It’s not easy for Westerners to ‘live along some distant day into the answer,’ as Rilke suggests we do with our big questions. We want answers. We have spent three thousand years looking for them, touching on them, and turning our hunches into intractable ‘isms’ and schisms. On one side of the most modern schism are religious fundamentalists, who seek comfort in rigid doctrines of their own creation, and on the other side are scientific fundamentalists, who demand proof of any answer, using their own intellectual constructs to prove or disprove their own questions. If, as Einstein said, no problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it, the question of God’s existence cannot be solved by the same mind that is doing the questioning. To approach a God or a reality that is ultimately unknowable through thought, we need a different sort of consciousness. This has been sought throughout the ages. Called enlightenment in the East, union with God in the West, and ‘non-ordinary’ states of consciousness by the shamanic traditions, seekers have devised a rich variety of practices, prayers, and rituals to nurture the kind of consciousness that welcomes a vision of God. Western tradition is just as rich in its means of generation an experience of God as are other traditions. The Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions were founded by radical seekers who went alone into the wilderness, where they fasted and prayed for visions. I think that many people in today’s materialistic culture try to sedate their visionary tendencies rather than seek creative and meaningful outlets for their sacred hunger. I see the same questions that Moses and Jesus and Mohamed took into the desert in the lost look in many of our young people’s eyes. Religion has become so watered down from the original intent of its founders that many people no longer feel it satisfies their spiritual hunger. If the pursuit of the sacred were valued, we would teach healthy and effective ways of escaping the echo chamber of our limited perspective, and the hunger for God would replace the compulsion for addiction. It’s been a slow and steady climb in the Western world away from an ‘experience of the sacred.’ You can’t really blame religion. Don’t throw away the beauty of a religion’s original intent because of the ways in which it has been diluted or misused…….Elizabeth Lesser
it’s as if a dream state is actually waking, a step away from all the lightness threatening to lift us from our reality….a beautiful disassociation primed for the inner rebel we didn’t even know we had…..this paradox of opening to emptiness is most sweetly contained in the mystical realm….maybe a wabi sabi tea ritual deep in the forest green, complete with a field of wild violets and the company of fairies……every heart that breaks is felt and honored in those trees….moving through when the cup is empty….
One of the most frequent worries that nags beginners on the spiritual path is that there is some secret knowledge that could answer their deepest questions; some understanding that would unlock the deepest mysteries. There is such a secret, but it is so close, so obvious, that few recognize it. We overlook the secret of life because we look for it in the wrong place. When we finally turn attention inward, we discover that we are not who we thought we were. To know ourselves is to recognize that we are far, far more than we believed. It is to exchange our shabby self-image for our true Self and to discover that our true Self is a sacred Self and a doorway to the Divine. What is the secret of life? You are…..Roger Walsh
From where does our life of joy and sorrow arise? When the source of creation is personified, it is given names like Allah, Brahma, or God. The divine source can also be experienced outside of personification. Mystics and meditators who describe this source experience the cosmos as coming out of a sacred emptiness, a Great Void. Jewish mystics describe it like this: ‘Out of emptiness God has made the world, it exists in the heart of God alone. To know our place we must again become as nothing, and then what is holy will move through us and illuminate all we do.’ What does it mean to ‘become as nothing?’ Understanding emptiness or selflessness is disconcerting. It is hard to describe, in the way water would be obvious, yet hard to describe for a fish. The emptiness of self first shows itself first in our lack of control over our supposedly fixed ‘self.’ Anyone who turns inward to meditation or prayer immediately encounters the ever-changing thought stream of mind, and the endless ripple of moods and emotions that color each moment. In meditation we can shift our attention from the sense of everything being unconsciously tied together as ‘my experience’ to a more silent, less possessive observation. This silent observation allows us to see the first aspect of emptiness, called selflessness, or egolessness- the discovery that the usual sense of oneself as a solid separate being is only an image created in our mind. In the emptiness of the self the world becomes transparent, clear, uncomplicated. Who we are in a conventional self disappears into silence, peace, and the pure experience of being, without anyone present to possess that experience. Emptiness of self opens us to the experience of void itself, the dynamic emptiness out of which all things are born. It can be entered in many ways. Three of the most common are through meditation, through an encounter with another who is awake, and through immersion in a solitude so deep we become transparent…..Jack Kornfield