Through meditation we begin to get glimpses of the stillness. With practice, the stillness enters us, and we begin to enjoy the spontaneous inner sense of serenity. Over time the stillness becomes the foundation of our perception and we look out on the world from our peaceful presence. Once we know this as our Self we can be free of the anxiety, doubt, disappointment, and fear, just being the watcher. This is Deep Peace.
It might come as a surprise that consciousness, the Self, is the watcher of the mind. In this we can become the impartial witness of mental dramas, creating separation between the watcher and the chaos of ego. Fortunately, the mind begins to like the stillness, and the suffering evaporates due to lack of interest. In this we become truly happy and content.
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By Dennis Hill
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Dennis Hill
All rights reserved.
There Are So Many Questions!
What Can I Do?
If you are looking to calm the mind; the peaceful practice of meditation will allow you to be the observer of the mind's activities, thus becoming less involved in the urgency of emotional and mental drama. This practiced detachment is the first step toward the inner quiet where the mind becomes transparent to the inner equipoise that always lies just behind the mind. When the mind can be still, you will experience the pure happiness that is your true nature. As the practice of meditation matures, this inner serenity and balance will make its way into all corners of your life and you will be the happy and steady person on the outside that you truly are on the inside.
Meditation is an ancient tradition in all the world's cultures that has been practiced and taught for thousands of years by a few. If you are one of the few who would like to discover your inner Self and enjoy the happiness of your true nature, consider learning about the practice of meditation. If you can give yourself 15 minutes every day to sit quietly, it is certain that you will awaken the steady and cheerful person within.
Levels of Meditation
Learning About Meditation
The student can learn, from a book or teacher, about the practice, purpose, and state of meditation without actually doing the practice.
A book or teacher cannot teach the student meditation. Only meditation can teach meditation. It is in the actual practice that meditation is revealed.
Transcendence of the Mind
Through the discipline of daily practice, one can glimpse the inner stillness that reveals the true Self of the meditator—consciousness itself, the impartial witness of the mind. In this stillness is the sweetness and serenity that exists continuously just behind the mind.
Attainment of the Steady State
Over time, the meditator becomes established in the peaceful presence of the meditative state. The tyranny of the mind is overcome and one becomes free from a lifetime of mental conditioning. The meditator lives continuously in the happiness of the peaceful presence.
Which Is Real; Waking or Dreaming?
I remember one morning in my seventh summer awakening after a particularly vivid dream. It seemed so real it caused me to wonder, Which is real, waking or dreaming? In my perplexity I went to my father (Dad has all the answers, right?) and asked him which is real. He said, "Waking is real; a dream can't be real because it's only a dream." From that, I knew that he didn't know the truth of the matter.
A story has been handed down about the great King Janaka of India. After a sumptuous meal in the courtyard of his palace, he lay down upon his canopied pallet to rest as his attendants fanned him, and his guards stood at the gate. Lying there, he fell into a dream that he was a thief and had been caught in the act of thievery and was being thrashed unmercifully. He awoke with a start and saw he was still the king and was being fanned by his servants and the guards were standing by the gate. With this comforting knowledge, he again dozed off and again found himself thrashed within an inch of his life. Again, he awoke to find himself a king being fanned by servants and guards standing by the gate. Determined to resolve the truth of the matter, he arose and called his court advisers and asked them, which is real: waking or dreaming.? None could give him a satisfactory answer, so he threw the lot of them in the dungeon.
It so happened that one of the advisers had a crippled son named Yajnavalkya who was an enlightened being; so, when his father did not come home that night, he inquired of his whereabouts and learned the story of the king's question. Thereupon, he presented himself to King Janaka who posed to the crippled boy his quandary. The boy told the king that neither waking nor dreaming was real. He said the only reality is a third state of consciousness which could only be attained through meditation, and to know the truth of all things that the king must become established in that state.
Voltaire has written, "When we dream we are dreaming, then we are very nearly awake." He too knew that in this waking dream we can awaken to consciousness beyond the mind, transcend the drama of the objective world and fantasy of the dream state, and live in the peace and joy of the one reality: the inner Self. This inner Self is witness to all other states and phenomena; this is the realm of inner peace and happiness.
Just the Basics
One of the characteristics of life is consciousness. All life is conscious at some level of awareness according to its sophistication of sensory acuity. There is only one consciousness and each entity of life lives in this universal consciousness as well as in its local consciousness.
Human-kind has the highest potential for opening the field of universal consciousness fully into local consciousness. There are, however, many barriers to be overcome in the process and only few make any progress at all.
The first barrier is encountered soon after birth. That is, the local environment is so stimulating that the universal consciousness, being extremely subtle, is lost in the competition. Later, as language is learned, we fall under the spell of enchantment. We enter into the thralldom of the mind. The mind puts us to sleep.
It is only through stillness of mind that we begin to wake up again. In this stillness, the ecstasy of our true being flows into our lives. As one becomes established in stillness of mind, or witness consciousness, a re-centering takes place. We leave the anxieties of the made up drama and enter the unity of universal consciousness. Life in the world becomes a very high experience.
Amazing as it may seem, I have run across ancient literature that speak the truth of reality just as it is. As a sampling from the Shiva Sutras of Kashmir Shaivism, the first five sutras say it quite clearly:
1. The Self is consciousness.
2. Knowledge is bondage.
3. The sense of individuality of the empirical self is illusory. The sense of being the doer is illusory.
4. The words that arise in the mind are the basis of limited knowledge.
5. Right effort is staying in the awareness of universal consciousness.
Reading about it is one thing; mastery in stilling the mind is quite another. It appears that the mind is the disease of the Self. Enlightenment is to know the knower, hear the hearer, observe the observer.
Language is the fundamental neurosis of this species. The preoccupation with symbol-making arose as an adaptation to cope with sensory overload that came with crowding in early civilization 10,000 years ago. Our awareness has become dominated by symbolic laundering of sensory input and fantasy of past and future. This fabrication is the veil that corrupts the present reality and conceals the joyous tranquility of pristine consciousness.
To regain our full humanness, we must seek out the ecstasy of our being by stilling the ceaseless agitation of the mind. The suffering in our lives comes from believing that the made-up drama of words and pictures appearing in the mind is the reality. True happiness is found in becoming established in the state of consciousness unconditioned by the mind. This state is deep peace, divine bliss, Shiva, the peace that passeth understanding, Buddha nature, eternal life, Yoga, the absolute, and many other names for our original nature.
Once right understanding is attained, then suffering becomes optional, that is, a matter of choice. When one chooses pain over joy, it becomes almost comical that one would make such a choice, and the tragedy of it all begins to get diluted. Ultimately, we will cease allowing anything but the ecstasy of universal consciousness into our life. Really, happiness is what this life is all about. Finding the key to happiness is absolutely the greatest attainment of a lifetime.
There is not much else to say about it except that meditation is the path to enduring happiness.
How Can We Awaken?
[Excerpt from a letter to Christine]
The great Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan has said: "The message is a call to those whose hour has come to awake, and it is a lullaby to those who are still meant to sleep."
If we are asleep, who or what is it that is supposed to awaken? Furthermore, what means are to be used to cause this awakening? From time to time, we all have inexplicable episodes of well-being, joy, even rapture. If we recognize this experience as an upwelling of our eternal nature and seek identity with this inner state, then we have set foot upon the path. Even if we have a great longing for we don't know what, it is this longing that is the driving force to reunite us with our lost Self, to re-member. The "I" who sleeps is the ego-self identified with the body and the play of incessant word pictures spun out by the mind. The "I" who is fully awake is the eternal, unchanging, uncreated and undying, all knowing, all powerful and ever-present, the absolute, unconditioned consciousness. I, the eternal witness, observe myself patiently, dreaming the play.
The means: meditation. The Self sees through our eyes between the words. Awakening is remembering that I am the divine presence and I simply watch the play while being absorbed in the joyous tranquility of my true nature. In the beginning, of course, we are easily enthralled by the drama. But, gradually, the sweetness of our truest Self emerges and we drift free from the bondage of our limited self.
* * *
Meditation is a turning within, the opening of the inner eye, observing the observer. So, what do we see when we look in at what looks out, when we perceive that which perceives? We sense a live field of being, tangible to experience. It is formless, unbounded, not related to time and space, conscious, and intelligent. This is the silent witness of all manifestation. But, it is not as if the manifest is separate from the unmanifest. There is a force or driving power which streams through this conscious ground-state and creates light, thought, will, activity, knowledge, and feeling. This life stream is even audible as the inner sound. Out of the unmanifest is created the manifest aspects of the same unity. Throughout the ages, all who have sought the source find the same inner experience. We can only conclude that this sublime being of consciousness is the Self of all. So very gradual is the process of unfoldment. Much is required to overcome the conditioning of a lifetime. The teachings of the great beings bring the truth to the mind. The practice of meditation brings the truth of experience that the universe is consciousness and bliss. The subtle power of the true guru brings awakening and freedom: awakening to the true nature of our being, and freedom from the suffering caused by the tyranny of the mind. It is the teaching of Bhagwan Nityananda that:
A person remains ordinary as long as he is led by the mind; But, freed from the mind he becomes a great saint. What is the use of many words? Meditate. You will get everything through meditation.
* * *
When we bring to full consciousness the true state of our being, the divine presence, we radiate the infinite in its fullness. When we think we are only this separate person, the contraction of the ego veils the truth.
Who we think this person is consists of illusory concepts and mental conditioning. This is the way the Self hides from Itself. The Self is revealed when the mind becomes still and we experience directly the presence that enlivens this form. Then we know beyond any doubt the true nature of our identity. We are waves of the absolute in the ocean of bliss.
The true teacher is one who lives fully in the transcendent state all the time and has the power to awaken others to this unlimited consciousness. Consider the inductance coil; the signal on one coil is transmitted by inductance to an adjacent coil. The signal is transmitted without distortion only if there is not already some signal on the second coil. Similarly, the full state is received by the student only if the student is free of interference and resistance. One can maintain this state by constant remembrance and choosing authenticity of perfection every moment.
In this Yoga of Discrimination, one discriminates the real from the illusory. The final discrimination is that only consciousness is real and everything else is unreal. From this it is realized that everything that is unreal is also consciousness. Therefore, all is the one Self of existence, consciousness and bliss absolute.
That is what they say.
But what is meant by real? What is meant by illusion? There is something about the evidence of my own experience that tells me that this world is real. This inconsistency must be reconciled or yoga becomes just another mental trip.
Wisdom of the Yoga of Discrimination teaches that the only real is the immutable and eternal self-luminous consciousness. The unreal is whatever changes or is compounded and eventually disperses. So, illusory, in this context, means ephemeral. The enchantress Maya only calls one to the thralldom of the ephemeral, while the longing in our being call us to be reunited with the truth of our being; the immutable and eternal contentment of conscious awareness unfettered by the distraction of the mind.
Right use of intelligence is to reflect back upon itself and open the inner eye of Self-consciousness. Meditation is the treatment of choice for this infirmity of preoccupation with the ephemeral, which only leads to suffering.
* * *
Said a friend: Oh, I get it! The game is to wake up before you die. Nicely put.
It is the self-luminous consciousness of our own true nature seeing past the veil of the mind. It is our own divine Self awakening to the sacredness of all being. The catch is that the mind must be free of fantasy, must rest in stillness.
What went wrong? Why does the mind obsess over name and form? How come the species isn't naturally immersed in transcendence?
There is a seeking instinct that is common to all life: pseudopodia in amoeba; phototropism in plants; reptilia seeking movement and vibration, etc. This seeking is deeply rooted in the structures of our central nervous system, the brain stem or reptilian brain. It is inextricably linked with survival of the organism. The power of this instinct is demonstrated in our fascination for television and computers. Stuff on the screen moves, and we are captivated. Sport is about a moving target. When the ball stops, the game stops. And, it is not sporting to shoot a duck sitting still in the water.
As long as there are thoughts moving in the sensorium, we naturally follow them. Overcoming this tendency flies in the face of our deepest conditioning. This seeking instinct lives in the service of survival of the body and mind. However, we are neither the body nor the mind. Therefore this flight of fantasy only keeps us asleep to the bliss of being.
It is common for most people to strive to fill up their physical lives with attachment to possessions; to fill up their mental lives with attachment and aversion to ideals, concepts and beliefs; to fill up their emotional lives with attachment and aversion to personal relationships and righteous causes.
The great sadness is that all of this stuff is ephemeral, just a passing distraction, only the narcotic of craving and ignorance. This filling up of one's ego with the stuff of the world is precisely what weaves the shroud over knowledge of one's true identity.
To know the Self, to see clearly into the truth of being, is a process of emptying out all that is illusory. This is not just an exercise for the mind. One must disentangle one's life from the attachments, aversions, cravings, fear, and ignorance. Let it go. Wrench free from the quicksand of Maya. Turn the striving toward emptiness. Crave the emptiness. Embody the emptiness.
Then, in the stillness of meditation, look within and behold the self-luminous vastness of rapture. This is liberation. This is enlightenment. This is finding the Self by losing the self. This is becoming the divine presence.
Spiritual death is attained through desire for the ephemeral. Immortality is attained through awakening to the inner consciousness of the immutable and eternal state of unfettered awareness.
Immortality is when there is no more death. So how can there be immortality when we all die some day? First, we need to know what dies and what doesn't. The body dies. That is for sure. We have all seen dead bodies. The mind dies. To understand this better, we need to know that the mind has three constituent aspects: manas, buddhi, and ahamkara. Manas is the recording faculty that receives impressions gathered by the senses from the outside world. Buddhi is the discriminative faculty that classifies these impressions and reacts to them. Ahamkara is the ego that maintains the sense of individuality. When the body dies, these faculties no longer function, so the mind naturally expires with the body.
What is left?
A person has four bodies: gross, subtle, causal, and supracausal. The gross body is the physical form. The subtle body is the carrier of karmic impressions as the atman migrates through successive incarnations. Th e causal body is the pranic force within the subtle body and is untouched by karma. The supra-causal body is the free and formless universal consciousness: immutable and immortal. As long as we think we are the physical body, we will die; then return to take another body because of our attachment to, and focus on, the form. When we turn within and discover the knower of the mind, we awaken to that which continues unaffected when the form falls away. To become established in the consciousness of the light of being behind the mind is to make the leap into immortality. Th at is when there is no more death.
Excerpted from Meditation by Dennis Hill. Copyright © 2014 Dennis Hill. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
There Are So Many Questions!, 1,
Perspectives East and West, 19,
Identity and Cosmology, 38,
Destiny & Purpose; Everything & Nothing, 51,
SELF Revelation, 68,
Final Transcendence, 88,
Where Does It All End?, 111,
The Mystery of Consciousness, 126,
Song of the Buddha, 131,
Just for Fun, 136,
Glossary of Terms, 141,