"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It Takes One to Know One

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.”

 “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it Intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why."
― Albert Einstein

As a kid I was extremely curious. I think we all were--although many of us were quickly conditioned to drop it and "get with the program" by parents and schoolteachers who couldn't deal with our incessant questioning.

I remember stumbling across a broken camera when I was about 9 years old.  I took it home and immediately took it apart.  I wondered why the heck the world was upside down when I viewed it through the single lens I extracted from that camera! After fooling around for awhile with the various lenses I then collected, I figured out how to right the image and make a telescope.

Later that same year, I discovered that an electric car I'd received as a Christmas gift made static on the radio's speakers whenever its path took it close to the radio.  Again curious, I took the car apart and discovered that the sparking of its electric motor created radio waves! Before all was said and done, I had cobbled together a homemade keying device and was learning morse code so that I could send messages through space using these invisible waves of energy.   

This early interest in invisible waves of energy continued.  In junior high school I became a ham radio operator -- and a musician.  Sound waves, radio waves, light waves.  They all fascinated me.  The idea that these individual waves operated at different frequencies, at different rates of vibration was pretty clear to me. I learned how to tune my guitar.  I learned how to tune my homemade transmitter to deliver maximum power at a particular frequency. There appeared to be certain principles involved. 

So, by the time the Hippies were happening in Haight Ashbury a handful of years later, even at a distance, I was quite inclined to believe in the term "good vibrations."  I didn't find it odd at all to believe that there was a dimension of experience that involved invisible energies.  I was soon exploring yoga and meditation practice. 

In the course of the next few years, with the support of a number of friends/kindred spirits (we actually formed a short-lived "commune" in the early 70's), I learned that one didn't have to do drugs to be in touch with a subtle dimension of experience where other energies were at play. If we pay
attention, "the vibes" are as perceptible as the wind on our skin.  I came to see that, just like in music and radio, there were certain principles at work.
(READ MORE)
The Perennial Philosophy traces its roots from the Neo-Platonism of the middle ages in Europe through the Transcendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau, etc.) of 19th century America, into what many have called the New Age Spirituality of our times.  It's basic premise is that all the world's religions share a single, fundamental Truth, a Truth directly perceived through the "mystical" experience of it's founders and subsequent prophets, seers, sages and saints.  I think a whole lot of us who came of age in the psychedelic 60's and 70's tapped into that experience -- with or without drugs.   Put simply, that experience involved the deep recognition that we are, each of us, inseparable parts of an Essential Oneness.  We are not only "all in this together", we are all this -- together.  It takes One to know One.

So, its not surprising that each of the world's major religions place a fundamental importance on Love and Compassion.  Jesus, for one, claimed it all boils down to loving God (the All) and loving one another. Buddha said that the only eternal law is that hate doesn't cease by hatred, it only ceases through love.  The other major religions seem to agree.  They all go on to propose some form of the Golden Rule and lay out pretty similar ethical frameworks for our behavior: honor your parents, don't kill, don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, etc.   It only makes sense, right?  That part of us which experiences ourselves as individuated focal points of awareness in relation to the "other" beings out there should be kind and caring.   After all, at the deepest level you and I are the warp and woof of the same tapestry.

So what does this have to do with telescopes, radios and guitars?

Albert Einstein, a man who never lost a childlike sense of wonder as he danced along the edge of Science and Mystery,  discovered that matter and energy are fundamentally interchangeable.  Once that is understood, its pretty easy see some common principles at work.  In theory and in practice, it's all about vibrations, waves, and fields:  Energy can be focused.  (Did you ever focus sunlight through a lens? )   Energy radiates.  (Throw a rock in a still pond sometime -- or just turn on a light switch.)  Energy also resonates.  (Sing a G note into a guitar sometime and listen to it sing back. The "screech" of amplified feedback operates on that principle, too.  Only it has sort of run amuck.) Physicists and engineers have been all over it for a long time.  There are principles that seem to describe it's behavior. 

The hippie Spiritual Teacher Stephen Gaskin, among others, points out that awareness is also part of the equation.  Awareness=Energy=Matter.  That being so, where and how we focus our attention becomes profoundly important.  A quality of awareness that is truly attentive, kind, and caring has a tangible effect not only on our own experience, that effect is also radiated outward.   Going further, the Spiritual Energy of Love not only palpably touches ourselves and others, it also resonates deeply with Something deep within and beyond us, a field of energy that seems limitless, infinitely expansive.  (God? Allah? The Tao? Shunyata?  A rose by any other name...... )  As we grow in our ability to "vibrate at that frequency", it has a profound impact on our life and the lives of those around us--and even beyond that.  If you're paying attention at all, you can see that play out directly.

Although any attempt I've made to answer the question "why is it this way" dissolves into the Great Mystery and continues to brings forth a sense of childhood wonder and deep curiosity, I certainly have witnessed a basic truth in my life: the kinder I can be, the better things get.

The impediments to being kind are, of course, many, varied and deep in our conditioning. Kindness is an exacting discipline.  It takes Practice. It is something I have to work at.  Yet, I can't think of anything better to do with my time.

That's why I Sit -- as best I can figure it out at this point. 

But, who really knows?


4 comments:

Michael Pollitt said...

"So, its not surprising that each of the world's major religions place a fundamental importance on Love and Compassion."

Well yes they do in theory and writings. But not throughout their histories or in the practice of their hierarchies, rules, organizations, perspectives/dogma - at least not some of the major religions. And unfortunately not in the one in which I was brought up in - Christian.
None of us is perfect, but jeez...

Michael Pollitt

Lance Smith said...

I hear that, Michael. Many of us have been put off by the violence and hypocrisy of institutionalized religion. (Actually Buddhism isn't free of that in its history, either). To me, that makes it all that more important to discern the truth of the matter for ourselves.

As best I can see it Jesus, like Buddha, proclaimed Love and Peace and Justice as our birthright. Christians like Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, the Berrigan Brothers, among countless others have kept that faith alive.

These days I choose to focus on the Teachings of Jesus, and words and actions of other kindred spirits who, I think, "get it"-- not the distortions of the institutional churches through the past two centuries.

That being said, I do occasionally find myself ranting about the current "brood of vipers" on the Christian Right and continuing to support political efforts to overturn the tables of the money lenders, banksters and corporate thieves who've highjacked our democracy.



Anonymous said...

Alien influences were the first to inhabit this awesome planet. To thy own self be true. Choose your leader. I like the teaching of alien, Jesus who seems to be straight forward in all information on the best way to enjoy and blend with this place we call home for the moment,and.. in this formation. Narrow is the path for sure. 'Practice' to find and stay on it, is a daily search for joy! Time spent here is a trip. We have the choice to make it our heaven, or make it our hell.
Well, that's my take on the ball of rock at this point in my practice.

Lance Smith said...

May you continue to rock on and have a ball on this ball of rock, my friend.