Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The resistance of the everywhere

I went to see a play last night called 'Afterlife' by Michael Frayne. I was particularly interested in the opening lines of the play which were something along the lines of 'the human condition does not allow for the experience of our infinite possibilities', this may not be the exact quote but it captures the essence of what the spiritual path is about. It's about no longer being fooled that we think we know who we are. It is seeing through the thoughts and feelings to the essence that lies underneath. This realization that we are not our thoughts and feelings doesn't come through the mind but through the no-mind - largely through meditation and or reflection. But it is this that the mind will do anything to avoid. I understand that this is the reason why I find meditation so hard, the mind doesn't want it so when I sit down to meditate I will suddenly find more thoughts than I ever have when I'm not meditating, paradoxical as that might read.

I was struck by a conversation that two of the women were having behind me at the interval last night. One was analysing the play, commenting on where bits of it could be cut and I could see immediately what was happening. The mind could not allow quiet at such a critical time. The process of evaluating, judging, commenting all prevent the state of reflection and receptivity that would give the space for spiritual insights and understanding. The mind that cannot be still and absorb without commenting and evaluating can never be peaceful. I once asked my friend who has a beautiful garden with the most gorgeous of flowers which he has lovingly tendered whether he ever looked at the flowers without there being anything in his mind, without any thoughts of 'how well they're doing', what needs to be done etc. To look and be absorbed without any involvement from the mind. His answer to me was 'no'. This setting one thing against the other and the forming of opinions is used by the mind to prevent the quietness that is essential for spiritual development. I was so struck by how much this person's analysing of the play seemed to inhibit her enjoyment. For me, I just became absorbed and in that absorption I was aware that there was 'no thought' and in that space of 'no thought' is peace.

So be vigilant over this impulse of the mind to evaluate, comment, form opinions and see it for it is the desperate attempts of a mind that fears for its survival. It is not concerned about spiritual knowledge or awakening. If it has to do this it will largely do it by reading and then creating alot of intellectual thoughts about whatever is being read, complicating it so that it gets lost in the analysis instead of seeing the spiritual journey and its insights as simple. The more the mind can complicate something the better it likes it. I find this strongly when I attend conferences that are put on by the Scientific and Medical Network of which I am a member. I have a long and strong fascination with the brain and I assert that much of what is termed the spiritual journey is down to shifts and changes in brain activity and behaviour. Because I call myself a spiritual scientist I listen eagerly to the latest brain theories but I am also struck by how sterile and how mind controlled such discussions are.

But as I have said before, this is all a game, and there is nothing ominous in the game, it is fun. It is a game between the non-self and the self where each wants to win. The non-self wins if we get to the end of our life and we haven't been able to experience the Self which comes about when we no longer see the non-self as who we are. The Self wins if there is a freedom, joy and ease brought about realizing the transitory and non-permanent nature of the non-self. But either way, it is only a game, a game of hide and seek.........


Mark said...

Thank you. I have been experiencing a mounting inner restlessness I can't seem to meditate away, and you helped name it for me at least.

In fact your posting reminded me of something I heard recently in a lecture given by the Quaker historian, Rex Ambler :

"I think, therefore I'm a very, very long way from where I am!"

Descarte's spinning in his grave but I figured this might make you smile too.

Margaret Dempsey said...

Hello Mark

Thank you very much for your comment. It has prompted me to write a response. In my opinion the only obstacle to enlightenment is the mind with its products of thoughts. The state of enlightenement is that of a mind with no thoughts if such a thing is possible. When an experience of stillness is reported, what often comes along with it is the lack of thoughts.

Last night in London I went to a lecture on spiritual emergence. This is where the consciousness shifts as a result of energy rising from the depths of the body to enable new spiritual insights and realizations to occur. It is this shift of consciousness that characterizes spiritual awakening.

It is this process of spiritual awakening which the mind is hell bent on preventing. This is the source of resistance. Resistance is nothing but the mind using its resources which are thoughts to stop this process from happening.

Usually in my everyday life I don't have that many thoughts. However the moment that I sit down to meditate the thoughts seem to come so thick and fast and are about everything and anything. I recognise this as my mind doing all it can to prevent me from experiencing a state of one-ness. It does this because having this experience dissolves the mind with its thoughts, leaving the space of nothing or stillness.

The first thought of the mind was 'I' and on that everything else is built. To achieve the state of enlightenement it is necessary to follow the 'I' back to its source and see that it arose out of the universal one-ness that is now being sought.

I deal with resistance by accepting that this is what so. I build on those moments of silence and periods of no-thought so that they become stronger.

Resistance instead of being fought against is best welcomed because it shows that there is something that is shifting. The mounting inner restlessness you describe is a sign of the tension between the mind and its thoughts which form the ego and the soul which is working towards the state of spiritual awakening and eventually enlightenment.

I so agree and did smile with your sentence about thinking being the reason why we are a long way from the state of enlightenment. There is nothing wrong with thinking and thoughts as long as we understand that we have thoughts, they are not who we are. If we always keep this in mind, then someday this assertion will be the reality. Recognise I have thoughts, I am not thoughts and then ask the question which Sri Ramana Maharishi asserted would result in the state of spiritual enlightenment 'who am I'.

Thank you very much for your comment.