Some media and some confrontation

Watching Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun” affected me pretty strongly on Thursday and Friday. I felt overwhelming poignacy and it left a sense the mind is a joke, essentially a lie. Also listened to a couple podcasts that got me thinking: What happens when you don’t use intuition? You get ghost stories on your show like #2 in Anything Ghost podcast #80. This series is otherwise thought stimulating, so far. Also, in a success-book-highlights podcast Philosopher’s Notes, in an episode called “The Secret of Happiness” the question raised is: What do you love? And, what percent of your life do you dedicate to it? My answer was, truth and friendships (esp. on the path) and 10% and less than 1%.

The Saturday PSI meeting and meditation left me in a spot of high tension. In life there are things I both want and fear and watching such a “perfect” conflict (as Art put it) leads me to feel it really is a terrible experience and I want transcendence or death. He also pointed out within threat is I will get thrown back into the void, and so I’m fearing the void/death. When I am meditating on being on my deathbed, however, the songs of only life lose their value because I want to know about life and death now. To really know death I need to die, so I am trying to bring my mind to that point and beyond.

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Uncertainty

Below is the first thing I wrote in an attempt to publish a post. I felt like it was really heady and intellectual and so I didn’t finish it or post it. But alas, I wrote it – and there are some genuine thoughts and sentiments in it…

After several months of being hyper-focused on the “design” of my life(style), I can’t help but wonder what any of it has to do with anything on the Path. It feels so remotely related to the Problem. Am I deluding myself in this? Rose harped on lifestyle – and there have certainly been times in my own life where I felt compelled to make some real changes in my “life setup”. However, in all of these cases, it was ambiguous as to whether this change was made out of a desire to make my life “better” or to make my life more centered on “Seeking”. But the truth is that it was neither: I made the changes because they felt right, they felt like “further”, “forward”, “growth”, and “health”. Now, I am questioning whether “healthy” and “spiritually driven” or “spiritually on track” are the same thing. My intuition has always said that they are. But this doesn’t seem to be the position of Rose and others in the world of TAT. That’s not to say that anyone is claiming that “spiritually driven” is unhealthy, but that seeking Truth doesn’t have a lot to do with seeking “health”.

What do I mean by “health”? Well, what the hell do I mean by “Truth”? I think that capital “T” Truth is conceptually rooted in the Longing. But I don’t know what the Longing is for other than total freedom from suffering. We can (pre- or post-enlightenmnet) whip up a Platonic metaphysics wherein all manifestations are shadowy intimations of Truth. Thus, the root of Longing is in actually in Truth – in Who I Am – but appears to be rooted in some thing. But the other explanation is equally as valid: Truth is nothing but the moment when the yearning for total freedom from suffering finally inverts the gestalt of experience – nothing more. Personally, I feel that it is both simultaneously. To me, this possibility seems paramount.

The Rosean notion of “backing away from untruth” is nothing new. This is the “neti, neti” of the Indian sages; the “via negativa” of Pseudo-Dionysius and the Christian mystics; the “drg drsya viveka” of traditional Advaita Vedanta; and so on. It’s clear that this is a proven path of great importance. What isn’t clear to me is whether this skeptical stance serves to pre-form the “enlightenment” experience that one has. What I mean is that we are starting this journey from the vantage point of being the mind; thus, whatever we do is inherently a stance. The stance of “no stance” is as much a stance as any other. So, “backing away from untruth” is still starting from a proposed truth, namely that truth can’t be approached directly. This observation is very antithetical to the traditional perspective of the path to Enlightenment, which likes to assert that we deny untruths and approach Truth obliquely or indirectly. The “guiding system” we use to say “this is untrue” is called “intuition” – but this could be just a fancy name to fill in the gaps and make the system of the negative way appear coherent – just like any other system. In other words, we say that it is “intuition” when we don’t have any other explanation for why we choose one thing over another; but saying that such choices are based on “intuition” allows us to feel that the choices are not based on assumptions that we are reifying and upon which we are building toward Truth, but are rather in tandem with a deconstructive operation whereby we dismantle assumptions.

The above paragraph is, of course, a subtle and nuanced objection of the mind – an alternative explanation. But I feel that it is not complicated at all. It’s quite simple, in fact. Again, we’re starting from the vantage point of being the mind: we take ourselves to be the observer of experience, and yet we also take ourselves to be an object within experience, within the field of observation. So we are aware and we are consciously aware. Within this formulation, we have to admit a contradiction: how can I be two awarenesses – the one that’s aware and the one that’s conscious that it’s aware? The via negativa takes one of the inherent assumptions of this self-conception and runs it to its limit point. The ultimate stance of Advaita Vedanta is one of non-duality or complete Oneness. It’s for this reason that Advaita Vedanta considers itself “avidya” or “non-truth” – it’s a prop to assist in the dismantling of the mind. So when Shankara composed “Drg Drsya Viveka” (“Subject-Object Discrimination”), he wasn’t laying down a creed, but a methodology. He was saying, “You take yourself to be the observer of your experience, so admit that and run that to its logical conclusion, bearing in mind that anything that you observe cannot be yourself”. But this is – undeniably and irreducibly – an assumption.

Now, for one who yearns to be free of suffering, the fact that we cannot not make assumptions may not be of much interest, but it does not change that fact. Mentioning all of this may not effect much, but it does seem important – at least to this person – to be honest in every way possible. I think that the denial of this fact and the endorsement of the notion that we can really honestly say that we are asbolutely backing away from untruth is built on fear. I have seen this in myself a thousand times! The denial and its correlative endorsement are built on the fear that (a) if I admit this fact, my search will be jeopordized; and (b) if I admit this fact, I must also admit that a final and impregnable relief from my suffering may not be possible.

What’s been going on lately?

Job search – I’m looking for a job. This task is difficult in our current climate of ‘economic crisis’. I spent most of last week preparing for a numerical and verbal reasoning test that I was given to complete by last Saturday by a firm I’m interested in. I’m not a big fan of these tests! They’re designed to assess speed and accuracy. I haven’t heard back from them yet.

Meditation – Since the 18th of March I set myself the task of meditating daily for 30 days. Why? I wanted to build ‘power’, to build an ability to DO what I say I’ll do. It was going well for 17  days, and then a slip occurred last Sunday, when I slept through my meditation session. This slip was followed by a complete miss; the next day, Monday, I unintentionally missed a meditation session. 

So what does this say about me? 

Well, the first two weeks of an endeavour set by myself seems to be easily carried out. This is probably because I’m riding a wave of inspiration. (It has been recently revealed to me that I’m an emotional type). But after this two week ‘grace period’ when my inspiration peters out, things get difficult. There’s either a slip of some kind, or there’s a temptation to slip. I’ve seen this happen before on numerous occasions and it’s about time I do something about it!

I started this task again two days ago, (the 7th of April).  In Shawn Nevins’ article, ‘The Seeker’s List of Things To Do’, he says the following: 

Fall and rise a thousand times if need be: I know some people who will set a goal to meditate every morning, do so for a week, then give up after they miss a morning. They despair over their temporary failure. The key is to keep at it, even if you miss every other day. Even if you never manage to meditate every single morning, to keep trying is what matters. If you approach the task in that manner, you will discover of what you are capable, and what you are — likely different than your original conception.

Inspiring words. I’ll keep hacking away at this until I reach the 30 day goal I originally set for myself.

I’ll update you on my progress.

Maybe I’m on the path

This week I missed a lot of meditations, and when meditating I’d feel no energy, no desire, and just wait for the time to be up. Many meditations were also while driving or walking, few of those ever being good for me.

The brightest spots came listening to early Rose lectures at work. Best was a recording of his The Path lecture. It seems like I’m understanding what he’s trying to point at better than three years ago. This feeling doesn’t come with a sense I’m definitely right, in fact it has a lot of doubt, e.g. how could it be that simple – I thought this was mysticism, where’s the un-understandable transcendence? I know I could be way off, but maybe I’m right.
Also on Monday I want to Ben’s PSI meeting and one question in the vein of what do you know for sure led me to sense I need the mind to stop to see myself.

I did pass on movie watching and restaurant going but worked very late two days and spent my weekend with family, so lost any prioritization effect. With family, I did spend time with kids following advice to become like a little child. After no weekend meditations, I felt a desire for a good meditation on my trip home, but didn’t stop and wait for it to possibly happen.

This coming week, I’d like to continue to manage my influences and allow inspiration and clarity to carry over into most meditating.