"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, March 27, 2014

Keeping It Real

"Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear...
All that I can, in true humility, present to you is that Truth is not to be found by anybody who has not got an abundant sense of humility."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

“Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, 
but simply to realize where you already are.”
―John Kabat-Zinn,  Wherever You Go, There You Are



Although the entire course of our friendship emerges from a couple of handfuls of conversations at an upstairs table at the Coop, I consider Gary to be one of my most valuable cohorts.  A few times during our first conversations, Gary had challenged me to clarify what had slipped out of my mouth -- often as a quip or facetious comment. (It seems I often default to my youthful personality as a Chicago street kid, a wannabe wise guy, the perennial, if not proficient, class clown)  

I've learned.  In Gary's presence, I always have to be ready to pay attention.  Lord knows, he does.  Whether we were talking Coop Policies (he sits on the Board), world events, or spirituality, I have to stay Present, ready to engage in a shared exploration about the truth of the matter at hand. I can't be sloppy. I have to be careful with my words, precise about what I think I know -- and don't know.  I imagine sitting with Gandhi would be something like that.

Yesterday, Gary thanked me for the fundraising effort I'd made a couple of weeks ago on behalf of two friends, codgers like myself, who were facing eviction as a result of ill health and their extended unemployment benefits being cut by the US Congress in December.

When Gary first brought up the topic, my first reaction was a subtle feeling of fear in my solar plexus.  Last week, with my heart in my throat, I had blogged about their plight in Rambling On with Brother Lefty Smith, S.O.B.* and bombarded each and every one on my email contact list, google+ circles and communities, and on Facebook more than once. Even though I had feared that some folks may roll their eyes or maybe even feel violated by this blatant appeal -- I had done it anyway. Trying to help out felt that important to me.

When I told Gary about that fear, that I was set to apologize for bothering him.  he said "No, It's okay man. Thanks for keeping it real." 

In today's world there is a widely held view that there is no such thing as Truth


In a fundamentally materialistic culture, most of us have been taught that there is probably no Real Truth -- or we couldn't discern what was true if it did exist. In this view, "reality" is just an essentially subjective experience produced by our own unique bio-chemistry and its conditioning by the world around us.  In this view, the best shot we have at figuring it out is probably science, which in this day and age, usually involves complex machinery that extend our senses, intricate computerized mathematical models and the like.  

Although I actually appreciate the incredible achievements that science has contributed to the quality of human life on this planet, it's search for Truth is, I think, fundamentally flawed.  Science doesn't recognize that with some effort, we can individually and collectively sense the Truth without any fancy gadgets.  I think that's why along with all the obvious high side of technology there is an extreme low side ranging from the blasphemy of nuclear weapons to the probability that many of us are actually addicted to Facebook (and Google+, and the like) in a way that may impede a real connection to other human beings.  Science and technology doesn't really cut it.

What then?

As Gandhi and countless others have reminded us, we human beings actually have the on board equipment to discern Truth, to sense what the Real Deal is.  We don't need fancy machines.  We don't need a computer.  We have Awareness.  It's a common sense. It permeates everything.  Awareness is at the Heart of the Matter.

You and I are immersed in it at this very moment.

Mindfulness Practice offers us the opportunity to "remove the cobwebs" and progressively get in touch with that place within us where we can say things like "we hold these truths to be self-evident".*  With Practice, we refine our ability to pay attention to our own experience beyond the limitations of discursive thought and mere imagination.  With Practice, we come to this very moment, Present to Life in a deeper and clearer way.  

Through cultivating our ability to clearly hear what we hear, see what we see, feel what we feel, other realms of "knowing" emerge.   With Practice, intuitions and subtler energies come into view.  With time and effort -- -- or perhaps in this very moment -- we come to know that Truth of the Matter is always ringing like a clear bell within a vast ocean of silent energy. It's Presence is self-evident.

Of course, on the other hand, at any one moment I can also say, quite emphatically, that I really don't know!  As moment flows into moment, it is quite apparent that Truth is much vaster, infinitely more beautiful and awful (in the true sense of the word) than I can fully comprehend or express.  Paying attention, it's clear that reality is infinitely fluid, open, and expansive. 

As we come to the present moment of our actual experience, with all senses operating fully,  we come to see that Truth isn't an it. It flows.  It's a verb, not a noun. Any attempt to grasp it and lay claim to it will fail -- and cause suffering as well. Truth is much vaster than any one ego --or collection of egos --can hold.   

That's where humility comes in. To stay humble, gentle, kind, open, curious, and respectful of others isn't just the "moral" thing to do. As each fleeting moment cascades into the infinite pool of eternity, a deep humility reflects the nature of our actual situation. It's keeping it Real.   

At this point in human history, when even religions that advocate compassion can incite and support warfare, humility is crucial.  We desperately need to be comparing notes on how to work this all out.  If we can meet eyeball to eyeball and not put on airs, we might yet have a chance to figure this out together  -- as equals. 

Anyway, that's the way it looks to me.  

But who's to know? 

*The Founding Fathers of the US, although obviously limited in their understanding, actually hit on something real, I think.  If we really did act as if each and every human being had an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there could be no war or exploitation of any kind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The wall that humans are up against as they travel in time on this planet seems to be 'divide and conquer'. To recognize this strategy and not fall prey to it, unites and stands strong. Funny the song says it all. "United we stand, divided we fall" if only we could look smaller and closer to home on that thought, we would see the division starts in the home. Our own mind, body, and spirit divided, then conquer on all fronts of the individual outward. It's all a power game, and those that fall under it's weight are the weakest links by not recognizing they are being played,(as we all are being played) and not realizing the depth of the power game being played out.. It is damaging to ones self.
As a whole, I feel the human race is a failure on this awesome planet. We are trashing our home and ourselves with it, all for the sake of paper with green ink printed on it. Nothing else seems to take such a high priority in or on the home we walk. Example: a new find of prehistoric bones in around 2009 were discovered when clearing a marsh lake, huge find of a bones, one per min.This in Colorado. One bone suggested human interaction!, the site had only 50 days to dig before it was turned over for development of a ski resort. The human interaction would have suggested man was here 3000 years before what is recorded now. Money and power took precedence over "home" work. Sad. Finding joy seems to becoming more intense to be calmed in the storms of ignorance/evil as well as counting blessings for being in a joyful mind set at any given moment and not feel the pull to join in the destruction of self or surroundings. Preservation has to start with self before it can reach out to mother earth.
Thank you for your interaction to influence calm of self as we hit rough waters more often on the stream of life.