My meditation practice over the last 30 years is ever evolving. The stages through which I have emerged are due to the consistency of the practice. However, it is possible to meditate in ways that do not promote our evolution and in fact can hinder it.
It is a slippery slope between effort and non-effort, between aiming for something and accepting what is, between discipline and abandon.
This edge could be considered vigilance, but this vigilance evolves…changes character. There is a tightrope one walks where a toehold on attention balanced with letting go is a tiny back and forth motion until it fuses. There comes a time when the tether of that discipline is no longer needed and this fusion of new vigilance emerges.
Six solid years of zazen then shikantaza laid my foundation. My attention must not alight even on the breath.
I cannot fight the mind or make it do what I wish it would do.
From the zen perspective, I did not try to tame the mind, but maintained a kind of vigilance that is not mind. It took many years to learn what mind is not. In the beginning, I had to keep bringing my focus back to something, but this is only an initial effort and not the goal. It is based in dualism that strives toward formlessness and emptiness.
To indulge in imaginal adventures in the beginning or even anywhere on the path is a true setback. One never learns to realize themselves outside of that imaginal space which keeps us trapped in the world of maya.
I have often heard people describe the adventures, travels, meetings with entities, beings and angels during their meditation and this was after I had taught them the art of sensation and how to bring the body, feeling and mind to one fully rounded experience. “Emptiness is emptiness and form is form.” What I was teaching and what was being practiced by them are worlds apart.
With no effort involved, that kind of “meditation”… “watching the movie of our minds” will go on ad infinitum and entertain for hours..and that’s about it.
The effort to not indulge in this movie is a good first step.
The deepest meditation in which emptiness is emptiness will produce consistent gamma waves allowing precognition, revelation, and access to higher realms of consciousness. Here in this place consciousness pervades my entire body.
Imagination is not a realm of higher consciousness.
Many may now ask about intuition, psychic abilities, and telepathy. These capabilities can be developed outside of the discipline to which I am referring, but they are also naturally enhanced as I enter stations of higher consciousness.
Vigilance is the evolution of a certain faculty within me that can abide in non-attachment. The mind will fire off at rapid speed but I am not trapped by it. In fact, my vigilance develops with the resistance to attach. There is an inner struggle that is not all struggle, but something that gives way and allows.
This is the platform through which higher levels of consciousness are accessed.
It has been important for me to articulate how to find a necessary awareness. Awareness is not consciousness, but something that leads to ever deepening levels of consciousness. There will eventually be stillness and utter peace.
The practice must not be aimed toward some lofty goal that will satisfy mostly my ego.
If I entered a meditation vowing to vanquish the foe or to get enlightened or to still my thoughts, I would fundamentally get very disappointed. I had to let go of that very desire and effort and yet I maintained this aim somewhere without being attached to any outcome.
I had to search for something that is other than thought and I knew from previous glimpses that it was the rounded beingness of knowing that developed within me. Holding vigilance once there developed gateways, foundations and fertile ground for ecstatic reality.
I could not search for that either. I could not beat down the doors of heaven and I tried really hard…for years.
The messy and consistent “failure” allowed some dogged determination to die over and over and over. The effort then became the art of surrender without losing the vigilance. Grab onto even a glimpse of floaty freedom and poof it would escape like a firefly.
These are the beginning stages of meditation that I endured to reap the enormous benefits of what came later. Without these initial efforts, I would have remained in a place patting myself on the back for being a meditator and making no progress whatsoever.
There is more to it than just sitting down on a cushion.
In my school, there are many meditations that were passed on to me that do certain specific things. They require attention and expanded awareness and if done with mental focus alone become futile. Many students have fooled themselves for years into thinking that they understand these exercises. One thing they are developing is attention, but the power of the meditation does not gain traction until this certain vigilance outside of thought is developed.
There can be various practices that lead to the dynamism of expanded awareness and vigilance. Often they are more amorphous in which one must find one’s way in a less structured environment beyond the senses and yet not devoid of this element of the body and the knowing. When there is nothing to pin your thought on, it becomes another kettle of fish.
Vigilance itself is all there is and only something developed in me can abide in it.
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