September 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
Meditation is the practice of continuous wakening to the present moment; a process that is aided by realizations, where the emphasis is on the word real.
At their core realizations are neither conceptual nor grand but humble, in the sense that they are a simple awareness of bare reality. When they happen there are no flashing lights or blaring trumpets. One just sees things the way they really are. Once seen, however, the effect on transforming an individual can be far-reaching. Yet the individual must not be sidetracked into a searching for these effects, for they come only after the realization.
Realizations are simple but hard to come by, as they require the mind to put aside its clutter of thoughts, feelings, truths and stories.
A few weeks ago, while recuperating from some surgery, I had the opportunity to observe a man who shared my hospital room. I noticed that his every activity was designed to manipulate others into considering his feelings before they did anything.
At first it appeared this man was just being self-serving but it turned out that he had suffered from spinal meningitis when quite young. Back then the doctors performed many painful procedures that to him seemed done without regard for his feelings. In the following years that assessment was woven into a story that became the truth of his life. When I met him, caring hospital staff surrounded him. But all he could see were the little things that confirmed his truth that no one cared.
To see what was really happening about him, this man would first have to be willing to give up his story that people didn’t care. We could imagine his initial struggle to do this would be punctuated with numerous examples of people not caring. If he were able to drop these ‘proofs’ he might see that there are some who do care. Of course, he would still believe some didn’t. To the Buddhist this is an example of dualism, the perception of things as opposing pairs of opposites.
To see the world, as it is, this man would have to drop his dualistic truth. In doing so he would come to see people as neither caring nor not caring. He might then expand this into seeing people as neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. People would be just as they are, unadorned by labels.
The interesting thing about this process is that realizations come only after we have dropped our judgments, truths and stories. So, because nothing has been added, when we have one we are actually realizing nothing. We are just seeing what was right in front of us all along but which was veiled by the debris of our thoughts.
As realizations are seeing life stripped of thought, what is, is not what we think it is. And when we ultimately drop every thought, all that remains is bare awareness. Yet with the realization of bare awareness we realize that nothing, is everything.