True Meditation: The Joy of Losing Control

•January 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

True Meditation: The Joy of Losing Control

I’ve recently been intrigued by how often we, as a civilized culture, associate our various endeavors with the notion of “the path”. In literal terms, there is no mystery about taking a path, say, from your house to the store. But the idea of “the path” has seeped beyond the mundane into the abstract realm of perception and belief, having become so ingrained in our collective consciousness (or rather, sub-consciousness), as to be largely taken for granted. Whether it be emblazoned in our myths (e.g. The quest for the Holy Grail), scribbled in our histories (e.g. Manifest Destiny) or shackled to our everyday individual lives (e.g. “climbing the corporate ladder”), the compulsion of needing to get from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ in order to be happy seems to be as natural to us (and as unexamined) as the air we breathe. Our very vernacular is rife with this imagery. How often have you heard or used the words, “my life’s journey”, “my spiritual path”, “going to heaven/hell”, “taking the road less traveled”, “what someone is going through”, “taking your relationship to the next level” or, to borrow an observation from Alan Watts, “coming into the world (from somewhere else?)”

So it comes as no surprise that many of us unconsciously carry this perspective into our meditative practice with less-than-desirable results. This is not to say that the ‘Point A’-to-‘Point B’ approach is completely without merit, given the proper context. True meditation, however, is a horse of a completely different color. Just as Newtonian laws of physics do not apply to the subtler levels of the sub-atomic realm, approaching meditation under the assumption that there is some finish line to be crossed, after which one acquires the grand prize (peace, transcendence, enlightenment, a still mind, oneness with everything, etc…) will yield little if any lasting benefit to the practitioner.

Why? Perhaps my good friend, Analogy will lend us a hand: Imagine the subjective content of all your experiences (thoughts, feelings, desires etc…) as leaves blowing around in a precarious wind over which you have no influence. Sometimes the wind blows gently, at other times more forcefully. Sometimes there are lots of leaves, at other times not as many. Some leaves are dry and dully-colored, others are vivid and attractive; still others are vivid and unattractive. Some are whole, others fragmented. They vary in size, shape, texture, hue –in fact, the combinations are virtually unlimited in frequency and variegation.

For most seekers, the goal of life (or at least spiritual pursuits) is to exist in a state where the wind never blows and no leaves obscure our vision (or if leaves do blow in, they must be very pretty and come wafting in on the most heavenly-scented, cherub-breath breezes, carrying the mellifluous sounds of angels’ harps…) Many of us have, largely by fluke, tasted the peaceful clarity of a leafless, windless mind. Here, the infinite space of Consciousness itself becomes abundantly obvious. But, because of an unconscious notion that associates this boundless experience with the absence of content (the leaves) and desire (the wind), we are bound to be frustrated when nature resumes its spirited tango, oblivious to our noble aspirations. Nothing ruffles the feathers of a devout practitioner like the blatant indifference of Life happening. Indeed, the more seriously one takes oneself, the more frustrated one is likely to become.

Lament not! There is another alternative, in fact the only alternative conducive to a ‘quantum leap’ in evolution of human consciousness. It is the secret of secrets and can be summed up in two words: lose control. Relinquish all notions that you have any control over your experience. Those two provocative words may invoke images of disaster (‘I lost control of my temper’, ‘he lost control of the car’, ‘that guy can’t control his kids’ etc….) But in this case, the results are the very antithesis of disaster. Here, ‘losing control’ is synonymous with allowing every experience that arises during your meditations to exist without resistance or analysis. As a natural by-product of this allowing, a fresh new dimension to life reveals itself, by itself. This underlying quality is inherently peaceful and joyful; just as water is inherently fluid and wet –and it requires nothing more than simply letting go and allowing.

Sound difficult? Impractical? Implausible? Nice on paper, but not in reality?  I will answer those questions with a question of my own: Is it difficult to watch leaves blowing in the wind and recognize the space in which they are moving? Try it out and see for yourself. You may find that it’s a cinch. The ability to allow is not an alien practice to you. You don’t need to study for years under some enlightened yogi to learn the arcane art of letting things be as they are. However, if I suggested to you that the only way to consciously recognize the dimension in which the leaves are blowing is to do something with the leaves or the wind, you might look at me as if I had three heads. Yet there is essentially no difference between those leaves and your thoughts!

As simple and second-nature as this receptive approach proves to be, it is anything but idle and boring. Terms like allowing and receptivity may infer inactivity or ambivalence. But experientially, this is not so. It may sound contradictory on the surface, but you can allow the moment to unfold just as passionately as you can resist it. Witnessing the “now” part of the experience -that supremely simple context in which all of the content of our experience plays out- actually becomes increasingly compelling and joyful. One discovers a sense of vibrant aliveness which deepens as one’s attention becomes more absorbed by this Eternal Moment. Furthermore, through simple familiarity, one becomes able to perceive (and rest in) this underlying peaceful presence in any weather condition. Leaves or no leaves –who cares!?

Here’s the really cool part: This peace or ultimate state of oneness is already pre-existing, right here, right now!

Take a moment to let that sink in. The implications are astounding. If this state of oneness is already in progress, then it doesn’t need to be created. If it’s already present now, it doesn’t need to be ‘arrived at’ (How does one arrive at right now?) So under these circumstances, the motivation for getting to some ‘Point B’ (someday) is akin to trying to elevate yourself above the floor by pulling on your bootstraps or by trying to erase waves in water by smoothing them out with your hand. This is the best news in the history of news! There is no Point B! When you abandon any inclination of trying to get somewhere else and become familiar with resting in the now, the twin burdens of effort and expectation normally associated with the old paradigm fall away quickly and are replaced with a profound sense of relief.

Indeed, if this were the early days, I may have titled this article: Extra! Extra! Path To Peace Not Nearly As Long As Previously Believed! Read All About It!

(bio: Mahan Ishaya lives in St. Louis and is a teacher of the Ishayas’ Ascension of the Bright Path. http://www.thebrightpath.com)

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•January 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

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