On the Subject of Meditation

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I’ve been avoiding getting into this subject, not just here at the new blog, but at Spontaneous Arising as well. It has something to do with a general reluctance to acquire the label “teacher” (or “authority”), and it has something else to do with a dread of having to defend my perspective against hostile challengers who are too wedded to their own teacher/tradition/”truth” to allow for the possibility that they don’t actually know everything there is to know about the subject of meditation. I am a very patient man, but arguing about something like this seems very much a waste of time.

That said, I must face the fact that my own teacher has decided to deem me a meditation instructor, and I do feel it’s time to try my hand at conveying a sense of what constitutes skillful meditation. I see myself doing this through a series of posts, each one having to do with a different aspect of the contemplative life.

When one engages a serious commitment to the contemplative life, one encounters all kinds of hurdles along the path. As time goes on, I hope to address these hurdles both through canonical guidance (as from the Phala Nikaya, otherwise known as the Buddha’s “Discourses on Attainment,” or from select teachings of contemplatives from other traditions, such as St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle)… or through my own experience as a jhana yogi.

A key phrase that will occur throughout these posts is “meditative absorption.” Meditative absorption occurs naturally as a “fruit” of a skillfully-led contemplative life. For some, absorption unfolds almost without effort, arriving unexpectedly and without fanfare (this happened with me in 1995). For others, it arrives only through a grueling process of inner grappling, through which the contemplative is likely to confront the desire to quit over and over again. In either case, the contemplative is often (or even usually) met not only with a lack of support from traditional spiritual institutions, but with an active encouragement to abandon this most precious of spiritual gifts. The fact that a personage no less eminent than the Buddha put meditative absorption at the center of his teaching seems not to register with mainstream Buddhist teaching of today. I, myself, have encountered this phenomenon of resistance to meditative absorption whenever I would bring up the “symptoms” in the presence of respected spiritual teachers along the way. One looked straight at me and said, “Just let it go. Pretend it doesn’t exist.”

Suffice it to say, I decided to follow the inner guidance provided by this energetic phenomenon, and it has led me to such a perpetual state of peace, joy and tranquility that I simply cannot remain silent. I have to put it out there, trusting that it will resonate with one or two of you, if not more.

So, with this introductory post out of the way, I will begin work on a systematic (hopefully) explanation of skillful meditation that leads to meditative absorption, which then leads to places beyond our wildest dreams. Please come along if this is something you’d be interested in.

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4 thoughts on “On the Subject of Meditation

  1. Hawk Sr says:

    This sounds good. I’ll be looking at “To strive or not to strive” today.

  2. adreampuppet says:

    Excellent, Hawk. I’ll keep writing if you keep reading….

  3. Jhananda says:

    Clarity Through Contradiction

    Hello my dear Michael you have brought up some excellent topics to reflect upon. I have broken my response into two to separate out the apparent contradictions that seem to be evident in various spiritual philosophies and the issue of striving will be dealt with under another category, even though the issue of striving presents a contradiction to be addressed.

    The origins of the apparent contradictions in religion have three basic sources. It begins with the priesthood who has been in the business of repackaging religion for mass appeal from its inception. The masses rarely value the teachings of the mystics, because the mystics have been telling them all along to dump their addictions so that they can have gnosis in the here and now.

    The priesthood, on the other hand, has been pandering to the masses for donations from its beginning. And, the masses do not support people who tell them to dump their addictions and follow discipline. Thus the priesthood have been in the business of appropriating, subverting, obfuscating and mystifying the simple and elegant teachings of their mystic progenitors from the beginning, and thus every religion subscribes to breaks in logic and critical thinking that require “faith” to accept. And, most of the highly respect priests, philosophers, and even saints, sages and prophets were part of the pretentious and dogmatic pontificating priesthood who were only pandering to the egos of their followers.

    The second source of apparent contradictions in religion comes from genuine mystics, like Teresa of Avila, who were threatened with being burned at the stake and having all of their writing burned by the pretentious and dogmatic priesthood who panders for donations. Most of Teresa’s writing was burned. The only examples of her writing that survived were so filled with an apparently undirected and meandering writing style that her inquisitors could not figure out what she was saying, thus they preserved it. Her writing was simply so encrypted by apparent contradictions that one cannot figure out what she is saying except through revelation by insight.

    The third source of apparent contradictions in religion comes from the teachings of the mystics themselves. These apparent contradictions are due to the fact the path to enlightenment is non-cognitive. This means the thinking mind cannot figure out the path to liberation, because liberation is being liberated from the thinking mind. It is the very cognitive mind that is the source of our neuroses and therefore it is the thinking mind that we must liberate ourselves from. We cannot think ourselves to enlightenment we just have to stop thinking to allow enlightenment to unfold within us in the absence of the cognitive and conceptual mind.

    Congratulations on the excellent blog-space

    Love and blessings, Jhananda

  4. adreampuppet says:

    Wonderful comment, Jhanananda.

    For those who don’t know, Jhanananda is my meditation teacher, and he is the main Proprietor at the Great Western Vehicle website, which is listed in my blogroll here.

    I appreciate you taking the time to help us get clear on the seeming contradictoriness found in many mystical teachings, and look forward to your thoughts on the “to strive or not to strive” question.

    Thanks for the kind words, as well, Jhanananda….

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