Enough is Enough

When is Humanity Going to Get That We’re All in This Together?

Posts Tagged ‘Kashmir Shaivism’

The OK mudra

Posted by majutsu on August 5, 2010

There is an opening into the dimension of the timeless awareness that is the source of everything and in which we are all one. This opening or keyhole is total, personal awareness. There are many tricks and methods to get to that place of being right on the verge of experiencing total, personal awareness in the now. The final step over the precipice of selflessness, however, must be taken by faith – for it is a place where the mind alone cannot lead.
The mind can lead the seeker right up to that precipice, however. In fact, the accumulated store of mantras, mudras, meditations, practices, bhaktis, and so on, is nothing but a collection of tools, pointers to that precipice where grace must take over. In particular, I was reading recently about an analysis of a certain mudra (meditative hand-gesture) that has been used in the past. Sometimes, when reading about ancient mystical traditions, one is struck by the powerful thought and analysis that has gone into to some of these cherished pointers over the years. It might say something about our spiritual and cultural degradation that so many of these mean so little to anyone now.
The mudra being studied in this piece is rather simple – its ramifications are not! The mudra is the thumb touching the forefinger of either hand, as though you were saying, “OK!” The main thought of this mudra is that the experience and the experienced are relative, semantic distinctions, and in reality, they are really one. To begin, touch the thumb to the forefinger as described above. Now, imagine you are the thumb, a stout little creature, and that as you touch and untouch the thumb and forefinger repeatedly, try to be conscious of yourself as a little thumb being stabbed repeatedly by this external, poking first finger. Usually within 30-40 seconds, you can really be conscious of yourself as experiencing thumb and the finger as the experienced. Relax your hand and mind and begin again. This time, try to be conscious of yourself as a slender finger being pounded on repeatedly by this smashing, thick thumb. Again, within an average of 40 seconds or so, you will be conscious of yourself as the experiencing finger being mashed by this oppressive thumb. You can do this repeatedly, back and forth, getting a sense of yourself alternatively as thumb or finger, with the roles of experiencer and experienced changing rapidly. In this way, within a few minutes, you can build a sense, a feeling, of the truth that experiencer and experienced are one event. Both Newtonian physics before and quantum physics now discuss the idea that experiencer and experienced are tied together in a profound and essential relationship. What else is fascinating about this mudra is the readiness with which we, as we play the game, willingly shrink our consciousness down to a body part – “I am a thumb” – when that same consciousness is capable of saying “I am a person” or even expanding to comprehend the entire universe!
So there are two main points that can be internalized on the bodily, experiential level through this exercise: 1) Consciousness can be so easily limited (“I am a thumb, “I am this body part,” or “I am this miserable situation in my life”) that it throws serious doubt on any assumed limits we tend to place on consciousness or true identity. 2) Experiencer and experienced are one, inseparable being. Since we tend to divide the universe into myself and all-that-other-stuff-out-there, experiencer and experienced, we must accept by the mudra that the world and I are really one being in a complex interaction since experiencer and experienced are arbitrary and inseparable. This is why, in quantum mechanics, sometimes, the universe or other system is described in terms of a wave state, a totality of the way things are. This is because the proverbial butterfly flapping her wings in one part of the world might provide the critical molecular stimulus for some crucial physical event elsewhere in the world. With such vast interdependence, it is futile to talk of parts or complete causes.
Also, if the experiencer (me) and the experienced (everything else) are really one totality, having already cast doubt on the assumed limits of our consciousness, we must certainly see that the consciousness and being that pervade the universe must arise from the consciousness of me, my self, much as the finger’s consciousness or “I am-ness” arises from the same source as the thumb’s consciousness or “I am-ness.” That matter-energy field that is me-and-the-world-together sings without limit or border, much like a beam of light keeps going through space indefinitely in the absence of reflection, refraction or absorption. And since the vibration we are contains everything, timelessly, what could there be to bounce off of? So we sing the song of creation, everywhere, timelessly, without border.
What sort of implications does this belief structure have? First of all, personal identity, which requires that certain experiences being acquired or excluded, and that the awareness of the universe being limited to a particular fleshy body, collapses in the faces of an indistinguishable experiencer-experienced pair as well as an inability to draw a border around awareness. It is the artificial structure of the personal identity that causes us chronic unhappiness, experiences we crave or don’t want to have, identities we don’t want to live out etc. This is what causes us to hurt the ones closest to us that we love the most. On a larger scale, our misidentification with race or nation causes genocide and war. Our severing the oneness we share with the earth is the cause of our rampant environmental degradation. Our knowledge that our true identity always was and always will be, unchanged, erases our identification with birth and chronic dread of death. This absence of fear enables us to love ourselves and others effortlessly and fully, celebrating our joy and oneness instead of suffering our divisiveness and fear.
You can see that understanding who we really are is one of the most important tasks we face at this time. The implications of becoming “OK” with who we really are can transform our lives, our relationships, our nations and our planet. If we don’t soon wake from this nightmare and figure out how to become “OK” with our selves, the suffering could be so deep and catastrophic that our compassionate queen may well shred apart everything to end the suffering of delusion as well as to teach the doctrine of love and awareness. There is the path of suffering and the path of reason and practice. The path of suffering is hard and is one I try to save myself and my own children from when possible. Since we need no time to become “right,” merely an instant, let it happen now like sunshine fills a dark room once the window is un-shuttered.

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Notes from the zafu

Posted by majutsu on July 8, 2010

I recently acquired a zafu while buying one for my wife. I haven’t sat in about fifteen years. When I did sit, without the purifying that suffering over time provides, I’m afraid I was better at observing the trappings of Buddhism: sitting, dietary rules, and a book collection, as opposed to being anywhere close to an understanding of the profound change required in terms of the way one interacts with the world in order to have accepted the teaching of the Buddhist path. Of course, over time, one loses many things: people, money, objects, and opportunities, and this enables you to accept reality in its ups and downs versus building an elaborate fantasy world in the head to rage against the world-as-it-is on a stage built to your design. This unadorned awareness is the beginning of sitting and practice.
While I no longer think of myself as a Buddhist, and find Shaivism and Christianity interesting as well, meditation draws to mind, for many people, Buddhist teachings. Buddhism encourages de-attachment from the ego-centered world. Certainly, the source of much suffering in this world is people wanting many things when they really need nothing. Not only are “small-scale” sufferings like depression and anxiety caused by this wanting, but many large-scale sufferings like war, poverty and environmental damage to an extent incompatible with sustaining human life. But chasing down whiffs of ego and snuffing them out can be tiring and unproductive as I know from experience.
I prefer to focus on “the now” because it’s one of the few English word/concepts that is by itself formless and inconceivable. Grasping now is like trying to stop a river. There is no hunger right now, no poverty, no family, no possessions. If, for example, you were sad about not having friends, you could realize that if you had them or not, you could hardly make use of them right there at that moment on that zafu. If your partner is dying this week, s/he is not dying right then at the second on that zafu, and you don’t even have a partner at that instant on that zafu. You can’t lose your job at that second on that zafu. At that second, there is no oil spill, no political corruption, no environmental damage. All these concepts are contingent upon the passage of time. This practice negates the illusions of ego while performing a positive activity, being intensely aware of this very moment. In this precise moment, rather easily, a very peaceful, beautiful nothing is experienced – what I suppose many would call experiencing God. It is very easy to expand this awareness into compassion for every human being you meet. It is very easy to expand this awareness into an experience of the Earth as a cohesive whole that we should respect, love and enjoy.
I hope my thoughts and tips on sitting may be helpful to others. I know Eckhart Tolle and the Shiva sutras have been helpful to me. I hope I have communicated my internalization of some teachings well. Please share any thoughts or tips on sitting.

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