” I’d come to realize that if a man is ever going to grasp anything it won’t be by learning. His being has to change. You are what you do, not what you know. A man never learns, he becomes. To become, you must find ways and means to change your entire state-of-mind. This in turn will lead to a change of being.” – Richard Rose
Take meditation into the world of action, rather than just imagination. It will then lead to a change of being, rather than just new patterns of isolated thoughts. For meditation to help us, to bring about a change in being, we need more than just thought. We need to put our lives on the line. We need energy as well as concept, transmutation as much as conviction.
Does this scare you? It should. Do you still feel a longing? Good, you’re not just in your head.
If a fear of death, and a longing/remembrance for something better are within you, you’re heading in the right direction. If not, for you think you’ve solved the problem and are at Heaven’s doorstep, you’ve become too clever. Are you heading farther into the head and the imagination, playing it safe, sleeping in the superior position of your dream?
On the other hand, are you wallowing in your fear and self-pity? The inferior position of the dreaming ego isn’t the right direction either, is it?
Sensitivity and cleverness can become enablers to our self-love, just as much as laziness and self-complacency. This can happen when we ignore our guts, not realizing that transmutation, and the resultant change in being, depends on generating and saving energy. Meditation shouldn’t happen just in the imagination. We transmute energy through exercise, from doing what we say, not being afraid to sweat and be uncomfortable, from facing our faults and mistakes: going against ourselves. Action as well as thought. This can’t happen if we remain soft and secure, yet collapse like a house of cards when push comes to shove. If every time things get rough, we copout to distraction and escape instead of standing tall and clear, we’ll never generate and save enough energy for real change.
Transmutation through meditation also needs a vector, a direction. It needs applied wisdom, a will, to direct the saved energy. Saving and directing our generated energy can transmute our cleverness into insight, our sensitivity into self-awareness, our self-indulgence into strength. This is the result of a change in the direction of our love, from love of self to a new found love for our higher potential. A faith in things unseen but felt, insight and intuition: allowed, carefully reasoned, and acted upon.
He cared deeply, lived carelessly, and couldn’t care less, and he died in the same obscurity into which he was born.Yet he remains the greatest leader and most remarkable man I have ever met. Everything that is best in me I owe largely to him.
Above the door to the ancient temple in Delphi were inscribed the words, “Know Thyself”. These words describe the process by which we separate from our false state of ignorance and rediscover true Being. But how do we initiate this process, this grand work of spiritual discovery? What tools should we choose to come to know this thing we call ‘ourselves’? If we are to engage in the pursuit of self-definition we will need to use the best tools available. To stalk our ‘self ‘, we will need something above or behind this personality to best observe with, something of a different order. Using the personality to observe the personality simply doesn’t work. It’s like trying to lift a plank while standing on it. This self we wish to come to know is a constantly changing, moving target, a veritable chain of reactions and patterns, seldom still, but always within our sight. To observe it we will need something calm and constant. Something that looks but doesn’t react; a seeing that listens.
Coming to know ourselves eventually crushes the ego, in that we find we are not what we imagined ourselves to be. We begin to see that the person we think we are is purely mechanical, a robot. Honesty and courage will be needed if we are to accept what we see, and perseverance when we find our task difficult and wish to retreat back into imagination. This process of dis-identifying leads to ego-death, as we separate from our pattern. The simple act of clearly seeing the person we were for what it truly is, is enough to bring about its death. We find we have become that which witnesses experience, where before we were experience, creating more and more experiences in an endless mechanical pattern. We are no longer the wily animal we have been tracking, which becomes cleverer with every experience, but instead something free, eternal, and indescribable.
Once we’ve had profound realizations on love and intuition, we have to watch for the ego taking these over and saying, “look how special I am, I can now do whatever I want”. You’re not special. This feeling just leads you into another trap that can be seen in the following two different ways: One, is we can think we’re special, and can do whatever we want without consequences. We treat other people however we feel with impunity, because we’re special, “I’m me” and me knows all about love.
The other one is, we think we are special and know about love, so we have to save everybody. The ego now has to fix, correct, and save everyone we meet. We forget about taking care of ourselves because we’re too busy rushing around doing everything to everyone, for ‘love’.
These two reactions basically come about from a lack of reason, brought on by base infatuation with ourselves. We have to allow reason to come into our decision-making process to double-check what the emotions, and our ego’s love, are up to. We don’t have to have reason as the final arbiter, the final decision-maker, but we should allow it into the process. It’s very easy to get tricked if we lose our heads, but not our egos, and start running around in love, thinking we’re infallible.
” What I suspect we need is not any kind of path or discipline, but a collection of tricks or devices for catching the Dark at the corner of the eye, as it were, and learning how to spot its just-waiting-to-be-seen presence, combined with strategies for stopping the hyperactive survival-programmes from immediately explaining the perception away. D. E. Harding’s exercises for discovering one’s own essential ‘headlessness’ are the best ideas I’ve yet come across for the first half of this process, but, by his own admission, most people ‘get it but simply don’t believe it’ .” – John Wren-Lewis
” Anything that pays the bills or works in the everyday world, including psychological systems, is never able to be rejected or seen for its errors. As long as you pay the bills, you have little chance of escaping your thought patterns. You never get to see how things are on the other side of the street, so to speak. If it works, it is self-maintaining, including all the mistakes built into the mind set.” – Jim Burns
In the above quote, Wren-Lewis has outlined a method for seeing our own ineffable awareness, the first part of which is Douglas Harding’s ‘experiments’ or tricks. He outlines the second part as the need for a strategy ‘for stopping the hyperactive survival-programs from immediately explaining the perception away’, but only gives a hint as to how to proceed.
The Harding experiments are simple and direct, but must be practiced rather than read about for any effect to occur. I’ve noticed through the years what Wren-Lewis describes as the survival programs immediately explaining the trick away occur again and again, in myself as well as others: someone has a breakthrough at a Harding workshop, after practicing the experiments at home, or even after a spontaneous event while driving or eating, but soon the ego grabs hold of the ‘experience’ and lays claim to it. “Look what ‘I’ did,” it boasts, “’I’ saw what ‘I’ was looking out of, as now I’m seeing it, as I always see it, and so now don’t have to do anything more, so lets get back to the real business of doing whatever we were doing before this seeing nonsense came up.” This last part about getting back to business isn’t actually admitted, even in private, nor announced in public. Soon the person has no connection with the anterior seeing other than a vague memory and a new storyline about how they’ve finally made it to the promised land, end of the road, they’re off the hook.
There is nothing unusual about this. It’s the valuation that’s wrong, for it’s placed on observing a projected memory, rather than on actual seeing in the moment. The person believes that one instance of seeing what they are looking out of has somehow made the seeing permanent, when actually they are being fooled by the ego’s penchant for taking unconsciously referenced and projected memory, as reality. This process happens much faster than conscious worded thought. In a manic mind fraught with the demands of modern living, it is for practical purposes, invisible. The person thinks he is ‘seeing’ when he is actually remembering his seeing, and thus is fooled into never seeing again. How can this survival program of the ego be seen through, and how can we stop it from fooling us so completely? Can we admit our seeing is something that we must practice, perhaps for years, before it becomes an actual real time spontaneous state?
A possible answer occurred to me when I remembered the above quote by Jim Burns. We must somehow still the mind from its pressing quest to believe it has day-to-day life under control in every aspect just long enough to allow the survival program to relax. Then, when a breakthrough such as a moment of seeing what you’re looking out of occurs, you can observe the entire event without the ego’s overwhelming need to add it to its bag of survival tricks, thus relegating it to memory, projection and self-trickery.
A plan of action would require a period of isolation, a time set aside with no human contact. Especially no contact with the human system of emotional reactions such as family, the workplace, and all media, including the news, cell phones and email. Once isolated from outside influence, a person’s hyperactive reaction pattern will lose steam, and any event such as a glimpse into the anterior realm will not be immediately rationalized as a deed of the ego, but can be seen for what it is. The entire pattern of self-deception can be noticed, without identification, from the moment of ‘seeing’ to it’s relegation to memory and the ego’s attempt to claim it, and henceforth project it as proof of its accomplishment. This combination of isolation from outside influence long enough to still the mind, coupled with a earnest desire to perform experiments designed to see our own awareness at work, is a possible scenario for upping our chances at a breakthrough. For some a few days might be enough to break the pattern of mind chatter, for others, several weeks may be necessary. Aids such as fasting, meditation, and a resolve to watch for the need for distraction however it tempts, will help to calm the mind. It is getting harder and harder to find a place where one can be free from the mind’s manic reflections, and still stay reasonably comfortable so as not to spend all one’s time and energy battling the elements and other irritations, but it’s necessity has never been greater. Any effort towards this would be beneficial, any actual practice of it invaluable. The greater the resistance, the greater the reward.
Learning to observe, or watch oneself without attachment, is so easy that most of us overlook it, thinking that we must need to be doing something more complicated.
Try a little experiment.Take your watch or a clock with a sweep second hand, and see how long you can watch the hand as it moves. Without thinking, just concentrate on observing the hand, without thoughts. Not very easy, eh, but so simple. If the thought comes “I’m watching the hand”, or if you find you’re trying to help it move by willing it, i.e. being the doer, or think, “What an idiot, I’m watching my watch!”, then you’ve lost the observer and are now creating a scene through visualization.
Now, find some task you perform as a habit, something simple you do everyday. Watch yourself as this task unfolds. If the thought comes, “I’m watching myself do this”, or “I’m watching myself, watching myself do this”, then you’ve lost the thread, and created another observer or self with which you become identified: the subject-object visualization trap. Just realize this, and go back to observing the scene, without a sense of involvement, even as the watcher. After you’ve had a bit of success with this, move on to something more complicated, and see if you can again observe the scene without the sense of the doer, or self.
Also, begin to remember what thoughts brought you out of the observer and back into identification, and what the hidden motivation was behind them. This free association, following the thoughts back to the desire or fear that caused the loss of the listening attention and brought back the sense of attachment, will show you your pattern. Then, go back to observing until the circle of distraction and loss of the listening attention spins around again.
Practice the above meditation for awhile, and put what you’ve found in clear, concise language.
“I want to become so lost in experience that I forget myself. I’ve always got things to think about, lots to do, it saves me from being in the moment. Something in me doesn’t want to face the moment, because it thinks it’s missing out, it’s going to miss something. Like needing to watch movies, or social networking, browsing endlessly on the web, channel surfing even though I can’t find anything I care about. I like to think that if I would just go home at night and sit in the dark, be quiet, stay away from the endless
electronic chatter, that I’d be calmer, happier. But when it’s that time, I find myself doing the same old same old, because I feel that I’m going to miss something. That if I watch the movie, browse the web, I’ll have done something. It’s the same way with thinking. I don’t like to just walk along, or just sit and be empty of reaction. Something in me wants to be thinking, thinking, thinking all the time because it’s so afraid it’s going to miss something by being quiet. It’s really strange, I think my mind is like a sort of buzz ball of static, trying to assert itself and stay alive, rather than letting what’s essential, my inner self, come forth and grow. “
If the above statement rings a bell for you, you’ve begun the big battle, the war of the selves. The inner fight between the outer and inner man. This is a huge step on the path, for it shows we’ve come to realize that the battle is within, not with circumstance or others, but with ourselves.
This buzz ball, the mind of static and habit, is opposed to our essence. It is all a matter of identification: what do I see I am? If you’re identified with the buzz ball, then you have to think, plan, do, be nervous, think you’re missing out all the time. If you’re identified with Essence, then experience doesn’t have to be so regulated or enticed. It’s just your awareness of existence, and what creates it, that matters. You simply enjoy watching whatever it is that’s there.
Then, words such as those in the Serenity Prayer take on meaning, for we begin to see we may not be the doer after all, but an observer who has very little to do with what’s going on in the play of our lives.
Lord, grant me
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.
You watch a movie, then notice the next day while you’re working, the movie has your inner movie working along trying to hash it out. The experience of watching the movie is taken by the mind as being real and therefore has to be worked out as if it happened. This is just like working four or five hard shifts, and then taking two days off for the mind to quiet down and process the mess. The experience is binding. If you are the type with a very strong personality and mind that are outward oriented, you never get a break from it, you try to still control it all, so that you can win. This means that the experience is binding to you and you can’t drop it.
The last statement shows why isolations, times spent alone, are so important. If you spend enough time out of pressing experiences, the inner movie starts to die down and you get a little breathing room. This could scare you half to death if you’re the type that’s identified with the inner movie, it would feel as if you’re losing your rich inner life. You don’t want quiet or stillness because that threatens that sense of self, or the self as it is and relates to the ego identified with the inner movie. If you sit long enough in the quiet, this sense of self gets threatened, you want to rush back into experience in order to regain that feeling of self, of life from drama.
Today’s social networking provides a sense of self to many, keeping Facebook and Twitter in business. It provides an effective escape from fear of loss of self, and sadly, from facing the Truth about what we really are. Isolations are important because they show us this inner movie, and the broad extent of its power over us. Quiet time spent alone reveals our inner self through the process of allowing the play and drama of modern life and its character-self to wind down.
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