Meditation: Gracing the Skids with Assisted Cluelesscide (10.13.11)
Each of the three modes is polarized into a duality. In the case of meditation, the duality is discernment <---> union (the former being objective, the latter subjective; in the first instance, we must differentiate between the Real and unreal, and then assimilate the Real). Another way of saying it is that meditation is the way we transform religious know-how into spiritual be-who.
Before we even start, I should probably emphasize that I am not a spiritual do-it-yourselfer, which brings an element of will into the discussion. I tried the “willful” approach for a number of years, but didn’t really get anywhere with it. This is what the Buddhists call jiriki, or “self power,” as opposed to tiriki, or “other power.” In our language it is a matter of grace vs. effort. Being that I didn't have any faith in a higher being, I couldn’t very well rely upon the assistance of that higher being, now could I? Also, being then of a rationalistic (in the limited sense of the word) strain, I was initially drawn to atheistic approaches such as Zen or Taoism. Left to my own efforts, I was simply unable to get nowhere fast enough.
It was only starting in 1995, when I made the decision to consciously surrender to some nonlocal assistance, that I started gaining some traction in hyperspace. You know, harvesting. Born again from above. Leaving my alter egos on the ego altar. Repossessed and amortized. Cashing in my chimp. Nilling mysoph to a blank. Getting the keys to my luxury corps. Blissting off from the errport on the higher planes. Departing in order to bewholed. All that stuff.
So bear in mind that all my advice must be understood in the context of a real relationship with an unlimited partner. For me--and I imagine for most westerners--a human partner is best (living or "dead," it doesn't matter), since our consciousness is infused with the principle that the logos may go so low that it glows in human form. Although one form may transcend and surpass the others--I don’t want to get into that argument right now--I know for a fact that there is more than one who is capable of transmitting a real grace and a real spiritual power and presence. Of this I have no doubt, because, for one thing, we are talking about a cosmic principle, not a one-time violation of a cosmic principle. In fact, Orthodoxy compels assent to this more general principle, what with the veneration of the saints, starets, and early fathers.
Also, bear in mind that it is almost always necessary to find this nonlocal assistance in an established orthodox tradition. This is why manmade, improvised new-age approaches wrenched from their sacred context do not work. Real traditions are protected by forces that guard against egoic vulgarians who wish to take heaven by storm. Outwardly this is called “dogma,” but there is an interior protection as well that ensures that the fruit of the usurper or false prophet will always be unsound. Once you get your bearings in the domain of spirit, it is easy to pick up most any new age book and play Spot the Heresy!, usually on the first page. It gets boring real quick.
According to Schuon, in meditation, “The contact between man and God becomes contact between the intelligence and Truth, or relative truths contemplated in view of the Absolute.” In other words, meditation acts upon the intelligence (in the deeper sense, as defined above) in order to awaken certain timeless “memories” (vertical memories, as it were) and to engage the higher imagination (as discussed in yesterday's post). This is how truth is metabolized and assimilated into the being--it is a very organic process which exactly mirrors mundane, horizontal learning.
That is, as I noted in my book, the process is identical, just applied to a different plane. In both cases, there is a knowing subject, a plane of phenomena, and a transformational space in between. In each case we are dealing with what Aquinas called adequation between subject and object. It is just that in spiritual knowing, we are working with knowledge that transcends the senses (although not always, and not forever, since the higher intellect is capable of seeing the material world as a “theophany” of God, a principle that we routinely rely upon in order to appreciate the noetic light that shines through a great work of art, or simply perceiving the naturally supernatural beauty of the Old Master Painter himself).
Again, I am not big on attempting to spiritually lift oneself by one's own jirikstrap. For one thing, it chafes. Here I agree with Schuon: “Contrary to what is too often stated, meditation cannot of itself provoke illumination; rather, its object is negative in the sense that it has to remove inner obstacles that stand in the way, not of a new, but of a preexistent and ‘innate’ knowledge of which it has to become aware. Thus meditation may be compared not so much to a light kindled in a dark room, as to an opening made in the wall of that room to allow the light to enter--a light which preexists outside and is in no way produced by the action of piercing the wall.... The role of meditation is thus to open the soul, firstly to the grace which separates it from the world, secondly to that which brings it nearer to God and thirdly to that which, so to speak, reintegrates it into God.”
While truth is truth, it must be realized in order to begin transforming the person. It is not like scientific knowledge which, once known, stays that way. Rather, the realm of spirituality involves truths that must be known and reknown repeatedly, in a spiraling process. There is no end to it on this side of manifestation.
Q. Is not an increasing effort of meditation needed and is it not true that the more hours you meditate the greater progress you make?
The Mother: The number of hours spent in meditation is no proof of spiritual progress. It is a proof of your progress when you no longer have to make an effort to meditate. Then you rather have to make an effort to stop meditating: it becomes difficult... to stop thinking of the Divine, difficult to come down to the ordinary consciousness. Then you are sure of progress... when concentration in the Divine is the necessity of your life, when you cannot do without it, when it continues naturally from morning to night whatever you may be engaged in doing...
Q: But is not sitting down to meditation an indispensable discipline, and does it not give a more intense and concentrated union with the Divine?
The Mother: That may be. But a discipline in itself is not what we are seeking. What we are seeking is to be concentrated on the Divine in all that we do, at all times...
There are some who, when they are sitting in meditation, get into a state which they think is very fine and delightful. They sit self-complacent in it and forget the world.... This is not a sign of spiritual progress.... There are some who act and seem to feel as if meditation were a debt they have to pay to the Divine; they are like men who go to church once a week and think they have paid what they owe God....
To enter the spiritual life means to take a plunge into the Divine, as you would jump into the sea. And that is not the end, but the beginning....