The principle of meditation is really quite simple—quiet you mind.
So, let’s take this principle to its extreme limits, as if these three words—quiet your mind—were the only available instructions on how to meditate.
We are going to assume that everything you need in order to reach Self-realization (which is after all the purpose of meditation) you already possess. There is no knowledge, no technique, no posture, no training. There is only you.
When you realize that 99.999% of the contents of your mind are sensory-dependent, it becomes immediately obvious what you have to do. Turn off your senses, deny your thoughts, and die. Not literally, of course, but in the sense that Saint Paul meant when he said, “I die daily.” He could just as easily said, “I meditate daily.” You leave this world and grope your way, perhaps blindly, into the next.
I’m not saying that this is the only way to meditate, but I am saying that unless you start here, all you will ever be able to do is to explore the mind and the products thereof. No liberation, no enlightenment, no Self-realization. You have to “die.” And out of that death, you will rise. Sound familiar?
Let’s call it the “Easter Principle.” That takes it off the calendar and into reality. This presupposes that you understand that things like Easter, Christmas, Hanukkah, and every other high holy day are more than historical events that we celebrate once a year. To think that—and that only—is to miss the point.
Easter comes in Spring. We know that. But what is Spring? It is “that time of year” when Life Rises. If you’ve ever been on a farm during Spring, you know what I mean. Life starts busting out all over! So, what is “Spring” in the way we’re talking about? If it’s not a “time of the year,” what is it?
The day of equinox has a kind of square aspect to it, which means that some kind of energy is being laid on hot and heavy. Energy for a purpose. Energy that’s going to change things. It’s the same kind of energy that we experience any time we get close to the God Being within. As in meditation. Get close to That, and all hell’s gonna break loose. Literally. The kundalini is going to jump, and it’s going to jump UP. And every little chakra that lies in its path is going to be visited. To the kundalini, those chakras look like doors, and it’s going to knock on each and every one of them.
Unless, of course, one of the doors opens.
I mean, what would you do? It’s nighttime, you’ve been stuck indoors for such a long time, and finally this jolt of energy comes over you and you bust out. You don’t know where the energy came from—you don’t need to know. All you know is that it’s time to MOVE.
The first door you come to (actually, it’s the second, but who’s counting) looks quite interesting. You look in the window and THERE’S A PARTY GOING ON IN THERE! What luck, right? And convenient. Who in their right mind would pass that up? But, all of a sudden, a big hand comes down out of nowhere and blocks the door. You try to get around it but it’s no use. You can’t get in. You feel despised, rejected. Oh, the suffering. There’s nothing to do but move on.
Door after door, the same big hand blocks your way. It feels like lifetimes! But you keep moving UP, and the higher you get the tighter the squeeze, until finally you come to the Last Door. Actually, it looks more like a skylight. And around the edges of it you can see this brilliant light trying to get through. What is that? By now, you are so determined to get somewhere that you throw yourself against this final door and…it opens!
None of this could have happened if one of the lower doors had opened, if that big hand hadn’t blocked your way. You would have taken up residence there for who knows how long. Maybe lifetimes. But you didn’t, you couldn’t, so you made it out—into the light.
Somewhere in our strivings to realize the Self, we muster enough will power to resist the temptation to stop moving UP. It’s that will power that keeps us from taking the first easy exit. Meditation is the daily reenactment of this inner journey. Only, in meditation, we consciously choose to ignore every little interesting thing that arises in the mind. More than just say it, we powerfully assert, “Not this, not that.” We close each door ourselves. And not just the big doors, but all the little ones too—the ones that show up as ideas, as body sensations, as memories, as people. We shut the door on those as well.
Each denial is a denial of self. Not the big-S Self, but the little self, the one that’s made up of all your likes and dislikes, your fears and your desires, your rights and your wrongs, your ups and your downs. All of it. It’s like dying. But, you persist, even unto death. It feels like someone stealing the shirt off your back, and in response you give them your jacket also. It’s like your boss making you work overtime without pay, and so you work even longer than he asks. It doesn’t matter, because you’re dead anyway. You’ve died to all that. You have no more resistance left in you.
Lent is “that time of year” when we close some doors. We say no to our barnyard instincts and hold out for something better. WAY better. After all, if not now, when?
Great post Michael. I love the pictures too. “You have no resistance left in you.” That’s a profound truth, and a great “posture.”
Brilliant! As I develop human photosynthesis practice, so much of what you articulated comes into play. Loved the pix too, especially the laid-out cat.
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“Thinkest thou, O seeker for wisdom, that thou bringest thyself into the Light by thy own search?
Men think they seek me, but it is I who seek them. No other seeker is there than myself, and when I find my own, the pain of questing is at an end.” – Book of Tokens
Nice topic for the end of the the month of Aquarius, The Star of Meditation. There are two wills, one an illusion the other, the One Reality
I’d love to shout what you have written on the rooftops!! Love the cat in savasana! I now do this daily at the end of my 6am yoga practice – great way to start the day.
re-read this. No easy task to quiet the mind. I’ve learned that the faster the ‘blah blah’ starts to race, the more intent I become to slow down. Still in process of perfecting the intention of completely standing still, but close to stillness these days.
Our body plays such a strong part in the way our mind works. Quieting one seems to quiet the other. The traditional way to still our thinking is through breathwork— paying attention to our breathing, without effort as though we are just letting our body idle like a car. Another way I have found is to generate an intense listening, as when a loud and unexpected noise suddenly grabs our attention. In such moments, the mind is completely quiet, straining for any information it can acquire to assess a possible threat. It’s a kind of radical mindfulness that we can recreate for the purpose of bringing our incessant mental chattering to a standstill.