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.