"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Visible to the Naked Eye

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern. -- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle. " ― Thich Nhat Hanh

The world is shrouded in fog this morning. Although there is still a whisper of deep red in the burning bush and a muted yellow orange in the maple across High Street from my perch here at the Weldon Hotel, the sky has disappeared.

There was a time when a grey, gloomy morning like this could send my spirits spiraling downward.  Confined to the tunnel vision of my own thoughts and feelings.  I could get really depressedI would become oblivious to the Ongoing Miracle. 

Today, that didn't happen. I blame the Practice for this turn of events. 

Although I would be dashed between the rocks and hard places of my own unattended childhood trauma and dysfunctional conditioning many times over the years, I was fortunate.  The Collective Kensho of the late 60's and my own Peek Experience of Infinite Perfection in 1972 gave me a strong enough jolt of the Real Deal to get serious about meditation and a spiritual practice in my life.  Although there were some fleeting dry spells, I've mediated regularly for a long, long time.

Now, at age 75,  it seems I've found a way to Not-Do Depression.  Although I am no stranger to sadness, the Practice has transformed my relationship to this emotional energy.  The inner belief structures and narratives that operated to lock depression in place just can't seem get a toe-hold anymore.  Instead, the story lines arise and disappear within the Gracious Spaciousness of Awareness that is readily accessible much of the time.  Of course, I put my butt on the zafu for at least an hour most days and try to take an entire day of mindful practice at least once a month. I also hit a deep re-set button with one or two three day fasting silent retreats each year.

The Theory and the Practice

So, here's the Deal.
Left without the continual mental chatter and conditioned reactions that create the "narrow chinks" of our habitual way of experiencing life, sadness and the other elements of depression, like all phenomena, are seen for what they are -- impermanent.  They are usually quite fluid and fleeting. They come and go of their own accord.   With Practice, I have learned to see through what in the past had seemed to be fixed states of depression.  What remained was a certain pattern of energy floating in the gracious spaciousness of Open Awareness. 
The Practice
During our explorations on the zafu, we may, at times, access deep tears as ancient wounds and grief are released.  This is a good thing.  It's the body's natural way to release the energy.  In fact, my own depressed states were often the result of grief, anger, and fear frozen in place and locked into inner narratives that perpetuated depression.  Having the ice melt into tears released a lot of energy that I could channel into taking care of what needed to be done to deal constructively with Life as it presented itself.

As Practice has deepened, there are still some times that tears emerge as a healing energy.  Yet, these days, it doesn't usually go there.  Life being Life, the emotional energy of sadness may appear in moments of melancholy or brief bouts of bittersweet.  Yet, if this isn't resisted, if it is embraced with an open heart or mind, it usually doesn't develop any momentum.  If the habitual story lines that emerge are released, and we let go of our efforts to "figure it out," the depressive patterns don't develop a mind of their own.  They won't hit the down button. 

Yet, at least in my case, this didn't happen overnight.  It took the development of a serious Practice.  It involved sitting still an a regular basis to face and embrace the accumulated baggage of my own conditioning, to open my heart and mind to Life as it is, with all it's inevitable ups and downs.  That took courage, effort, a gentle persistence -- and developing a deep kindness towards myself and others.  Contrary to prevailing opinion, all this can be cultivated

It just takes Practice.

It is certainly true that as the Practice unfolds, there can be moments of outright wonder and gratitude and bliss.  You may be blessed to experience all the big bang moments of human consciousness imaginable.  Yet, this isn't the Heart of the Matter.  In fact, an attachment to going for the gold and trying to get all the goodies in the spiritual dimension can hang you up, maybe even more than other forms of greed and grasping.  The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa called this Spiritual Materialism and emphasized this point a lot.  I suspect he saw clearly how deeply his Western students had been conditioned by our super- charged capitalist "what's in it for me" upbringing.  
And Then...

Over time, the Practice becomes quite ordinary.  It's no big deal.  It's simply something you do.  You "assume the position" -- again and again.  Then, you carry it into your life off the meditation cushion.  Ultimately it is about relaxing, releasing our own self-centered agenda, and opening our hearts to the present moment wherever we are.  Being Present, we feel the Presence of the One Love.

Then, at a certain point, it becomes obvious.  

This is IT.  There just isn't anyplace to go other than where you are.  There is nothing more extraordinary than the ordinary.  In the embrace of an open heart and a clear mind, Infinity is visible to the naked eye. 

Looking up from the keyboard, taking a breath and relaxing my shoulders just now, I gazed out the window.  

It's as clear as a bell out there now.

I love it when that happens.  

1 comment:

Craig said...

Thank you so much Lance! I found your account and your description very resonant with my own and very inspiring ❣️❣️🙏🏽