The act of meditation, largely obscured in mysticism, is easy to describe. The trend toward a momentary awareness, being in the moment; in a simple, blue-collar mindset the act itself becomes a self-perpetuating enlightenment. If so, are we content to remain within the patterns we create?
“Yes, I am present. And what strikes me at this moment is that I can go no further – like a man sentenced to life imprisonment, to whom everything is present. But also like a man who knows that tomorrow will be the same, and every other day. For when a man becomes conscious of what he is now, it means he expects nothing further.”
— Albert Camus – The Wind at Djemila
Repeating a mantra, counting the breath, doing repetitive actions over and over again, being in the moment, what is the result of all this arduous effort? These techniques, what do they seek to accomplish? The practice life is built on a romantic idea that brings with it the whole of the human dilemma, which again prevents the vessel from operating cleanly, the process from being completed. The idea of practice must be carefully taken apart along with the rest – carefully so that the thing is still breathing, that one is still actively pursuing the animus, yet detached from the outcome. It takes a lifetime to master, is far more likely to produce a potted plant than not. When the technique becomes stale, the focus turns toward the infrastructure, every inch of the framework evangelized, vaunted as some kind of magic formula that must be of exact proportion. In other words magic.
Most are deeply buried under their own clamor, striving, fighting to clear away through while convincing others of the validity of their technique, developing an identity through their practice, gathering teaching phrases and kasa rings, gaining, always gaining, only adding to the weight and suffering of their initial structuring.
Our communication has been breached. It doesn’t operate across the void. I can’t move a limb without being opposed, with sound reasoning and multiple angles, what amounts to me returning to my lonely pacing and keeping quiet. But it hardly hinders me. I know how to move through their thorns. Their words are the rustle of leaves in an abandoned forest, of even less value. Their pain cannot be absolved outwardly. It isn’t worth examining. It’s always wrong.
To reveal it, first we must remove ourselves from their sphere of activity. Forget what you’ve learned. These processes are only the initial stage, to prepare oneself. In fact, all of the practice forms can be seen as a preparation for an encounter, with … what? Like a leaf turning to the sun… we know there’s something more. Unlike the sun, it’s quite invisible, impossible to get at.
Over a lifetime of practice the attachment to the self is worn down. At first fragmented, the ego is slowly dismantled until it becomes fluid, transparent. This transparency is crucial. Through it we eventually become aware of a state beyond time and space, not approachable through the mind itself. There has to be an exchange, a transmutation of energy. It’s very costly, requiring your whole self to be sacrificed. And not a single moment of relinquishment, but continuously, everything. This is why so much of the teaching appears flat. It doesn’t translate well into our ego-centric affairs. We can’t give ourselves fully to it. It’s far too difficult. But if it’s seen through, it’s possible to open a door, one that simply didn’t exist before. What I’ve noticed, all of these opening events are completely invisible from the outside. You remain unaware of them until they occur. Also, there’s no way to know when an event will occur, even a moment before. It’s beyond our control, a very organic process. When the conditions are right, entire universes appear.
What I’ve seen over many long retreats, dwelling on this, looking long and hard at it, trying to understand what was happening to me, going over and over the occurrences, going in and out of this state more and more, ever higher, deeper, the barriers melting away until it began imbuing my daily life, until it was as one big ball of fire… encountering the true self, from what I understand, is not a realization of the interconnectedness of all things, but the moment before everything arises. It is the creative aspect, actively bursting into form. It is the activity of the Godhead, the eternal.
What did the Buddha see, the north star? That’s what is says in the book. There are signs all through the teachings of the Buddha, the symbology is quite elaborate. Every painting of the Buddha has a radiant circle behind the head to symbolize his enlightenment. If you’ve had some kind of encounter then you already know what this means, this bursting forth from the void. It can’t be mistaken for something else.