, but the ability to be individuals; we are individuals as we have the ability to be, the personality is built, and is renewed day by day as an expression of that innate ability.
Meditation on the ability of individuality
The mind has, among its many wonderful qualities, a particularly curious one: it is able to observe itself, as in a mirror, using the functionality we call attention, the ability to focus the mind on an object, whether physical either mental. Attention is usually either serving our thoughts or abroad if we are doing an activity that requires it. But we can train to serve one’s mind, delving beyond personality, reaching the bottom of the mind.
Level 1: relaxing body and mind
For a “standard” person, that is, a very busy one with an endless list of occupations, concerns, problems, etc., to divert attention from the thoughts can be difficult. That is why the first step must be to calm the mind, let her relax, but without losing the attention; thus we freed from his bonds attention. There are many useful methods to achieve this first stage, we will not talk about them here, just mention one of the oldest and most effective, besides simple: abdominal conscious breathing, which focus attention on the breathing process, to be be slow and relaxing.
Level 2: mindfulness
If we get some ability to stop the mind and yet maintain the active attention, without falling into drowsiness, we are ready to start the next most advanced stage: draw attention to the back of the mind, seeking to connect with our potential for individualization, trying to “see” with our attention without intermediaries. It is a process that can take months or years, but for us we have that possibility exists, and has been reported by numerous testimonies.
Even without fully complete attention-deep, the practice produces remarkable effects. When training such attention, we have the ability to direct or stop direct the focus at will, regardless of thoughts or external events. When we are able to direct attention at will, we can be aware of anything inside or outside, without thinking about it: is a state called mindfulness. There are currently a lot of literature about mindfulness, and mindfulness meditation, but indeed mindfulness is a state of the attention, not a meditation: you can reach the state of mindfulness through any meditation technique, once it has worked enough. We will not discuss here the benefits of such a state, because as we have already mentioned there a lot of literature. Mindfulness has also been described as an end, as a goal, but in fact it is merely an intermediate step in the process of self-knowledge and self-realization, a state that must be achieved before accessing deeper levels of self-knowledge.
Level 3: connecting with our deep self, self-realization
If the person really has a compelling need to know, to know himself until the very end, then he can continue working, deepening attention, looking for the source of the individual, seeking to live, feel, just the sheer ability to be someone, beyond any intellectual content. It is a very interesting process, because as we discussed is the mind itself that directs its focus beyond any object, whether physical or mental. A priori it seems a contradiction, that the mind is able to know a primary potential that is not related to anything, but with training and perseverance the goal can be achieved, and have done so many truth seekers of different traditions.
That ability to be someone is in itself a potential self, but a self do not leaning on anything, is a “self creator”, that from the experiences of life is surrounded by a personality through which it is expressed. But the inner self is not any expression, is no expression, is pure “selfhood”.
When the mind connects with the pure potential of individuality we gradually realize we are somebody regardless of external circumstances, need not identify with anything outside to be somebody. In fact, absolutely everything that exists becomes external to the self: the person focuses on the deep I, and from there she “see” both inside world and outside world. As a result, absolute freedom of thought and action is experienced, because by not identify with anything regardless of all is achieved. Also, you are somebody, and that somebody is indestructible, no matter what happens: an unusual mental and emotional stability is achieved. The mind is always calm, not only during daily minutes of meditation; as a result the emotions are soft and positive, negative emotions do not fit in a calm mind and a trained attention. Fears also disappear because the person knows she is indestructible, being someone beyond body and mind.
Desires and knowledge
According to the ancient Vedas, we have a soul, and such soul has four distinct desires. The first is dharma, the desire to fully become who we were meant to be, the longing to achieve our highest state of well-being to fulfill our destiny. The second desire is artha, the desire for the material means (money, health) necessary for fulfill our dharma. The third desire is kama, the longing for pleasure in any and all forms. The fourth is moksha, the desire to be free from the burdens of the world, experiencing spirit, to achieve lasting peace and a state beyond the reach of the other three desires.
The more separated from the whole we feel, the more egoistic will be our desires. Our knowledge of the world depends on our mind (manas), and also the fulfilment of our desires; when the mind is exclusively dedicated to fulfil egoistic desires, the knowledge is lower, indeed is ignorance. One of the schools of classical Yoga, Jnana Yoga, aims to develop higher, true knowledge. Is the way suitable for intellectual people. In ordinary people mind is so dedicated to fulfil selfish desires than become entangled with them, making a mess named kama-manas, “desire-mind”.
A short tale
Once upon a time, in the Indian part of Punjab region, there was a young promising teacher of University, doing his post-doctoral stage: Harmanpreet, who was both a very clever man but also a follower of ancient traditions, he meditated every morning for half an hour and also use to read spiritual books. Moreover, he had a mystic temperament, he can feel joy deeply and also he can feel sorrow very deeply, more deeply than the average person, because they was more sensitive and clever. Harmanpreet was also an amorous man, that is, strongly disposed to romantic love, considered for him the highest form of love while we are in the world. He had fallen in love sometimes since their adolescence, but nothing serious.
It was the first year in the University for Advita, a girl belonging to the low Indian caste named Shudras. Her family was a very conservative one, but also they had a strong ambition, a will of become respected in spite of their caste; the father was a respected engineering, and he wanted all their sons and also daughters had also a career, and a good job. In the Hindu tradition Advita was starting to be marriageable, so their parents started to think about, despite she was not interested at all in such subject, she was only nineteen years old.
It happens that Advita felt attracted by Harmanpreet, one or her teachers; he was so polite and clever … Soon she look for him in Facebook and ask him friendship. Harmanpreet wondered a bit, is not usual such event, a student asking friendship with a teacher, but at last he accepted. Next night, after dinner, while Harmanpreet was working on his laptop, Advita opened a chat with him, and ask him about some academic topics, starting a chat that prolonged for two hours; the two young talked about music, travels, movies, etc etc. When chat was over, Harmanpreet felt a smooth excitation, a sense of happiness, it was a very nice chat. Next weeks such chats became common, strengthening the new friendship. Slowly, almost unwittingly, such chats became the most desired times of the day. In classroom both kept their composure, they greet with a smile, no more.
At last Harmanpreet noticed he was deeply in love with Advita, a love strong and deeper than any other he was experienced before, so he started to make plans: he imagined being presented to her parents, who sure would be happy because he was a promising teacher, also imagined a very happy, joyful life. But when the young teacher opened their heart to Advita, problems started: their parents never will let her marry with somebody that was not their own choice, arranged with the family; even more, both young was of different castes: Harmanpreet was a brahmin, the higher caste, while Advita was a Shudra, low caste. Advita’s parents was against mixed caste marriages. Being Advita educated in obedience and respect, also considering family the most important thing it the life, any dating with Harmanpreet was closed.
So Advita started to avoid Harmanpreet, chats was over, even she didn’t greet him at class, ignoring him, although she also loved him. When Harmanpreet accepted such way, ignoring her, then the girl felt stupid herself, and looked for him with her best sonrisa, trying to keep the friendship, then Harmanpreet regained hope, trying to go further, causing the reaction of Advita, who moved away again. Such cycle happened and happened, causing a lot of suffering to Harmanpreet, who even felt ill, feverishly.
He started to meditate in the situation, reflecting, even contemplating the situation, looking for relief. While meditating, he stopped their mind from wandering, and contemplating the facts from a mindfulness state. One day he was contemplating the fact: “when I try to get close to her, following my strong desire for her, she go further, and when we relax my desire, waiting nothing, then she returns, giving me their friendship“; suddenly he had an insight, “selfish desire for her is not love, on the contrary, my desire prevents her love” and at the same time, he noticed a strange feeling of let go, something released from him. At that very moment the longing for a romantic love was dissolved for the insight, because he realized passionate love was not the higher kind of love, indeed, the higher love is the unattached one, when we are able to give without expect anything in return: True Love is what remains when the selfish passion ends. And Harmanpreet ceased to suffering, entering in a peaceful loving state.
The desire that Harmanpreet felt was very strong indeed, covering the four Vedic desires: he experienced dharma, the longing to achieve their highest state of well-being and fulfill their destiny, thinking Advita was the way for achieve it; also he experienced artha, the desire for the material means, thinking about Advita as it; evidently he also experienced kama, the longing for pleasure, and until a certain point also experienced moksha, the desire to experiencing spirit, to achieve lasting peace, imagining he will feel the higher kind of love through Advita. After the insight, such desires became highly purified. Harmanpreet now only wants the best for Advita, also the best for all the people around; he himself had pure Love in their heart, waiting any chance for share it with anybody, without expectations. Such state is blissful. Harmanpreet is now a Jnana yogi, he has higher knowledge about life and love.
Human being has two dimensions. In one dimension, as a part of the whole, he is Nature, he is Universe, their personality is a creation of the Universe, and is in constant interchange, intercommunication with their environment; their body is matter, and their individual mind is also a product of the evolution, a product of the Nature. But besides that, human being also has an identity, an individuality; even with the constant interchange with all their environment, even continuously changing, something in him keeps him self-aware. The evolution of the identity of human being involves both dimensions, both directions: connecting with the environment and also developing the sense of be somebody beyond the environment.
Expansion of the identity: non duality
The former aspect is the phenomenological, the existencial one; the person lives it as if it were two different things: the objective world, outside them, and the subjective world, within them. Indeed, both things are subjective, because the person only can experience the contents of their individual consciousness; their mind divide their field of consciousness into separated zones, one zone is labelled as “I and my“, other zone is labelled as “not I, not mine“, but indeed all the stuff is in the same field, their own field of consciousness. We are not claiming here “there are not an objective external reality”, we are only saying that people only knows the objects into their consciousness, and such objects are made of all of their experiences and knowledge, but very often people don’t realize this fact, thinking about their own consciousness objects like they were external ones.
There are a possible evolution here: expanding the field of individual consciousness, integrating all their objects, searching relationships between them, and realizing the unity in the diversity of objects: all of them are contents of one unique field. This manifests itself as a progressive control of the outside world, as well as the need to organize that knowledge of the world within itself. Science is one of the ways of do it, trying to learn the way of being and working of things. We, as a human specie, are involved in such evolution.
In the same way, but going beyond, when the individual mind relax their classification of the objects of consciousness in categories “external” and “internal”, then all the objects of knowledge are seen in one unique field without added separations; as a result, the identity of the person, so far it identified with some of these consciousness objects (like my thoughts, ideas, body, etc.) experiences an expansion: the person now feels he is, in some way, all their objects of consciousness, without exclusions, he is in all, and all is in him. Indeed, in such state, the person identifies with their consciousness as a whole, not with any particular object; is a non-dual state of being: the subject and the object are the same.
Contraction of the identity: the ultimate self
There comes a time when the person realize he, as an identity, is not any thing, but a pure subject beyond any object or name. He is not their ideas, even he’s not their personality. Their ultimate identity is nothing, but a “nothing” that is pure power, potential energy. In their field of consciousness their ultimate identity appears like a non dimension point. Living from this deep point he feel the sensorial world as very far.
When the person develops such punctual awareness, realizing the ultimate subject, all the things become external to him, all are external objects, except himself who is subject. At the same time he realizes all he experiences is part of their own consciousness, so in some way, all the “external” objects are himself. So there are a motion: an expansion in which he recognises himself being all, and a contraction in which he lets go all and simply he is, no more. Usually the person lives in some point between such two extremes; the reality covers all, from one point to the whole. The personal reality, or field of personal consciousness, is like a flat Galaxy: there are a lot of matter, of things; we can live and even identify with some of them, or with other of them. In the middle of the field there are the nucleus of the Galaxy, our true identity. From this center we have perspective of all the field.
Higher dimensions of identity
Numerous testimonies from various places, traditions and times, testify is possible to expand our identity/awareness in other dimension, we can say a “vertical” dimension, in contrast to the “horizontal” one, of which we have spoken before. When the person is used to live as a “self” independently of the environment, including their emotions and thoughts, which now are lived like “external” to him, may spontaneously open to the Universal Self which is inside of all. He himself is like a little Universe, a Galaxy, surrounded by the whole Universe. And this Universe also has two facets: the objects and the subject; who is the ultimate subject? the Self, who is unique, existing in all, and at the same time transcending all. Then, he discover there are only one Self, expressing in some way as many.
Last week was not a good one for my wife, so also not for me: after two years of disease, she became worst. Slepless nights, worries, go to work with headache, and a sense of frustration , also negative thoughts, like “I can’t do anything more, I abandon, I can’t … etc”. I realized one thing is to be able for contact, for touch, our inner peace, which lives within us, always stable, always peaceful, and other thing is to be able of act and think positively in front of a storm. I can “visit” the peace, for rest, but the world still are a hard, dangerous site.
Family gathered for dinner, we usually watch TV, bad habit, I know it, but we do it. Watching a documentary about a filipino woman, married, poor, who went to Saudi Arabia for work as a cook in a house, the owner threatened her with a knife, rape her, she became pregant, then she had to escape from the country like a criminal due to the laws there, which condemn with jail any pregnant unmarried woman without further consideration … not a good documentary for improve mood.
Opening the doors of mind
Later, I scanned the channels looking for something better for my mood, and found a cartoon movie, “Prince of Egypt”, I have watched it yet, but I decided to stay for a while. The main character, Moses, is hosted in a desert tribe; he’s is discouraged, he feels his life is worthless, and the life has no sense. An old tribe sage noticed it, and started to sing:
A single thread in a tapestry
though its color brightly shines
can never see its purpose
in the pattern of the grand design
At this point I started to pay attention, because something resonates within me, my mind state was similar to Moses …
And the stone that sits up on the very top
of the mountain’s mighty face
doesn’t think it’s more important
than the stones that forms the base
Yeah , I think so, each of us has a role in this play that is life, and all are important …
So how can you see what your life is worth
or where your value lies
you can never see through the eyes of man
you must look at your life
look at your life through heaven’s eyes
Aha … but, what is “heaven’s eyes”? for me, is a look from an open, clean, illuminated mind. A little mind is always a closed one, watching only a little bit of the whole, but, in their ignorance, judging the whole based only on a small part. It was like a breath of fresh air for me. I “only” can love and support my wife, I can’t do any more, but is not a little value act at all, even seeing she are still bad.
Should a man lose everything he owns
has he truly lost his worth
or is it the beginning
of a new and brighter birth
Indeed, all the brutality of this world, the unfair laws, the oppression, brutality, wars, violence, etc, etc, are the expression of Natural laws through the human mind. Why on earth the mantis devours her consort? In Nature, the weak perish, nobody help the sick, nobody care the wounded, the hungry. Violence is a natural instinct. As a specie we already are rational animals: the instinct of the jungle lives within us, moving our thoughts; that’s why all the violence in our world, is the natural one but rationalized through our intellect. But also we have the ability of transcend our instincts, so our advanced societies offer protection for the weak, for the ill. Our potential is unlimited, because we have not only an intellect, but also a spiritual facet. Even now a days we the humankind have coined a new concept: spiritual intelligence, did you have heard it before? I think is really great that exist such concept, because it means our higher spiritual possibilities are no longer ill-defined, or just religious stuff, but clear concepts and, more important, skills we can develop.
No life can escape being blown about
by the winds of change and chance
and though you never know all the steps
you must learn to join the dance
you must learn to join the dance
Yeah, let’s dance, the dance of life, even unknowing all the steps, is the only way for learn to dance.
So how do you judge what a man is worth
By what he builds or buys
You can never see with your eyes on earth
Look through Heaven’s eyes, look at your life
Look at your life
Look at your life through Heaven’s eyes
In this post I transcribe some quotes uttered by the Zen master Berta Meneses in a lecture, including a personal brief comment.
An antidote for desire is freedom.
Since desire binds us to the objects of desire, making us dependent on them, so not free.
We don’t need solve our problems, we need dissolve them.
The “problems” really are generated in our mind in response to events that we do not like, so we oppose to the reality; relaxing mind these problems-ideas become dissolved, as a block of salt in water.
Let it be, let it go.
Let the One who dwells within us to express, let it be, and at the same time, let the existence elapses, flow, let it pass in front of us, watching.
It is necessary to conduct a “drain” of the unconscious.
The unconscious mind is accumulating experiences that have not been fully lived, have not been assimilated, either by conscious rejection, either by inability to grasp their meaning. We need to drop things, clearing all this accumulation we have in the back room.
Be centered in action: between the external stimulus and our response to the stimulus we must insert a brief space, and fill that space of awareness, presence.
For our responses to stimuli from the outside world no longer be automatic, for we do not behave like automatons, we must train in notice the short space of time between the stimulus and response, and once there, be present at that moment. Thus, the answer will be given progressively more and more aware, will be more authentic, less conditioned.
Let’s talk, say things from the depths, from our center.
This is an example of be centered in action: action in this case is talking. Before speaking, in the earlier time, we are fully present, then our speech will arise from our center and be inspired, energized. Our speech is often uprooted, far from our being.
The teacher-student dialogue is a dialogue heart to heart, no one is” superior “to another.
A true spiritual teacher does not purport to be superior to anyone, because this attitude is typical of the ego, which the teacher is free. What the teacher really wants in the dialogue with the disciple is to help him raise consciousness to more subtle levels, trying to convey an experience, something the teacher is already living.
A koan is nor a riddle, nor a paradox; It is an approach that uses opposites we have to transcend, looking at them from a higher level of consciousness, seeing, feeling that “nothing” that is the matrix of all that exists. The koan is not answered, the koan creates an experience.
It is common in the West go wrong with the concept of koan, interpreting it as a riddle for which must be found answer. Is not that. It is an invitation to transcend our conventional mind.
Zen aims to embody the essence, the Self, in the world.
Zen is not a means to “escape” from this phenomenal world going to a more subtle, but on the contrary, connects the two worlds, allowing higher levels of consciousness manifest here and now.