Wednesday, April 18, 2007
More on meditation and some spiritual principles
Wrote that whole previous blog “what’s all this about meditation?” and neglected to say how to do it. Turns out my mom gets hit up for advice on the subject:
“The high school and jr. high students are always asking me how to meditate...
I have often ended up telling them, "stare at a candle flame and relax and throw the thoughts that come to you into the flame." Finally, one day, I said to keep repeating Ohhhhm and that will help other thoughts to stop, and , etc.....
Only I think it's spelled "Aummm". Hmmmm.”
I don’t think the spelling matters that much. OM, It’s a word representing the primal sound, the first sound-- the sound, when uttered by God, which started all of existence. Spelling was invented later. I tell you what, it’s that kind of simplicity that I like, even though I enjoyed getting a religious studies degree, so often it’s the simple things which work best.
Why would a person want to throw their thoughts into a candle flame and utter OM? Because so often we confuse our thoughts with reality, or with our own identity. Conscious thoughts are so often verbal, an internal monologue, and you might want your consciousness to transcend language at least for a little while. OM is more sound than language, and what it represents, to me anyway, is an acknowledgment of something larger than personal consciousness, and an intention to return to that original, primal utterance that all possibilities derive from.
I wrote something back in June 2006 that Sheryl found while digging through her emails and deleting stuff. She thought I should share it.
Some spiritual principles and practices that I like:
Forgive absolutely everyone for absolutely everything, including yourself. There may well be people from your past who have done you wrong, never apologized or “repented”. Or there may be people who have done you wrong who have apologized, but you never really got over it. It’s not for them that you forgive, it’s for you. You have no choice other than to continue to suffer if you refuse to forgive. Any old unforgiven deeds, even small ones, they register in your consciousness and continue to trap you. So forgive others, and forgive yourself.
Life is full of mistakes and learning, and you are not the karma master of anyone, it’s out of your hands. Forgive and be glad that you can forgive, it’s a gift, It is grace, and we all deserve some grace.
If you're really stuck and can't forgive, try imagining that under the right circumstances, you could do the very thing that you currently find unforgiveable. Beleive it, and then forgive yourself.
Practice extending unconditional love outward from yourself--to everyone and everything. Why not? Do you have something better to do than that? What could be better than pouring love from yourself without waiting for a reason to do so?
Try to be in the moment, always. Most instances of not being in the moment can be classified as “worrying.” This is not to say that you shouldn’t plan for the future, or never reflect on the past. Just know that you are constantly in the act of creation, as a participant. If you are actively thinking about the past or possible future, be aware of your own mind and cognizant of what you are doing right now. Write down your future plans if necessary, then let them slip away from your mind. Come to grips with your past, and then let that reflection on the past slip away quietly, come back to the now and be empty.
Sex is not something to feel guilty about, it’s not wrong , bad, dirty or forbidden nor is it separate from the spiritual, nothing is. It’s ok to be having sex, and it’s ok to abstain from it. We’re made to enjoy sex but we also are made to have our own selection process about who and what we do. Be OK with your own process and your choices.
Meditation is important to quiet the mind, but stimulating the mind is important too, and even sometimes overstimulating it. In fact some people find what they really need by overstimulating, over working and exhausting the conscious mind. Some spiritual practices are based upon pushing human endurance until the still point is acheived. The mind needs challenge, but it also needs to have the background information wiped away clean like a blackboard. That’s the most basic aspect of meditation. People need to understand that the quiet mind is not only possible, but actually easy, and takes no time to reach. The noise in the mind is due to attachments, and when the attachments are gone the natural state is silence.
Attachments are related to desire, and desires are always voluntary. Sometimes desire is manifested as a negative:” I don’t want this.” “I wish it weren’t so” or, “Man, I suck at meditating, and this is stupid anyway.” Quit if you want to, nobody is making you do this. But you do need to know that desires are like heavy weights that we pick up and carry of our own volition. Attachments are like chains.
The state of emptiness is very pleasant, persistent, good for your health. It’s a very beneficial place to be. It’s not emptiness like hunger, it’s more like total peace. It’s not boring, and there is a reason that meditative states of mind are called “ecstatic.” Nobody is making this stuff up, it’s real. Having an empty mind is not being an “air head” its’ about stillness when no activity is required, it’s about centeredness in the perpetual moment.
Judgment versus discrimination: Discriminating is a natural part of perception. Judgment is when values are overlaid onto perceived discriminating factors. Trust your senses and perceptions, but be aware of your judgments. In all these things, don’t force yourself to go against your nature, but be aware, and know that it is kinder to be understanding and accepting.
Austere measures are not necessary, and when the Buddha spoke of the middle way, he knew what he was talking about. It’s not necessary nor beneficial to deny yourself, food, sleep or any of life’s simple pleasures. It doesn’t make you a better person to deny yourself. As you progress along your path, you may discover that desires and attachments are diminishing, and you simply don’t need very much in order to experience real happiness. But you can be very spiritual and still enjoy a hot fudge sunday, these things are not mutually exclusive.