In this stage of our development, spiritual adventure calls out to us like the Soma light of the full moon. Across Earth conscious beings bent upon awakening to the essence of reality are coming together for gatherings of all types. From Burning Man of Nevada to Boom of Portugal, from Electric Forest to Coachella, from Symbiosis to Transformus, the great energetic surge brought about by group awareness and the unifying experience of music and art speaks out to us and calls us forth. So do the many holy places of the world, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Stone Hendge and the Pyramids at Giza, they beckon to us to move ourselves into communal and holy places. The beauty of this planet, the tributaries of the Yellow River in China, the awesome majesty of the Grand Canyon, the ethereal perfection of Kauai all speak to us as well. This whole world is calling, and we as ones on the Path, the many paths, are drawn to experience all that the natural world, the religious world, the social world and the gathering of intentions have to offer.
Yet we could go around the entire planet over and over again and potentially never find what we need. We could travel to the corners of the earth, go to every gathering, and still we may find that the ego is in control.
We might get what we need here and there spurred by the thought-neutralizing state of travel and group communion, but we could possibly never find it. What is it that we need? What will bring us into the next level of being? Inner sanctuary. It is the temple of the heart that when occupied brings forth the sweet bliss to last us our entire lives. It is the house of God seated deep in the self: pure, non-qualified, eternally shining, absolute nothingness. It is the eternal Oneness that is going to breathe into this life the flavor of immortality which underscores the universe. Once we get a taste of it, it consumes us, and we see the possibility of being truly extinguished of desire and cumbersome unwanted mental activity. Once we glimpse the reality of the universe, it is all that will fill our soul properly. And how are we going to get there?
We are going to have to begin to do that which calls to us more strongly than the world entire, we are going to have to take time every day to neutralize thought forms, and then commune with the All.
This is meditation practice.
The cultivation of meditation practice will allow the entire spectrum of the day to become a constant communion. The cultivation of meditation practice will slowly allow us to contact the essence of our experience, the unified Love field that subsists the universe. As Chogyam Trungpa said, “It is the only way out, and the only way in.”
Meditation is the gradual neutralization of thought forms brought on by loosening attachment to thought forms while sitting still. Once this stillness becomes emptiness (at any level), Prayer becomes possible. Pranayama (energy breath work) is Prayer, speaking to the Source is Prayer, visualizing energy unity is Prayer; Prayer and meditation are one. And beyond all our trances, evermore as we increase our meditation practice, we will constantly find that the world of unity nestled deep in the heart is the only constant in our lives. We will see that if it were possible to enter directly into it, we would be free.
There are plenty of guides to meditation, there are ten-thousand styles, there are infinite things to focus on, eternal varieties of methods, but I am not speaking of method. Method of meditation should be whatever you need it to be, and if you need to adopt a style, then do so.
I am speaking of Work. I am singing of daily practice.
The truth is that whether we are standing in front of the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, the very tree where the Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment, or if we are at a weekend long festival with a little too much dubstep and not enough IDM, or if we are entering into a day of completely mundane activities, our inner self should be in a similar state of openness and clarity. The only way that this is going to happen is if we cultivate a routine, and go beyond that routine as much as possible as well, of communing with the deeper self in hopes (in great longing hopes!) of getting to the Eternal Self. This kind of routine will bring the sort of unshakable stability of spiritual insight that will allow us to Be Here Now, to be present and clear, a conduit for the experiential structure of reality. This is the kind of routine that isn’t very different on the Appalachian Trail, at Rainbow Serpent festival in Australia, or when accidently passing out on a friends couch and waking up confused the next morning. In all these places, we are still practicing meditation at the two pivotal points:
Before sleeping and upon waking.
The key to cultivating meditation practice is of course to enter into meditation, but as we all know we may wake up in the morning with the intent of sitting and getting to know our truth, and then somehow by three or four in the afternoon it is completely impossible to do so. This is because if we do not take the reins of our thought forms then they create a world of illusion that is too strong, telling us of our profane separateness by quantifying and classifying this life. An excellent step to ending this cycle is to steal ourselves just before bedtime, as it is the only thing which will allow us to steal ourselves upon waking as well.
Yes the day might have been terrible and our minds may be full of monetary worries; yes we may have just gotten into a fight with our significant other; yes we may have eaten badly, spoken badly, been the very thing we wish with all our hearts to not be; yes we may have sinned deeply, but we are giving those failures too much grace if we do not let the deep want for peace urge us to meditation before bedtime.
Yes we may have had an amazing hatha yoga session in the afternoon, with a blissful Shivasana to cap it; yes we may have had a conversation with another seeker that opened our hearts, untied karmic knots, and awakened our reality; yes we may have created a beautiful work of art; yes we may have had absolutely mind-blowing, soul inspiring sex, but we are not giving those accomplishments their true grace if we do not use the energetic boost of such activities to spur us to meditation before sleep at night.
We might even have a partner that wants to dreamily look into our eyes until they fall asleep, one who gives no care to communion. Well, we might just have to let them fall asleep soundly, then get out of bed and hold space before getting back in bed and cuddling the night away.
It is ruthlessly stealing the self before bed, just when the ego is weakest and thought forms are losing hold on us, that is going to open up the potential for daily meditation practice. It is only meditation before sleep which reveals a key to the land of bliss: meditation upon waking.
When we arise, thought forms begin to weave an objectified reflection of being that is illusory and cut off from the world, and once that train gets rollin’, it just don’t stop. An hour after waking up we might find ourselves completely consumed with the world, rocking out to music in the car while talking nonsense in our head, sexualizing the people around us, looking at the car brands in a city instead of the architecture, fantasizing about worldly glory or worldly failure. We might not even notice that the moon has risen perfectly during the day, and is smiling upon us. This is the root of suffering; slavery to the inner monologue is the essence of samsara, the master of illusion. A practical and accessible way to begin to break the cycle is to hold space and commune with the Source directly upon waking up.
We may have work at eight in the morning, and need a full hour of time to get ready and get there, but the entire day will become a thing of beauty if we roll back that rising time another half hour, and without fail enter into meditation that prepares us to have primary spiritual experience at many points throughout the day.
By establishing non-identification with thought forms directly upon waking up, after dealing with essential bodily functions if they are pressing, (of course no eating before meditation though) we establish experience of the true self, which is not thought, but is the pure generator of thought. Reaching such emptiness will allow us to go about our day focusing our eyes and minds on what we want to focus on, on what is directly in front of us right here right now. It will unencumber our minds of needless rambling for the entire day.
By then developing that emptiness by establishing experience (Prayer) with energy bodies and the unified matrix of reality that is the Eternal Self, we will allow ourselves to train our thought forms on the infinite throughout the day when we see another person, a mountain, the sun, the meal we are about to consume for lunch. It is through training our inner eye on the infinite after reaching emptiness in the morning that we carry sacred space with us throughout the day.
Thus it is good to begin a regimented practice of meditation at night, when there is always time to do so, and keep it up for awhile. If you must stay up late then so be it, in a talk from 1938, Paramahansa Yogananda divulged that he often stayed up till three or four in the morning, as it was the only time in the day he could commune with the One Infinite Creator. Then, after evening practice is easy, integrate morning practice. With the gradual culmination of regimented nightly and morning Prayer and practice, eventually we will be taking anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for communion every day, without fail. We will begin to see that our average day on the job is really amazingly beautiful, and our incredible day at the festy is really pretty normal.
All things will start to reach the middle, just as we have been practicing. We will know the heart more and more, and Love will shine infinitely within and without.
Work is the only refuge, nothing is as comforting. We know that if we don’t start to have primary religious experiences and great swooning spiritual realizations as often as possible then we will die. Surely there will be off days, days of low energetic import, frustrating trance plateaus, but we will still train our eyes on Reality in the morning and in the evening, and soon we will move forward. The battlefront is right now, it is the thoughts we are thinking.
Maybe its time to let go of the fruit, and hold on to the branch.