Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mind Blowing

What is the point of meditation? Why do people do it? Some people say they meditate because they want to calm down, or concentrate better, or lower their blood pressure. These are all great reasons, but I view them as side benefits. The real point of my meditation practice is to blow my mind.

I heard a discourse the other day that said when we contemplate the infinite our brain short circuits and that's what causes liberation. Liberation in this sense means my consciousness becomes one with the Cosmic Consciousness. Something about hearing that discourse, which I've paraphrased, really struck me because it's true.

My mind can't comprehend infinity. In fact, my mind can't even comprehend a billion. I don't know what a billion looks like, even when it's broken down into an analogy such as, “A billion pencils would wrap around the Earth's equator twice,” or whatever. All I know is that a billion is a big number.

The mind, like a balloon, can only grow so much until it pops.
The mind, like a balloon, can only expand so much until it pops.

However, by thinking about infinity, my mind gets blown. My mind can't conceive of infinity, my mind expands, and I experience liberation. It's like a balloon – the balloon can only blow up so much before it pops. In other words, the point of meditation is to pop my mind like a balloon. This is a fairly universal concept, by the way. In Zen Buddhism, koans are employed for this purpose. An example of a koan is, “What's the sound of one hand clapping?” The point of koans to me seems to be to exhaust the analytic intellect and the ego to get to the “God mind” underneath. We all have an intuitive self, a “God mind” if you will, and the point of meditation is to keep growing that God mind until the God mind is all that's left.

I have to say, contemplating the sound of one hand clapping would frustrate me to no end. I think I would sputter in rage and frustration and never try such deep rumination again. Thank goodness I don't have to because I have a mantra. A mantra in the original sense of the word, means a word or phrase that liberates the mind. This would be a word or phrase to blow the mind, if you will. Popular mantras these days are Om Namah Shivaya, Hare Krsna, etc. because the thinking is if a person meditates on God-like beings, Shiva and Krsna, namely, that the person's mind will expand, and they too, will experience liberation.

What's cool about this is I don't have to die first or be a different person before I can experience liberation. Liberation happens because I focus on the infinite in the form of a mantra. That's pretty mind blowing when you think about it.

I dream of a world where we all blow our minds. A world where we are no longer limited by our human brains. A world where we keep progressing and keep expanding internally until there is no longer a container that can hold us.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Won't You Stay?

I live in a very transient area. People move here and move away all the time. It's one of the most painful aspects of living here, especially for a person like me who clings to people like a barnacle. “Don't leave me! Stay!” Except, the thing is, even if a person is physically present, it doesn't mean they're emotionally present, or that they'll be emotionally present all the time. Well crap. What's a person to do?

I'm going to pass on a secret: Be there for yourself. Counter to all the messages we're being fed, the solution to fears of abandonment is not to find that one perfect person to spend the rest of our life with. The solution is to give that to ourselves. To say to myself, “Rebekah, I'm here. I'm not going anywhere, I'm not ever going anywhere. I'll stay.” People, and pets for that matter, come into and out of our lives, but the two constant presences are ourselves and the Supreme. My spiritual teacher says God is our one true friend, our constant, forever companion. But how often are we nurturing these relationships? How often are we instead taking them for granted?

Won't you stay? Oh, I have to be there for me? Oh, right.

One of the most powerful messages I've gleaned from being in recovery is that I'm in a relationship with my Higher Power. That God is not Santa Claus, rewarding me when I'm good and punishing me when I'm bad. And that just like any other relationship, we need to spend time together to improve it. We need to communicate with one another, to talk and to listen. It's easy to neglect the relationship because it's always there, to take it for granted, but I'm reminded again, it's one of the most important relationships in my life.

The other most important relationship in my life is the one with me. Am I here for me? Am I taking care of me? Am I treating myself like a friend? Saying nice things to myself, encouraging myself, forgiving myself for mistakes? My inclination is to turn outward, to focus on outside relationships, other people, what they're doing, what they're saying, how they feel. My meditation practice, however, is about turning inward, asking instead what am I doing, what am I saying, how do I feel?

A few weeks ago I went to a group meditation and I'm the only one that showed up. I know, that sounds weird because if no one showed up then it was solo meditation, but the intention was to meditate with others. I felt so awkward, sitting in a space that belongs to a friend, meditating alone when usually I'm surrounded by others. But then the awkwardness faded as I felt the presence of my Higher Power, and the presence of me. Instead of being by myself, I was with myself. No longer did I feel alone because I had me and I had my Higher Power. It was one of the sweetest meditations I've experienced for awhile. So in answer to the question, “Won't you stay?” the answer is yes, Rebekah, I will.

I dream of a world where we develop the relationships with ourselves and with the divine. A world where we feel the presence of us and something greater than us. A world where we remember we are never alone because we have our one true companion by our side.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Good and Evil Tug of War

I've been thinking about good and evil a lot lately. Maybe because I'm re-watching Star Wars with friends. What I find interesting is how so often people liken the forces of good and evil as a devil or angel on our shoulder where one force eventually wins out. I think good and evil is more nuanced than that, and liken each to either end of a tug of war battle. That also means when a person is closer to the middle, as in neither side has a clear victory, both sides tug harder for dominance. This isn't just speculation, by the way, I notice the good and evil tug of war manifesting in the real world. Not only as a voice in my head, but in tangible ways.

For example, here's something that happened earlier this week that's not evil, but was clearly not engaging with the force of good. I noticed my neighbor's plums fall over the fence that separates our properties. My neighbor is on the down slope of a hill and they will never be able to reach the plums that grow on my side of the fence because it's too high and there's a barrier. But because I'm higher up, those plums hang at a perfect level for me to pick them. The very top of their tree is about two feet above my head; in other words, the perfect picking height.

The "forbidden fruit," if you will.
The "forbidden fruit," if you will.

As I glanced out my window, I noticed ripe plums rotting on the ground. “Just look at those ripe plums going to waste!” I said. “How could I let that happen? Besides, those plums sit on my side of the fence, so is it really stealing? I mean, what's ownership anyway.” With all those thoughts in mind, I started picking those plums, and wouldn't you know it, a piece of dirt or perhaps a small rock flew into my eye. Ladies and gentlemen, the force of good communicating to me that, yes, it still counts as stealing. It is no coincidence I experienced pain after my somewhat-questionable actions.

The force of good shows up in other ways too. When our hearts start to pound, or our hands begin to sweat when we know we're engaging in nefarious behavior, that's the force of good saying, “Hey, maybe rethink this.” There are some people that ignore those messages though. What happens in those situations is the force of good exerts itself less and less, which makes sense because in a tug of war battle, if one side is likely to win, the other stops pulling as hard.

Unlike in real tug of war though, neither good nor evil stops pulling. They're very persistent those two. That means there's always a chance for redemption. My spiritual teacher was such a believer in redemption that his first disciple was a known thief. In fact, my teacher taught the guy meditation after the thief pulled out a dagger and threatened to rob and kill my teacher! After the meditation lesson, the thief gave up his old ways and really turned over a new leaf. So, yeah, there's always a chance for good. Similarly though, there's always a chance for evil.

I guess what I'm saying here is it's easy to get complacent. To think, “I'm a good person so I would never do that,” or “I'm such a screw up, there's no hope for me,” but neither are true. There's a thin line between good and evil and it's easy to start moving in either direction, which I think is illustrated quite well in Star Wars. Maybe we need to adopt Mad-Eye Moody's motto from the Harry Potter books and maintain “Constant vigilance!”

I dream of a world where we pay attention to what we're doing. A world where we understand when the universe is trying to communicate with us, to encourage us to side with the force of good, and we do so. A world where we understand there's not a lot of difference between good and evil so it's up to us to decide which side of the tug of war battle we'd like to be on.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Why I Typically Don't Unfriend People

First of all, I want to say I'm not judging other people for unfriending or unfollowing. There are some people who don't deserve the pleasure of our company because they cause us harm physically, mentally, or emotionally. I'm using the topic of unfriending as an entry point to discuss a spiritual concept.

In this day and age, it's easy to surround ourselves solely with people who feel the way we do. Dissolving a friendship is as easy as clicking a button or ignoring a text message. If we don't like something someone has to say, we don't have to listen to it. But at what cost?

Click, click, friendship OVER.
Click, click, friendship OVER. 

I read an article recently about how a liberal professor is terrified by his liberal students. He said, “The student-teacher dynamic has been re-envisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.”

He goes on to say he once saw an adjunct professor not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to "offensive" texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. The adjunct's response that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only “fueled the students' ire and sealed his fate,” according to the professor.

What surprised me even more as I read the article was learning Oxford canceled an abortion debate because it would have imperiled the "welfare and safety of our students." Have we become so obsessed with maintaining comfort that we can't allow any differences of opinion? That we're not open to having our ideas questioned?

From a spiritual perspective, when we start cutting ourselves off from others, when we start making judgment calls about who's right, who's wrong, and what's good, what's bad, we move further away from the divine. If the goal of my life is to experience a sense of one-ness with God, then I can't practice separateness. My spiritual teacher says those who follow the path of the divine “do not acknowledge the baneful and delusory classifications created by society,” because those classifications contribute to crudeness and staticity, to engaging more with Prakrti than consciousness, which then in turn “speeds unhampered in the innermost recesses of the heart.”

Again, some people deserve to be loved from afar, but they aren't any less deserving of love and respect. And those who are good people, but who have different opinions from us? There are many treasures to be found in those friendships. I have some dear friends who do not share my views on things like diet and religion, but instead of letting those differences divide us, we work to find our similarities instead. There is something amazing and sublime about finding the ways in which we are the same instead of pointing out how we're different. And sublime is where I'm at these days.

I dream of a world where we have more tolerance for differences. A world where we seek to find what unites us instead of divides us. A world where we're not so quick to cut ourselves off from people. A world where we seek one-ness in as many ways as we can.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.