*Brian Wilcox. 'signs of the Sacred among us'. Flickr
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Trying to be peaceful is no longer to be peaceful. Just sit down.
*Dainin Katagiri. Returning to Silence.
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A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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Yesterday, you said we would return to how the word "meditation" can be part of our problem in what you've called "effortfulness," as it seems to be that for me, for it seems to imply something to do, rather than be.
First, if the word "meditation" does not help you as you feel you need, I recommend you choose another word or do not use any word for this. The way your refer to being-in Silence needs to agree with what that means for you, needs to inspire you. I use varied words, "meditation" being only one, and not the one I prefer. I do not even like the oft-used word, now in vogue, "non-meditation." Why include "meditation," if there is really no meditation?
Which is your favorite?
Not sure there is a favorite. I often think of just Silence. Some say "just be," but that does not work well, for you cannot just be, for you already are. Saying "just be" is nonsensical, and, then, just being becomes something to become. Weird.
"Meditation," for me, hints at a struggle, a long way to go, and a lot of work to be done to get there, wherever there is.
Any word can. Again, you can spend your whole life trying to just be, that can become a long journey, like looking for your nose while it is stuck on your face. Like trying to relax, which does not work, or trying to go to sleep, which is futile. Relaxation happens, sleep happens.
I recommend seeing meditation as something that helps you relax. This means, literally, "loose again." Your time in Quiet needs to be relaxing, this is good for the body and lifts the barrier of repression that is so much a part of most persons' experience. In this relaxed openness, energy is able to flow more freely, you are able to see more clearly, and, again, there are health benefits for the body in the releasing and reduction of stress. Yet, again, do not go with an agenda to try to make relaxation happen, relaxing happens, and you can assist through means such as a mantra, a prayer phrase, following the breathing, and so forth, but that is only cooperating with the natural capacity of the body to loosen itself up. You are not relaxing the body, the body relaxes itself; again, as you do not breathe, the body breathes or, possibly more true, breathing breathes.
I think the whole idea of transcending speaks to me of a lot of effort.
There is nothing to transcend, the path is a way of including more and more, not transcending, or literally "going over," more and more. Often the image of a ladder has been used of meditation and spiritual growth, for example, in the Christian tradition of Jacob's ladder and in John Climacus's Ladder of Divine Ascent. It all sounds strenuous to me, and we associate much effort with climbing like this.
Would you give an alternative to this?
Contrast climbing to sinking. I like the image of meditation being a process of sinking. The path, then, is a movement downward, into deeper and deeper depth. You sink slowly when you cease resistance to the sinking, then, sinking occurs on its own, spontaneously. You are not trying to sink, sinking happens, as though the depths are calling you deeper and deeper into itself and, at the same time, drawing you progressively into itself.
So, a good image of meditation is relaxation or like some say "non-doing"?
Yes. No. I mean, relaxation happens and facilitates the being present and insight that arises in the Silence. Yet, meditation is not merely relaxation. Meditation is a word pointing to the whole process that facilitates this arising of presence and wisdom to arise, as well as varied thoughts and feelings that arise into and through the mind in the Quiet.
Again, choose what word works for you, if you want a word. This word needs to speak of a natural openness, receptivity, and alertness. Remember that while you enter set times in Silence to meditate, this does not mean doing nothing. Effortfulness blocks the natural arising of presence and wisdom, but no effort means simply relaxing or maybe even zoning out mindlessly, not meditating. Also, meditation does not mean working toward a higher state of consciousness, but allowing what arises to arise-with the flowing of here-and-now, to enjoy being without trying to be. So, do something when needed to facilitate this process, but do it as a means for the naturalness of being to come forth spontaneously, and this naturalness is your way of being, of living. In doing this, over time you will need to do less for this process to arise; also, you will see it becoming more and more a part of your daily life. And, finally, do not assume the more complicated, so-called higher, meditations are the best for you. The simple is better. You will, if you keep with some method or methods, simplify over time, and will likely find yourself doing less and less, until you are always or mostly doing what we could call "just sitting." In "just sitting," which could mean while standing or lying down, there is a pure naturalness of presence, nothing to do, nothing not to do, again like breathing or sinking. Even here, however, you might choose to revert to a technique to reestablish this naturalness of being. You may never be totally free of technique, but that need not be a goal anyway.
Last, whatever you do or not in meditation, meditation needs to be fun. Let it be fun, exploration, experimentation. Meditating, you cannot fail. Do not take it so seriously. Relax, see what happens. Use the light touch, not the heavy push. This should not be hard work, a dash or push to some finish line. There is no finish line. Let the Depths draw you deeper and deeper into Itself, and you will learn more and more to trust the power and wisdom of Grace. Your meditation will progressively become more graceful.
*Brian Wilcox. 'exquisite simplicity'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.