Ever since I was a child I’ve had repeated dreams where I can fly. I literally just bend my legs and lean upward and I fly. At first there is a bit of an unsure feeling, but I quickly get the hang of it and delight in my ability to fly!
A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to attend a day long retreat/teaching with the Dalai Lama. He spoke of meditation within our current frenzied cultural context as a source of peace, focus and something that engenders compassion. He also spoke about the endless chatter that we all have going on in our minds, whether or not we are aware of it. He said: “Who wouldn’t want a break from all that every now and then!”
The other night I had another dream that I was able to fly. As always I woke up feeling sad that it was a dream and that I really can’t fly. Yet, for some reason, this particular dream of flying began to get connected with my meditation. Meditation is a way to fly on this side of life; it’s a taste of the total freedom and total weightlessness that we will experience – both a psychological weightlessness and a physical weightlessness. When one meditates, the deeper we go, the more unaware of our body and mind we are and, in a sense, we begin to fly! Some even say we get more in contact and at one with everything that is around us – because, as physicists say, everything that exists is simply wave energy vibrating at a certain frequency. This creates matter. When we meditate I believe we are in touch with this Energy (capital intentional, i.e., God) at more fundamental levels and so we begin to experience a freedom from this particular body and a unity with all that exists, all Energy – and in this sense, we fly!
Jesus said “the kingdom is at hand,” it’s here! What a blessing and what a relief that we can begin to experience the kingdom right here and now. I believe I can fly!
As I continue “Just Sitting” – my Zazen practice – I remain intrigued by what it’s doing, yet at the same time trying to be unattached from expectation that anything will come of it. This simple (and not so simple!) opening of the body, spirit and mind connects us directly to Source Energy, God, Spirit and when you think about it, that’s freak’n amazing!! I find myself more aware, looking to see what this silence will bring.
Most of the time I find it difficult not to think, and simply concentrate on my breathing. The mind, the ego will not easily shut up. It does NOT want to give up control! Yet, what a relief it is to stop the incessant chatter within! I can only imagine what this must do to the brain. I can’t help but believe that in the process of this silence of the mind, the brain is literally making new connections. I am convinced that in this silence I am more lined up with Source, and Divine will becomes my will. In this silence the ego is shut up and I somehow feel more directly connected to God – I let go of control. I get out of the way. Maybe that’s what “let go, and let God” means. Normally when I give up control, I find myself, at least apprehensive, if not downright fearful. Yet as a result of this silence I find myself looking forward in hopeful expectation to see what will unfold in my life – and that of the world (because it‘s not just about my life, but affecting the world). Instead of a problem to be solved, life is becoming a Mystery to be lived. I look forward to the journey!
The other day I was made aware of a movie called “Into Great Silence.” It is a documentary film directed by Phillip Groning which portrays the lives of the Carthusian Monks of the Grande Charteuse Monastery high in the French Alps. It’s known to be one of the most austere monasteries. I imagine that many people might be bored out of their minds by this movie, as it definitely takes one “into great silence,” as its title suggests. The movie is around two and a half hours long and most of it is silence. It simply shows the monks in their day to day lives – without offering commentary or explanation. These monks do not talk, except when they are in common prayer and once a week after a meal on Sundays. So it’s quiet! Disturbingly so! Yet, . . . Refreshingly so. Talk about counter-cultural!
After watching this movie I wondered how much we may all be seduced away from the silence by the incessant, and sometimes, unnoticeable noise all around us. I wonder if all the noise that surrounds us, or that we choose to be surrounded by – lulls us into a dull sense of living, and ultimately – in our society – a crisis of meaning.
When I enter into the silence, which is initially disturbing, I am lead to a greater sense of myself, a more peaceful place and, in the process, I become a more compassionate presence in the world. It is nothing short of hard work to stay with silence, but I am becoming more and more conscious of the tremendous difference it makes in my life and work. I feel as if I am slowly being seduced by it. In entering the silence I give up control to a Higher Power, which is initially disturbing. But now I am intrigued by it, curious and interested to see what happens. And something is happening. I don’t quite know what it is, but I know it’s good.
Today I was meditating, and, as often is the case, my mind gets going and I want to get up and start getting something done that I’m thinking about. Sometimes it is “work” just to sit there. Funny huh? “Work” just to sit there?
The White Robed Monks call this “Just Sitting,” a practice adopted from Zen, where one simply sits 15 minutes a day, concentrating on the breath and clearing the mind of all thought. When we do this our mind, our ego revolts. That little voice in our heads just doesn’t want to leave us alone.
What struck me this morning again is that when I want to heed that voice within, when I want to get up and start moving and stop this sitting – I am not trusting! In essence, when I break the meditation and start running, I am saying that I trust more in myself than I do in Divine Power. My experience, however, says that when I stay with this “work,” when I simply sit and make an empty space in my mind, I connect directly with Source Energy, God, the Spirit. Suddenly my work is given energy and much more is accomplished – and somehow – directly as a result of thinking no-thing, my thoughts are clarified and my life is given meaning and direction. It’s like I have suddenly been plugged in!
Can I trust enough to stay with the silent embrace and make a space in my life to connect with Source? Try it. And see what happens!
This morning after prayer and meditation, I read a section of Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. At a coffee shop recently a friend of mine saw me reading that book and said: “Are you STILL reading that book? Haven’t you finished it yet?” What I’ve been doing though is just reading a little bit everyday, kind of like a daily meditation. This morning I continued reading his section on relationships and how to deal with stress or conflict.
For any of you who are partnered, I highly recommend this read. Any of us who are alive and breathing have relationships, whether they be partners, family, co-workers or friends. Conflicts are inevitable. Tolle gives some great direction on how to deal with those situations when someone starts getting on your nerves. He speaks of getting outside the ego, and approaching the person from a place of inner “presence.” When we have our judging ego out of the way, we can peacefully point out things to our partners, friends or co-workers. By doing so we remove judgment and emotionally charged response. Of course, if the other person isn’t present and is in their ego, they will probably get hurt and react in some way. It’s important for us not to get our ego back in the picture by reacting in turn. But if they are awake, they will be able to simply listen. Conversely, when someone points something out to us in a non-judgmental way, we will simply be able to listen without judging or reacting.
Some great advise, I think, for living and loving well. I’ve got a ways to go in getting my ego out of the way. But this is a great tool to have and to practice, instead of allowing emotional reaction to run amuck!
Are you ever attacked by a feeling that grabs you out of the blue and holds you captive? OK, I’m going to be embarrassed to admit this, but here goes. At the airport a couple of weeks ago I saw two cute guys talking in a bar/restaurant and it became obvious to me that they had just met and were interested in each other. Before they parted for their flights they exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. I found myself jealous. How stupidly immature it seemed of me! Where the hell was this coming from?
When I was able to step back and simply observe what I was feeling I quickly came to realize that this was a perfect example of the ego within. The ego ALWAYS wants more and is NEVER satisfied. It constantly reaches out for something more to fill its seeming emptiness. Sometimes it’s things. Sometimes it’s a place. And sometimes it’s a person. We are driven by it at various times. Instead of remembering all that we have had and have in our lives and being content with that, the ego constantly keeps us agitated, insisting that we MUST have this NOW, or else we will find ourselves eternally unhappy! This is the great lie, the great illusion that keeps us running after this or that. The advertising industry knows this full well!
The paradox is that if we listen to the ego and keep reaching out for what we don’t have, we will INDEED be unhappy! Conversely, if we gently let go of the screaming ego in our minds and become present, we will find that we lack nothing and we become open again to what Life will bring in THIS moment. When I became conscious of this, suddenly I wasn’t jealous of these two guys anymore and, with a smile, I wished them well as I overheard one of them call the other guy shortly after they parted and leave him a message. Who knows, maybe it will be a love connection that carries them through life?
When I become conscious of the chatter and pull of the ego, I quickly am able to let go. Envy turns to gratitude and celebration! And, paradoxically, in the letting go I am open to Life as it is and become present to Its surprises.