"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart 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.

Friday, January 19, 2018

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 I haven't seen him in awhile, and the entire course of our friendship emerges from a couple of handfuls of conversations at an upstairs table at the Coop, I still consider Gary to be one of my most valuable co-conspirators. 

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 all that 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 sincere, shared exploration about the truth of the matter at hand. 

With Gary, 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.

In one of our interactions, Gary thanked me for the fundraising effort I'd made a 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.

When Gary first brought up the topic, my first reaction was a subtle feeling of fear in my solar plexus.  The week before, with my heart in my throat, I had bombarded each and every one on my email contact list, google+ circles and Facebook friends with that fundraising appeal not once, but twice. Even though I had feared that some folks may roll their eyes or maybe even get pissed at me for this blatant appeal -- I had done it anyway. Trying to help out a couple of folks in need 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." 
(READ MORE)
Honestly

In our fundamentally materialistic modern society most of us have adopted the world view that there is an objective material reality, and that the only means of discerning the Real Truth of our existence is the scientific method. In this view, our individual "reality" is just an essentially subjective experience produced by our own unique bio-chemistry. Our Consciousness is just an "epi-phenomenon"of the human brain.   

Except for the various religious fundamentalists  who claim that their interpretation of their particular scripture is the Truth, the human quest to determine what is really going on then relies on complex machinery to extend our five senses, and intricate computerized mathematical models to extend our conceptual abilities.  If we can "prove" it through these means, it is Truth.

I don't buy it.

Although I've always been a science and technology geek, and do appreciate the incredible achievements that science has contributed to the quality of human life on this planet, IMHO it's search for Truth fundamentally flawed.  Science doesn't recognize that with some effort, we can individually and collectively sense the Truth without any fancy gadgets. The Real Deal is accessible to the human Heart and Mind. (these are not two).

The mess we are in results from having lost our connection to the Truth of the Matter. 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 and environmental destruction, 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 and to a deeper mode of awareness, one that perceives the Truth through experiencing Reality directly. 

In the final analysis, science and technology doesn't really cut it.  It begins and ends with fancy gizmos and the limited nature of conceptual  thought. 

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.  At the core of our Heart/Mind, it's universal.  It's our common sense. It permeates everything.  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  -- -- 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.

On the Other Hand

On the other hand, with a deep bow to the Zen tradition, in the embrace of 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 mysterious than I can fully comprehend or express.  Paying attention to our moment to moment experience, 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 itIt's an is. 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 encompass.   

IMHO, that's where humility comes in. 

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

At this point in human history, when even religions that give lip service to forgiveness and  compassion can incite and support genocide, warfare, and exploitation, 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 at the moment.

But who's to know? 

*The Founding Fathers of the US, although obviously limited in their understanding (the views of many of them didn't include all of humanity in their concept of "mankind".), 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.

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