By Wes Annac, Openhearted Rebellion
The word “spirituality” means something different to each of us. Some interpret it as a path or lifestyle and believe that the destination is enlightenment.
Some seekers look at the world as a school in which we develop compassion, learn to be human, and slowly become aware of things hidden from the human eye. I’m one of many who see the world this way. I think we are all students with the potential to teach each other.
In my opinion, we should tap into our potential so we can help those who are lost. Fortunately, countless insightful teachers have stepped up to help the rest of us. Some of them have gained a following, whereas others have spoken their truth quietly and stayed out of the limelight.
As I have before, I’d like to read a few quotes from some wise individuals who were not shy about sharing their insight. Here, we’ll hear from Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, as well as Lao-Tzu; Jiddu Krishnamurti; Adyashanti; and one of my personal favorites, Franklin Merrell-Wolff.
They will expertly explain these ideas that I can only scratch the surface of. I’ll do my best to keep up.
“The light of a lamp does not flicker in a windless place: that is the simile which describes a yogi of one-pointed mind, who meditates upon the Atman.
“When, through the practice of yoga, the mind ceases its restless movements, and becomes still, he realizes the Atman. It satisfies him entirely. Then he knows that infinite happiness which can be realized by the purified heart but is beyond the grasp of the senses.” – Sri Krishna (1)
When you’re deep in meditation, it can feel as if you’re in another world.
Everyone has a theory about what the meditative state is. Some call it the fourth dimension; some say it’s a space in which we connect with spiritual guides or the higher self; and some believe it is simply an expanded state of mind.
Whatever this phenomenon is, meditation is one of few ways we can experience it.
For many, the problem with meditation and stillness is that they require discipline with no immediate reward. At first, they won’t seem like anything special. At this point, most will give up. For those who keep going, meditation can open the door to a hidden sanctuary – a place of peace and bliss that most fail to see.
At music and viands
The wayfarer stops.
But the Way, when declared,
Seems thin and flavorless!
It is nothing to look at
And nothing to hear;
But used, it will prove
Inexhaustible. – Lao-Tzu (2)
At first glance, meditation seems ordinary. It won’t dramatically change your life. For this reason, most of us pass by it without a second glance. Those who put in the work will reap the rewards while the rest look for a quicker, easier path.
Depending on how you choose to see it, meditation can be far from fun or entertaining. It’s more of a discipline you must work to develop. Ironically, the “work” involves the absence of effort – the willingness to just sit and be. In this plain, boring emptiness lives something incredible.
It is only revealed to those who, for a short time, can unplug from the external world and go within.
“The mind is quiet only when it is not caught in thought, which is the net of its own activity. When the mind is still, not made still, a true factor, love, comes into being.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti (3)
According to J. Krishnamurti, love is born from a quiet mind. Anger and anxiety vanish when the mind is silent. You’re left with a serene, relaxing feeling that in meditation is often accompanied by pleasant sensations and light visuals.
The sensations seem to pulse through your forehead; the visuals seem to accompany them. In this way, meditation is mildly psychedelic.
Meditation is a more natural yet less instantly gratifying way to lift the veil and look at the other side. It’s free, with the only cost being the small amount of time you spend on it. This insignificant sacrifice will help you to be more peaceful, less anxious, and more compassionate.
As stress and anxiety diminish, love and compassion take their place.
“Enlightenment means the end of all division. It is not simply having an occasional experience of unity beyond all division, it is actually being undivided. This is what nonduality truly means. It means there is just One Self, without a difference or gap between the profound revelation of Oneness and the way it is perceived and lived every moment of life.
“Nonduality means that the inner revelation and the outer expression of the personality are one and the same.
“So few seem to be interested in the greater implication contained within profound spiritual experiences, because it is the contemplation of these implications which quickly brings to awareness the inner divisions existing within most seekers.” – Adyashanti (4)
I was recently chatting with a friend who explained to me one of the philosophical differences between western and eastern culture. He explained that people in the west are more focused on the “I”, whereas many in the east focus more on the “we”.
Basically, western culture is more self-centered. Surprising, I know. By contrast, many eastern cultures are all about looking out for the tribe. They focus on everyone’s wellbeing.
In some religions, eastern or not, unity is a central principle. Rastafari is a good example. When they refer to themselves, Rastas say “I&I”– a term meant to represent unity between all people. Clearly, some cultures and belief systems have the right idea.
We should look out for each other. But sadly, society has created conditions in which we’re forced to look out for ourselves at the expense of others. Ever since the 60s, however, eastern influences have been helping to create a much-needed paradigm shift in the west.
“One should aim at the Emptiness as the highest, but … the consequence in relative consciousness is a new richness developing along the lines of the natural bent of the individual consciousness. On the other hand, if one aimed at a conceivable goal he sets that goal as an arbitrary limit.
“The advantage of aiming beyond all possible limits lies in rendering more nearly realizable the fullest possibilities of the individual. The Emptiness is thus the real Philosopher’s Stone which transforms all things to new richnesses; It is the Alkahest that transmutes the base metal of inferior consciousness into the Gold of Higher Consciousness.” – Franklin Merrell-Wolff (5)
With his alchemic language, Franklin is encouraging us to embrace the emptiness and aim far beyond enlightenment. If the exploration of the self is limitless, then enlightenment obviously won’t bring an end to it.
According to Franklin, we find freedom by accepting that the process is infinite and living in the present moment without searching or striving for anything. Instead of hoping for enlightenment, we should be open to the subtle yet profound benefits our practice gives us in the here and now.
Emptiness, which is a result of letting go of all goals, expectations, and repetitive thought patterns, is all we need. It may be mundane, but Franklin and countless others say it is a source of love and wisdom.
These teachers agree that meditation and emptiness are key to expanding your consciousness. If you’re searching for wisdom, the best place to look will always be within. Despite this, sometimes it helps to have a push from those who are willing to share their truth.
- Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 66.
- Lao Tzu, The Way of Life. The Tao Te Ching. R.B. Blakney. New York, etc.: Avon, 1975, 35, 88.
- Krishnamurti,Commentaries on Living. Second Series. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1967; c1958, 32.
- Adyashanti, “Selling Water by the River,” Inner Directions Journal, Fall/Winter, 1999, downloaded from http://www.adyashanti.org, 2004.
- Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Pathways Through to Space. A Personal Record of Transformation in Consciousness. New York: Julian Press, 1973, 15.
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