More and more, I'm into specifics when it comes to spirituality. I've spent a lifetime floating in the philosophical, theological, and metaphysical heavens. Now, show me the meat! (or, tofu)
I still enjoy airy-fairy speculation. Heck, what would this blog be without it? Both the posts and comments would be exceedingly brief, that's for sure.
But whenever I get a new spiritual, religious, or philosophical book these days, I thumb through it right off the bat, looking for details. Especially if it deals at all with meditation.
What does the author say we (or even just he/she) should do in an attempt to understand what It Is All About?
Don't give me elevated abstractions. I want down to earth instructions. Absent that, a writing is just a bunch of speculative blah, blah, blah.
Entertaining. But not scientifically or practically persuasive.
So since I don't want to be a pot calling the kettle black, here's what I generally do when I sit down for my morning meditation – fortified with a strong cup of coffee, which caffeinatedly elevates my mood even if the mediation session doesn't.
I have a saying that I repeat, and contemplate, before meditating.
Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to become
I say this to myself as an encapsulation of my current spiritual outlook. It also serves to get me in a groove that, hopefully, I'll stay in for as much of the meditation period as possible.
Nowhere to go… Here I am, stock still on my cushion. No place else I need to be for the next 30 minutes or so. This is It.
Nothing to do… No mental place I need to arrive at either. I don't need to think, feel, imagine, perceive, or do anything else inside my head.
No one to become… Even more, no transformation of my basic being needs to happen from on high, or down below. Like Popeye, I am what I am (or, I yam what I yam).
This centers me in three dimensions of space, time, and being – exactly where I am. I realize that every movement from this center, on what spiritual traditions call a "path," is going to take me farther away from really real reality, not closer.
That's my theory, at least.
However, it's founded on a whole lot of book learning and life experience. I just choose to ignore all of that learning-experience in favor of the no, no, no at the center of my Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to become.
I then use a simple sort of mantra meditation to stay close to the center during my meditation.
Lately I've been favoring Wu because it means nothing/negation in Chinese. And I hear "wu chi" a lot in my Tai Chi classes (this is the motionless ready stance that begins and ends each form; from wu chi the tai chi begins).
Something…wu…out of nothing…the empty center. Endlessly fascinating. A sound in my head, uttered by me, where before and after there is silence.
So, yes, I do something. Not nothing. But as little as possible, which is a heck of a lot less than I'm going to do the rest of the day, after I stop meditating.
I enjoy beginning the day with this period of mostly passive yin that contrasts with my mostly active yang the rest of my waking hours.
It's the core of my spirituality, really. Yet it's nothing that I can describe beyond how I've already described it. For there's nothing much to it.
Even less than I think, for sure.
Googling "nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to become" before I wrote this post, I came across a book whose title is two-thirds of my meditation saying.
Well, no one has a copyright on nothing. Though lots of people have said quite a bit about it. Like...
There is really nothing you must be.
And there is nothing you must do.
There is really nothing you must have.
And there is nothing you must know.
There is really nothing you must become.
However, it helps to understand that fire burns,
and when it rains, the earth gets wet.
Japanese Zen scroll
As for me, when I meditate my saying is as minimal as I can make it. Wu, wu, wu.
"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now." - Me & Bobby McGee
Wu? Sounds more like Wu + ssy, as in don't be a spiritual Wussy.
Brian, I know you're not a cowardly spirit, but having both met you through this blog and in person, I sometimes get the feeling that you've misunderstood the whole "one river, many wells" concept. That somehow you've convinced yourself that the road to enlightenment MUST be along a path of detachment.
For me, the exact opposite is true. My spiritual details have mostly been discovered on an adventurous soul safari of stalking truth through the dense brush of uncertainty, wrestling with inner demons until I found the devil inside, following wandering strangers to beds of fire, and waking up in barren savannas determined to feed on whatever life I could find.
So basically, I'm suggesting that those "details" are not always found between the ears of a guru or the jacket of a book. That chanting may provide the rhythm but not always the lyrics. That the details of spiritual truth are actually everywhere you look, and even if you don't chase them down with a butterfly net, you're bound to catch one just by taking off the goggles of doubt. That's all.
Posted by: Marcel Cairo | November 12, 2007 at 08:55 AM
Marcel, I don't think your "yang" and the "yin" I wrote about are mutually exclusive. They're complementary.
I added a Zen saying to the end of my post. Found it on the preceding link.
Yes, fire burns and earth gets wet. That's real. Action. Also, there's nothing to do, nothing to have, nothing to know, nothing to become.
Two sides of the same coin.
Posted by: Brian | November 12, 2007 at 09:34 AM
If there is a liking for meditation, why not? But be under no illusion that 'Awakening' would be caused by, or a result of meditating for it is Awakening that is doing it.
Awakening is a purely subjective state, so how could an appearance affect its source? In other words, object can't act on subject in the same way a shadow can't act on its origin. Since all action has its origin in source, who/what meditates? It is source that meditates and appearance (you) that is meditated. So, the meditator and the meditating are 'one', only APPEARING separated. There is no one to meditate and nothing to meditate on.
Saying it another way, God is the doing and appearing, but as source it can't be found as any sort of object without splitting itself into two and it is back in the duality of subject-object again.
To understand, don't do anything as the doer. Rather, be everything as the being of it. Let yourself be melted away, but don't think you are doing it.
There is really nothing you can be.
for you are the being of it.
And there is nothing you can do.
for you are the doing of it.
There is really nothing you can have.
for you are the having of it.
And there is nothing you can know.
for you are the knowing of it.
There is really nothing you can become.
for you are the becoming of it.
You are no thing but the being of it.
And yes, fire burns and when it rains the earth gets wet. We are the burning, the raining, the earthing.
**How do I know this?
I don't know a damn thing. I can only know what I am not, but as what I am I can't know it. I am the knowing. The knower, if identified, is objective appearance only.
Posted by: Tucson | November 13, 2007 at 09:18 AM
“but as what I am I can't know it. I am the knowing.”
This infinite vitality that most call spirit is the knowing (perfect intelligence) and comes to know itself (perfect love) by expressing itself and comes to know itself at that exact instant consciousness discovers itself to be pure awareness with attributes of love and intelligence. This is an infinite (never ending) on going process. This is why life is a process or journey.
This is also why any thoughts that lead to systems and structures not based in love and intelligence will self-destruct. We are seeing this on a grand scale in America with capitalism self-destructing under its own weight of greed is good. Greed and selfishness are based in ignorance not love or intelligence.
“God” pure awareness expresses itself through us. We are the expression of that pure awareness. Pure awareness is static but becomes/is dynamic by the manifestation of perceived others. Whether that other be a rock, a plant, a dog, or a human. Never say can’t you will come to know yourself as perfect love and intelligence and that that is. No loss of identity your identity was and is that that is but oh what a “perceived journey” to find our way back to that that is.
It is only delusion based in ignorance that makes many at a human level of consciousness think we know our true identity. An Evolutionary process appears to be a perfect vehicle to the creation and the development of conscious Beings. These consciousness Beings are the very expression of the intelligent vitality of this pure awareness that expresses itself in an infinite number of structural and life forms.
When people make such statements as; there is no one there to suffer because we don’t exist. These statements are not based in love, intelligence, or an understanding of the “difference” between consciousness and awareness but in the ego striving to be known for knowing.
Until our consciousness attains a very high level of consciousness (awareness) that consciousness suffers both mental and physical pain. If you don’t believe this go to Iraq and ride around in a humvee for a while then get back to me on the suffering part.
Do we have to do anything for these perceived individual consciousnesses (souls) to progress? No karma as a law of progress will do just fine taking our souls (perceived separate self’s) back to perfect awareness. The underlying reality behind appearances is this law of progress allowing the great I am to know itself as both knower and doer.
Posted by: william | November 13, 2007 at 02:29 PM
Ultimately, no where to go, no where to be, nothing to do is true. However, life is not present to be this. Life is activity and appreciation of this concept is the bridge which links consciousness to the eternal possibilities.
Seeking to be what we truly are is a mistake; what we truly are is without measure. Being what we are, defined in time and space, is why this incarnation exist to be known.
There is no need for non-dual awareness, that exist in spite of us. The experience of dualism defines awareness. Which is more valuable, common or rare? Awareness is rare; and each moment of it should be considered a rare treasure trove. Non-dual awareness is common from an infinite perspective.
Peace is appreciating where you are in truth.
Posted by: Leland | November 14, 2007 at 03:53 AM
Leland: wow very well stated. Thank you for that.
“Ultimately, no where to go, no where to be, nothing to do is true. However, life is not present to be this. Life is activity and appreciation of this concept is the bridge which links consciousness to the eternal possibilities.”
The only thing I would change is the word consciousness to awareness. May be a subtle thing but to me knowing the difference between awareness and consciousness explains the gap between us and god and that gap is not only ignorance of our true identity but our lacking the love and intelligence of this infinite oneness.
We lack at this time the power and creative abilities and the love and intelligence of this pure awareness. Hence the “journey”. Just intellectually knowing we are that oneness manifested in infinite number of perceived beings fails to understand this journey. We are gods in the making of course intellectually knowing we were/are this perfect awareness most call god manifested into infinite beings that perceive themselves as separate identities.
This statement listed below is different than I see it at this time.
"The experience of dualism defines awareness."
I see at this time that the experience of dualism defines consciousness. As I see consciousness and awareness as “different”. Awareness is that that is “reality” and consciousness is that which appears to be “perceived reality”. Consciousness allows god to express itself in an infinite number of expressions, whereas awareness is infinite oneness.
Awareness plus not knowing equals consciousness. Consciousness has within it awareness and as consciousness evolves it gains more and more awareness of reality.
Your comments on this would be appreciated.
Posted by: william | November 14, 2007 at 07:46 AM
"Ultimately, no where to go, no where to be, nothing to do is true. However, life is not present to be this. Life is activity and appreciation of this concept is the bridge which links consciousness to the eternal possibilities."
--Realizing, truly seeing, that there is "No where to go, no where to be, nothing to do" does not limit the activity of life but rather expands perspective from the individual to the universal. Life is seen to flow 'through' rather than 'happening to or by' the individual. This is liberating, full of universal benediction and affinity with all as oneself. In the absence of egoic small self is the presence of infinite Self. All is seen as I.
"Seeking to be what we truly are is a mistake;"..
..because as a subject perceiving an object it would be impossible to see what we really are. Can an eye see itself? What we are is infused in the seeing.
"Being what we are, defined in time and space, is why this incarnation exist to be known."
--In truly BEING what we are, the conceptual functioning appearing as an incarnation in time and space is no longer perceived as WHAT we are. It is obseved as dreamlike, an entertaining phantom.
"There is no need for non-dual awareness, that exist in spite of us."
--There is no need for anything, but non-dual perception clears up the window, so to speak.
"Which is more valuable, common or rare? Awareness is rare; and each moment of it should be considered a rare treasure trove. Non-dual awareness is common from an infinite perspective."
--In non-dual awareness 'common and rare' exist simultaneously. Both are seen as the same thing, as unicity. One is not deprived of either.
"Peace is appreciating where you are in truth."
Posted by: Tucson | November 14, 2007 at 08:43 AM
I agree with awareness being better suited to the conceptual idea trying to be conveyed. Dualism is the finger pointing to the moon. Consciousness points to awareness. Without awareness there would be no manifestation of consciousness.
I doesn't see us as gods, rather I sees God or Source, as the All in All, reflected in each ray of light. I would you use the analogy of a mirror. Looking into a large mirror what is reflected is consistent and unchanging from a unified perspective, but take that mirror and shatter it into 10,000 pieces and the unified perpsective is lost. The original object reflected has not changed, but the light reflected to define the object has been altered by different perspecitves of the reflected image in each little piece.
I am just another little piece trying to reflect my light as honestly as I can, but I can never reflect the whole perspective of the original mirror.
I enjoy discussing these concepts and hope to drop in once in awhile to share my perspective and yours.
Posted by: Leland | November 14, 2007 at 09:17 PM
Nice post. My favourite public speaker - Dr Desmond Ford (http://www.desford.org.au/live) mentioned the last part of that poem a couple of years ago and I have never forgotten it. He said it like this...
"However, it helps to understand that fire burns,and when it rains, the earth gets wet.
It helps to understand that actions have consequenses."
Posted by: Jayden Lawson | October 07, 2010 at 06:06 AM
Outside the Coliseum in Rome,
inside a gladitorial holding pen,
there is an inscription etched
in the wall, which remains to this
"We know this is all there is.....
... we don't care."
Posted by: Mike Williams | October 07, 2010 at 02:52 PM