formats

Reality, the Greatest Drug of All

Published on July 15, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

The other day, a client said to me during a Skype session, “it sounds from the way you are describing the nature of experience/reality that you’re on ayahuasca or something.” I had to laugh, letting her know that the last drug I ingested was probably some 35 years ago! I shared with her that if we just peer around the edges of our descriptions of things, sense what is already here, just beyond the edges of our seeming certainty and knowledge of what reality is, we will find that our experience—without the aid of any mind-altering substances—is always and already a total trip, an infinitely diverse, kaleidoscopic array and mix of color, light, texture, nuance, energy, and consciousness, an indescribable, richly textured, wildly unpredictable, dynamic flashing forth of phenomena, a ceaseless, ungraspable, unnameable flow of sparkling sensations, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, memories, a shining, flickering, shape-shifting, morphing dance, a presence that is always here, always now, yet never the same, a singular, seamless, undivided reality that is, at the same time, unimaginably colorful and diverse. Experience, as it is… the awe-inspiring, unfathomable depth and mystery of existence itself, the greatest drug of all!

Comments Off.
formats

Dialogue Regarding the Use and Limitations of Language

Published on July 13, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

Q: How do you avoid the obvious implication of what you are saying: that if people are going to experience reality “as it really is,” everybody ends up living in a cocoon, harboring his own (nonverbal) reality? Because whenever you want to share your private reality with someone else, or discuss “reality” with others, you have to use language, right?

A: What I’m saying doesn’t keep people from doing what they’ve always done which is to share their necessarily limited descriptions of reality. I’m just talking about seeing that the descriptions or points of view we’re sharing can’t help but fail to capture the whole story. What I’m pointing to doesn’t negate the usefulness, even value of endeavoring to describe what is (i.e., our points of view) and then communicating that to others. Heck, that’s what I’m doing with you now! What I’m talking about is the value of including a very important yet largely unrecognized dimension of reality, namely it’s indescribability, even as we continue (as language-using creatures) to try to characterize whatever is arising experientially.

I’m simply reporting my take on reality, which is that it cannot be definitively categorized or captured in any single descriptive, conceptual, linguistic framework. If we believe that we can (which is the prevailing view), we’re essentially fooling ourselves. Simply because we have names for things doesn’t mean we know what those things are, at least not fundamentally or definitively. My experiential exploration indicates to me that the reality of moment-to-moment experience utterly transcends any effort I might make to characterize it. Reality is simply beyond the reach of my characterizations of it—life is forever wider, deeper, vaster and more infinite than our finite concepts and language systems are capable of accommodating. As the Tao Te Ching says, “The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao…”

Q: Sharing experience is for me one of the great pleasures of living. And a lot of this comes through language.

A: As I was saying, we can of course continue to dialogue and inquire with our fellow humans about experience, characterizing conceptually and linguistically, whatever ways reality appears to us to be, all the while recognizing the dimensions of those same experiences that are far more open-ended, less definite, more ambiguous, more mysterious, less conceptual or rational than language would imply. This leaves reality as it is—totally open and un-fixed, incapable of being definitively pinned down with any philosophy, meaning-making framework, religion, ideology, or belief system. That’s the freedom inherent in everything—life is simply too wild, too free, too infinitely textured and unfathomably, inexhaustibly nuanced and subtle to ever be captured in a final or ultimate descriptive framework. We never get to the bottom of anything. And that is utterly freeing, I find.

I’m not suggesting that sitting alone blissfully in one’s own cave represents some sort of ideal, natural consequence or implication of what I’m describing (unless that is what one is drawn to do!). All I’m really saying is that the way we have historically engaged with one another has included as a central component of that engagement, the mistaken belief that language (i.e., the conceptualization of reality) actually represents reality accurately. And this hegemony of our descriptive frameworks and characterizations of reality has led to many if not most of the human problems we have faced and continue to face. If we just take psychological suffering, it is primarily the way we describe, characterize, and contextualize experience that creates what we call “suffering” rather than the experiences themselves. Fear, anxiety, insecurity… these experiences transcend (at the same time, include) all the conceptualizing and labeling of them. Once we begin to encounter in a conscious way the multidimensional, non-conceptual nature of such experiences, those same experiences that were once framed (by our descriptive labels) as solid, fixed things that we are the victims of are discovered to be impermanent, dynamic, open-ended, indescribable and ungraspable movements of reality, waves of life energy, inseparable from the whole of life. The deconstruction of those states of mind we believe represent threats to our well-being occurs naturally as we come to recognize the ultimate un-definability of those states.

To be sure we can and do use language as a hugely rich and important part of human interaction. Conversing with others is one of my greatest joys in life! But the question is how are we holding language for we can, in a sense, be held hostage by our words, imprisoned by the ways we describe and characterize the world and ourselves, believing those characterizations to be “true” representations of reality which by any other name is bondage and limitation. Humans will never stop interacting, loving, playing, and learning together and language will no doubt continue to be central in all of these endeavors. But if we recognized what I’m saying about the fundamental limitations of language to describe any aspect of human experience we would begin to open up amazing vistas of inquiry, depths of richness, multidimensionality, openness and freedom. We will discover potentialities that have heretofore remained less actualized by virtue of the ways we tend to abstract about or frame experiences that cannot ultimately be captured by our abstract, conceptual, philosophical frameworks, at least not definitively.

For me, the whole point of spiritual inquiry (or any inquiry for that matter) is to get to the heart of the matter, to find out what is true, to encounter, as much as it is humanly possible, reality as it is rather than (merely) our fantasies, projections, hopes, beliefs, and ideas about reality. I’m just reporting reality as I experience it, that every moment, from the most subtle to the most obvious, transcends any effort I might make to characterize it. This doesn’t negate the characterizations or descriptions. It merely places them in a larger context. Language and concepts are very facile. “Oh, yeah, I know what that is, it’s anxiety or it’s joy…” But what are those experiences actually, beyond the mere abstract words and concepts used to characterize or designate them? If we look with openness and curiosity, we can discover that all experiences naturally open up into an unending and ultimately unfathomable array of textures, patterns, sensations, and subtleties, an incomprehensively rich multidimensionality that is impossible to fully capture descriptively, even as these dimensionalities can be encountered experientially. The problem is that what we are frequently engaged with is a kind of caricature of life, a virtual reality comprised of this layering upon layering of commentary about experiences (including I wish this weren’t happening right now!) rather than simply directly encountering experiences in their more raw, vital, energetic, non-conceptual and infinitely multi-dimensional nature.

 

 

Comments Off.
formats

Reality: It’s Not What We Think It Is

Published on July 10, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

Words represent our understandable attempt to characterize and interpret the moments of experience. But any description—e.g., fear, joy, worry, sorrow, happiness—is inherently limited and imprecise. For while our descriptive frameworks are remarkable in their capacity to approximate reality, they can never fully capture it.  As natural as it may be for us to utilize language as a way of orienting ourselves and communicating with one another, the problem is that we mistake our linguistic, conceptual approximations of reality for reality. We imagine that we know what experiences are, forgetting that we are doing just that, imagining!

Take any experience and look directly into its nature.  What is fear, what is joy, what is worry, what is awareness, beyond the labels we give them? Look and see in a very simple, direct and easeful way whether the words we use to describe any moment adequately capture or contain the moment’s unfathomably deep, rich, subtle, multi-dimensional, multi-layered, multi-textured nature and character. Beyond what we think or imagine them to be, what are experiences, actually?  Language is like a kind of shorthand, a useful way, at least at one level, to simplify experiential realities that, in reality, belie easy classification or simplification. As natural as it may be for us to utilize language and concepts to orient ourselves, create frames of reference and also communicate with one another, the fact of the matter is that our linguistic and conceptual frameworks represent characterizations of a reality that is by it’s very nature, un-characterizable. The myriad frameworks we employ represent interpretations of something that is ultimately uninterpretable, descriptions of things that are essentially indescribable, finite and bounded definitions and characterizations of experiential realities that are, by nature, infinite and unbounded and therefore incapable of being fully or definitively characterized.

This is Reality… this is Experience… this is Us…. free from any and all final descriptions, definitions or characterizations, even as it includes them all for every description, however limited and partial, is at the same time, unlimited, every finite word and concept, ultimately inseparable from and an expression of the same infinite, unfathomable Reality they endeavor to capture and describe.

Comments Off.
formats

Personal and Impersonal

Published on July 6, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

Our distinctive personalities, tendencies, propensities, motivations, and viewpoints are like a thousand trillion “life particles” that have somehow come together in a particular way. What we are is a unique and dynamic configuring or patterning of life. The distinctive way life has arranged and continues to arrange itself is precisely what makes us, us and not some other thing. The dynamic interplay of biological and psychological forces, the ceaseless dance of thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, habits, circumstantial experiences, conditioning, and awareness constitutes the particular expression we call, “I.” We are the unique way the intelligence of life has organized itself…

To be sure, we experience ourselves as unique, individualized expressions of life. But what about life, itself? What about this vast intelligence that has assembled itself as each one of us? What is that? Speaking metaphorically, we could say that the clay of life, by virtue of its intrinsic intelligence, has fashioned itself into the myriad uniquely shaped ceramic pieces we call you, me and everything else. But what about the clay? Isn’t this also what we are, personal yet wholly impersonal, particular at the same time universal, localized yet spread across the heavens, tiny points of sky made of a vast and fathomless sky… We are, like each of the trillions upon trillions of snowflakes falling upon the earth, utterly unique and yet only ever made of pure snow, the singular light of reality dancing as a thousand different suns, the vast and incomprehensible mystery of existence, shining forth as each and every person, place and thing.

Comments Off.
formats

Reflections on the Confirmation Bias

Published on July 2, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

Despite being a man of many words (poet, songwriter, academic), I sometimes feel as if I’m fumbling around, trying to find the clearest way to convey in language, my experience of and perspective on life. However, what’s ironic is that if I were to try to boil it down, I would simply say that reality cannot, in the final analysis, ever be adequately modeled, captured or contained by any of our conceptual or linguistic frameworks, no matter how profound, poetic, or scientifically rigorous they may be. Funny enough, it is this “beyond being able to be captured by words” that best captures, in words, the way I increasingly find myself feeling and experiencing life!

The confirmation bias is, I believe, one of the most important discoveries made in the field of psychology over the past few decades. This perceptual phenomenon refers to our tendency to search out information that confirms our preconceived notions about the world and ignore or overlook those bits of data that don’t fit our prior assumptions. The confirmation bias reflects our deep-seated habit and inclination to defend and protect whatever we believe to be true (whether about our selves or life) regardless of any disconfirming evidence we might be presented with. I think a strong case can be made that freeing ourselves from the pervasive influence of this perceptual bias will go a long way toward liberating ourselves from much of the craziness, suffering and lack of well-being that continues to pervade so much of our individual and collective human experience despite the myriad strategies—psychological, spiritual, political, medical—we’ve developed over the past several thousand years to try and heal what ails us. Let me try to explain…

The reality is that in any given moment, we don’t really experience life as it is; we experience our beliefs, interpretations and descriptions about life. We are, in a very real sense hypnotized by our beliefs and ideologies about everything, caught up in the web of our own descriptive frameworks, living as it were inside a virtual world made of concepts, not reality. We believe our descriptive frameworks, imagining that they represent reality when, in fact, they are necessarily crude approximations of the rich, multidimensional complexity that is our moment-to-moment experience.

It’s all very innocent and natural, this impulse to create explanatory frameworks and develop various models of reality. It’s understandable that we humans would desire to create some sense of order, certainty and predictability in the face of the vast sea of uncertainty, uncontrollability and unpredictability we find ourselves swimming in. The problem, however (and human history illustrates this quite clearly and painfully) is that we all too often become personally and emotionally invested in these descriptive frameworks, imagining our conceptual maps and interpretive renderings to be true or actual representations of reality. And it is right there where we can see the power of the confirmation bias at work, making it that much harder for us to see beyond our cherished notions, frameworks and explanatory models, hesitant to truly open ourselves up and consider the possibility that things may be far more nuanced and multi-dimensional than we’ve imagined them to be…

It’s fairly easy to see the ways in which the confirmation bias has served to perpetuate such things as racial and gender stereotyping and prejudice. Its powerful role in human conflict is also quite clear. Whether religious, political or ideological in nature, our resistance to having our points of view about things challenged seems to know no bounds. But not only do we cling to and defend our viewpoints regarding the world, politics, religion and so forth. We also subscribe to all manner of beliefs and ideas about our own subjective experience, taking for granted that the words we use to describe what appears are somehow “true” characterizations of whatever may be arising experientially. What do I mean by this?

Let’s take the term, “tired.” Tired is really an abstraction, a conceptual rendering of what is essentially a momentary, fleeting set of perceptions and sensations. The use of any word including “tired” represents an understandable yet ultimately futile attempt to capture in language, the myriad textures, patterns and flavors that constitute human experience. To be sure, the use of language can function at one level to help distinguish one type of patterning of life energy (“tired”) from another (e.g., “exhilarated”). But if we inquire experientially into any phenomena, in this example, feeling tired, we’ll find that “tired” isn’t exactly what we imagine it to be. Beyond the conceptual label we give it, beyond the verbal descriptor, what exactly is this flow of experiencing we label as, “tired”? Can we really say? Or when we inquire into it experientially, when we dive directly into the raw energy of this thing called “being tired” rather than reflexively referring to the conceptual label to tell us what the experience is, we are left with something far less definite, something in fact quite elusive, a phenomenon (or set of phenomena) that while totally present and undeniable, is at the same time, impossible to grasp hold of or pin down definitively. To be sure, things appear, and we have descriptive labels that we use to refer to them. But the reality is that each momentary perception utterly transcends any effort to define or characterize it.

Another way to understand what’s being pointed to here is that every phenomenal state is both conceptual and non-conceptual in nature. Everything that is experienced has its descriptive label (e.g., tired, fearful, happy, anxious) on the one hand and yet at the same time, each of these phenomena are in fact, utterly beyond our capacity to describe them, fully.  Put another way, we could say that every phenomena has two aspects—its sheer existence (i.e., presence) and its description (i.e., conceptual label).  At a descriptive level, such things as fear, tiredness, and joy certainly exist. However, these things are, at the same time, unknowable, beyond any possibility of being fully captured descriptively. In other words, we can never quite get to the bottom line of what things actually are.

Now this may all sound terribly abstract and lacking in any sort of practical relevance to our lives. But consider this—the very states (e.g., fear, sorrow, insecurity, anxiety, discomfort, uncertainty) that have plagued and tormented human beings for millennia are not, in fact, merely what they appear to be.  We’ve imagined that these momentary flashes of experiencing labeled as fear or anxiety actually require some remedy, fix or cure. But what fuels this persistent view is our belief in the substantive nature of such states (the idea that they are actually “things” that can harm us). And this belief is a direct product of the ways in which such patterns of life energy are characterized, conceptually and linguistically including the myriad stories we layer on top of such phenomena, most notably the idea that such states are problematic in the first place!

We could call this, the mother of all cognitive biases, this idea that because we have words and definitions for things and experiences, we actually know definitively what these things or experiences actually are:

“Oh yes, I know what tired is. It’s, well a feeling.”

“Okay, but what is a feeling?”

“Well, it’s a set of distinct sensations in the body.”

“Alright then, but what is a sensation?”

“Well… hmmm… I’m not exactly sure. It’s kind of hard to define or describe actually…”

“Exactly!”

At a certain point, we simply run out of ways to characterize what is arising experientially. We come to find that we can’t actually definitively characterize our experience. It’s too wild, too dynamic, too boundless, too multidimensional and too open-ended to ever pin down or define. Yes, at one level, reality is precisely what we say it is. Tired is tired. Fear is fear. Happiness is happiness, and so on. At the same time, our experiences are forever transcending any effort we might make to explain, define, or otherwise characterize them. And so we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of this beautiful, awe-inspiring paradox—we know what things are on the one hand (their descriptive labels), and yet we also don’t know what they are for everything is inherently uncertain and indeterminate. All there is is pure, wide-open, ungraspable mystery, through and through.

Undoubtedly, we cling to our descriptive, explanatory models and frameworks (i.e., the confirmation bias) because they give us some sense of safety, security and certainty. And so to allow all those frameworks to be held lightly (as provisional frames of reference rather than absolute truths) can be a pretty scary, even terrifying proposition to consider, a place that feels like no place at all for quite literally, the seemingly firm, predictable ground of all our knowledge and definitions, the very ground that we once imagined could be counted on has given way and we now find ourselves in a free fall of indeterminacy and multidimensionality, never quite landing anywhere firm. But right there is our greatest liberation, the freedom from any and all fixed frameworks. No longer the false or imagined security that all our labels, definitions and conceptualizations seemed to bring us but the true security, the true ground, which is really no ground at all, a kind of groundless ground we could say, this exhilarating free fall into reality, every miraculous instant known yet unfathomable, experienced yet ungraspable.

 

Comments Off.
formats

The Magic Show of Phenomena

Published on June 16, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

In many if not most spiritual teachings (including, ironically, those described as non-dual), the message is more often than not portrayed in terms of opposed frameworks. For example, self vs. no-self, freedom vs. bondage, limitation vs. unboundedness, conceptual vs. non-conceptual and so on. However, while such frameworks may have some conceptual reality and even value, our direct experience seems to encompass both sides of the seeming dualistic divide.

Take the great spiritual bogeyman, “the self.” A sense of being an individual, a person, a unique self, separate from other unique selves is unquestionably something that is experienced. There is no denying the felt sense of individuality, the feeling of being a subject encountering a world of objects. And yet, when we go to find this seemingly substantial thing called a self, we come up empty-handed. We feel bounded. And yet no clear boundaries can be found, no lines dividing this from that, or self from other. The self-sense is experienced but no substantial self can actually be pinpointed or located. All that can be found is a dynamic flow of thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories (and even those elements that constitute what we call self cannot themselves be found to exist either, at least not as bounded, clearly identifiable or discrete “things”).

So, we experience the sense of being a separate, unique, individual. And yet, when looked for the phenomena (of self, separation, etc.) cannot be found to exist. I call it the magic show of phenomena—things appear to (and from one vantage do) exist. And yet they cannot actually be found when looked for. Experiential phenomena are “here” at the same time NOT here. I guess the fairest thing we can say is that phenomena (including the self) neither exist nor don’t exist. In other words, the world is non-dual (i.e., “not-two”). It’s not that there either is or is not a self. That’s dualism. It that there is both the presence and absence of a self. This seems, to the dualistically-inclined conceptual mind to be an unresolvable contradiction. And yet it is precisely our experience. We seem to exist as separate selves but no separate self can ever be found. Here but not here, existence and non-existence co-occurring simultaneously. It’s the same with our myriad states of mind—fear, joy, sorrow, bliss—like rainbows, they appear with great vividness but when looked for, cannot be found to exist, at least not as we imagined.

Think of the self like a point in the sky—distinct, a localization of experiencing but at the same time, indivisible from the rest of the sky. Unique waves… yet simultaneously, the vast and boundless sea.

Comments Off.
formats

Why This Passion for Sharing

Published on May 28, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

In my last book, Searching for Rain in a Monsoon, I offered a series of meditative inquiries that focused on three themes: a) relaxing our efforts to manipulate/control the flow of perceptions; b) recognizing that our moment-to-moment experience is not capable of being captured by any of our descriptive/conceptual frameworks; and, c) becoming experientially familiar with basic awareness—the faculty of knowing that registers all experience—and seeing its inseparability from all perceptual phenomena.

At the end of the book, I offered a postscript, reflecting on what I’d come to see as the profound benefits of engaging in such “practices” and why I feel as passionate as I do about sharing and inviting others into this experiential inquiry, whether through my writing, music, teaching or research.

1. By relaxing our efforts to manipulate experience, we increasingly feel a sense of “at-home-ness” in the midst of whatever thoughts, feelings and sensations may be occurring, even those conventionally labeled as “negative.”

2. The less we seek fulfillment in some future moment, the more deeply we are able to appreciate how much is already present, how rich, how remarkable, and how miraculous each instant of life actually is.

3. As we relax the habit of trying to rearrange our thoughts, feelings and sensations in order to feel a greater sense of wellbeing or fulfillment, we gain familiarity with a different “order” or domain of well-being, one that is not defined by the presence or absence of particular experiences but is recognized to be present in and as the very flow of experiencing itself.

4. The more we come to see that our thoughts are simply interpretations of rather than absolutely true statements about the nature of reality, the less we are locked into, identified with or beholden to our points of view. This in turn leads to more open-mindedness, a relaxing of the habitual tendency to reflexively defend our ideas and ideologies, and greater cognitive and emotional flexibility.

5. The more we recognize that experiences can never be adequately captured by any of our conceptual, philosophical, or linguistic frameworks, the more we discover something about ourselves (and life) that lies utterly beyond any and all descriptions and interpretations, an unfathomable, mysterious, and ineffable depth.

6. That which is aware of this moment is naturally open to it; what is aware of experiences is effortlessly accepting those experiences; and that which is aware of the arising and passing away of phenomena is not struggling with those phenomena. And so, as we bring attention to awareness itself, these naturally occurring qualities (i.e., openness, acceptance, non-struggle) tend to come more and more alive in our direct experience.

7. As we recognize that no clear lines of division can be found experientially between awareness and its phenomenal content, we become more aware of another dimension of our humanness, namely an aspect of us that is unbounded, without division or separation, and freed from the tyranny of self-focus and its energy draining project of propping up, defending and protecting itself from whatever it imagines might threaten its psychological integrity and security. The recognition that what we call “self” is not as substantial, fixed or bounded as we imagined frees up tremendous energy as the habitual grasping and striving to obtain satisfaction for that imagined self, relaxes.

Comments Off.
formats

The Olympic Athlete Model of Awakening

Published on March 24, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

Awakening or spiritual realization (aka enlightenment) is variously described as the discovery that reality is singular, unitary or non-dual in nature. The prevailing belief is that such realization is a long and arduous path, one requiring years and years of intensive practice. However, there exists another, altogether different view expressed in a number of contemplative traditions that the discovery of inseparability or oneness is actually the easiest of all discoveries to make for one simple reason and that is that the world is always and already that way! Reality is not divided and never has been, period. There simply are no lines of separation, anywhere to be found.

For a moment, just look for yourself and see if this is not the case. See if you can find a seam in the universe of your experience, a clear line demarcating this from that, a boundary separating one thing from another, dividing one moment from the next. Are there any seams or lines anywhere? Or is there only this vast, undivided field of experiencing, utterly seamless, by its very nature? Look and it can be plainly seen that all there is, is inseparability. And so realizing that reality is undivided MUST be the easiest thing in the world since it is already the nature of every moment and experience, right? Nothing need be done to make reality what it is—seamlessly whole, free of even one iota of separation or division. If one wants to argue that it takes practice to realize this, then let that practice be to simply see that this is already the case, to look and see that no seams can be found anywhere, that indivisibility is simply the way things have always been, the way WE have always been!

The prevailing view suggests what I sometimes like to call the “olympic athlete” model of enlightenment. In this model, realizing the inseparable, undivided nature of life (union or “yoga”) is believed to require years of rigorous, disciplined effort and practice in much the same way that developing mastery in some other area of life does (e.g., sports, music, science, art). One is not, for example, born a virtuoso guitarist or world-class athlete. No, one must develop such capacities and mastery. But if we say enlightenment represents the realization of inseparability, well, the olympic athlete-virtuoso model really doesn’t apply for inseparability isn’t actually a skill that one must develop (like playing the piano, shooting a basketball or hitting a golf ball) but is instead, already and simply the way reality is. One can look and look and look and never recognize that they can already play the saxophone like Charley Parker or hit a golf ball like Tiger Woods. No, they must practice for many hours a day for many, many years if they are to realize such virtuosity. But when it comes to recognizing the singular, non-dual nature of reality, no skill is required. Instead, one can simply look and see that inseparability is, right now, with no practice necessary, already given, already the case, already fully, one hundred percent the way life is. The way you already are…

Comments Off.
formats

The Luminosity of Night

Published on March 16, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

unnamed

 

 

 

 

 

It would not
be possible
to point
to a single
moment
of slumber
were it not
for the
constancy
of this
wakefulness.

Comments Off.
formats

Reflections on Meditation

Published on March 16, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

I was reflecting on meditation the other day, something I have practiced, taught and done research on for decades, and the following way to characterize two quite distinct approaches to meditation occurred to me.

In one version, which in my experience characterizes 99.99% of all meditation techniques taught and also studied by the scientific community, there is an attempt, even if exceedingly subtle, to move from Point A (one’s present mind-body state) to Point B (whatever state we aspire to be in). This imagined state we wish to travel to (Point B) might be described in any number of ways: happier, more peaceful and content, more mindful or awake, less self-identified and so on. But regardless of how Point B might be construed, that in a nutshell is meditation as it is almost universally understood and practiced—the journey from Point A to B, from “here” to “there.”

Now irrespective of how we may characterize it, a key thing to consider is why we even seek to get from Point A to Point B in the first place. At one level, I think the answer is quite simple—we set out on this journey because we imagine that whatever it is we hope to find by arriving at Point B is somehow absent from where we presently reside (Point A). But the question is, is that actually true, or could it be that everything we’re seeking in Point B is already present, right where we find ourselves, now. No traveling necessary! Which brings us to the second approach to meditation and that is this: Instead of journeying to some other place (our metaphoric Point B), we remain right where we are, at Point A. That’s it! Regardless of how lofty or rarefied we may imagine Point B to be, in this style of meditation, we employ no effort to travel anywhere. We simply rest in and as Point A, however Point A may appear or be described.

So, with those two distinctive approaches in mind, next time you sit to practice this thing called “meditation,” just consider this: Is it necessary (even very, very subtly) to move away from Point A to arrive somewhere else? Or can you simply remain right where you are, ever cognizant of the fact that this “place” or “moment” you now find yourself in, is forever moving and shapeshifting into the next thing.

And who knows, as you experiment with this other approach (remaining at Point A), you might just discover that there never really was a discrete state or place called “Point A” (or “Point B”) to begin with but only ever this ceaseless, indescribable flow of experiencing. No points or locations anywhere to be found.

Comments Off.