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Fwd: A Glimpse of the Goal - George Fowler

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  • Michael Read <maread@taosnet.com>
    ... A Glimpse of the Goal When meditation finally worked for me, it wasn t what I d been taught to expect. The contemplative experience wasn t what the books
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 3, 2003
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      --- In AdvaitaToZen@yahoogroups.com, Jan Sultan <swork@m...> wrote:
      A Glimpse of the Goal

      When meditation finally worked for me, it wasn't what I'd
      been taught to expect. The contemplative experience wasn't what the
      books I'd read on the topic prepared me for, or even what spiritual
      directors and father masters had promised me in a silence-bound
      Trappist monastery hidden away in the mountains and dedicated to
      nothing but the contemplative life.
      The difference is this. For years I had been working doggedly
      at the front door of my spirit, preparing for an eventual, sublime,
      marriagelike union with an intimate, but separate, Divine Being. One
      day, to my astonishment, I found that the Object of my search had all
      along been patiently waiting for me, unrecognized, at the center of
      my house.
      The One I had been seeking wasn't a separate Being at all.
      God not only wasn't somewhere off across the universe, he wasn't even
      separate here inside of me. God, my Source Being, was present and
      expressing Itself as me.
      The One with whom I eventually recognized my oneness, my
      union, was not the separate God -howsoever loving and attentive-
      about whom I had been taught since childhood. Instead, and exactly as
      world mystics and spiritual masters like Plotinus, Meister Eckhart,
      Paramahansa, Jesus, and the Buddha have been reporting for millennia -
      something which I and millions like me had obviously not understood-
      the Supreme Being turned out to be the Eternal Existence present and
      expressing Itself as my own deepest nature, what some spiritual
      traditions suggested I call my "Higher Self."
      To use a metaphor of Meister Eckhart that cannot be repeated
      too often, when I was searching for God, I was like a person riding
      an ox while looking for an ox to ride on.

      AS THE CONTEMPLATIVE STATE ADVANCES, it becomes increasingly
      difficult to explain either the process of how we got where we are or
      exactly what the experience itself is like. This experience differs
      so significantly from what the rational mind and human logic expect
      that neither mind nor its logic can understand or explain it. They
      have none of their customary points of reference on which to build.
      Not the least cause of this confusion is the fact that the
      contemplative experience itself is substantially simpler than that to
      which our minds are accustomed. It's easier to use metaphors than to
      try to describe contemplative union with God explicitly. Eventually,
      however, we do have to try to get beyond metaphors and discover their
      meanings. If this high state cannot be shared exactly, we must at
      least tell something about it and about what it feels like.
      What is the contemplative state like? It's finding yourself existing,
      be-ing, in a totally different kind of awareness than you've ever
      known. You have become aware, for the very first time, that you are
      an eternal "expression" of Existence, or, translating the Latin roots
      of that word, an "out-pressing" of Eternal Existence, of God. When
      this astonishing realization registers, it becomes at that moment a
      dance in your spirit, a laughter somewhere inside, a clarity of the
      mind that is at once the most profound and simplest experience you've
      ever known, and at the same time the least specific. You feel an
      overwhelming sense of lightheartedness that sometimes, literally,
      makes you short of breath.
      If what I have just written makes the contemplative state
      sound unrealistic, then I have expressed myself poorly. Once this
      state is possessed, it is no more mysterious or strange than meeting
      an old friend. And it's just as comfortable. It may seem elusive at
      first, but that's because it's too close for conventional scrutiny.
      It may make us ill at ease briefly, may even scare us, but that's
      only because it's unfamiliar.

      IT'S HELPFUL TO UNDERSTAND from the beginning that there are
      variables along the route to spiritual breakthrough that should not
      be given too much attention. How well you can concentrate, for
      example, is not critical -despite a frequent misconception- or how
      well you can whip up inner images, or how long you can sit without
      fidgeting. Visions don't matter; nor do warm feelings, flashing
      lights, or even, as some report, attending angels. When, in great
      delight, you are finally aware of the reality of your deepest Being -
      and of everyone else's- you'll see clearly that all else about your
      life, by comparison, is incidental.
      In the contemplative life and the practice of meditation,
      beginners will do well not to long for visions, levitations, or any
      other unusual events that tradition calls extraordinary phenomena.
      Such happenings are simply not important. If they do occur, the
      sixteenth-century mystic John Yepes suggests that we move on quickly,
      for whatever good they were intended to effect was accomplished the
      moment they happened. Any dalliance over them will be a distraction
      at least, a service to vanity more probably.

      YOU WILL KNOW that you have arrived in a contemplative
      experience when one day -effortlessly and usually unexpectedly- you
      realize that you chop your wood and carry your water (or, replacing
      those ancient Zen images with ones of the twentieth century, you
      balance your checkbook and negotiate your commute) exactly as you did
      before, but now with the joy of knowing that it is the Source Being
      doing these things as you. When it dawns on you that the stars are
      doing your twinkling, you've got the point. When you see it is
      impossible that you'd ever again take even the subtlest part in
      bigotry, sexism, or any other illusion of competitive and fear-driven
      separateness and insecurity, you'll know you have become a meditator
      and a contemplative.
      This is not talk about a passing poetic moment, but about a
      deep, abiding, and transforming realization, one that is
      significantly more overwhelming because of being experiential and not
      just cognitive. When that day comes, you will be astonished at the
      simplicity of what has happened. You will ask, as everyone with the
      experience does, how could you have previously viewed something so
      simple as if it were difficult? You will then realize that if you
      needed help along the way to find your bliss, it was not so much to
      learn what to do, but to learn what not to do: not so much where to
      look, but where to quit looking.
      There will be times en route when you will be profoundly
      absorbed in the spiritual process and will find delight in
      understanding things more clearly than ever before. Be grateful for
      these insights, but push on. Don't call them the goal. Call them
      recollection, insight, progress, consolation, but don't think they
      constitute contemplative enlightenment. That state is not a thing of
      the intellect, but of the heart and spirit. It's not an insight, but
      an experience.
      When you feel deep peace, call it peace, not bliss. All
      meditation is peaceful, but not all peace is the sublime experience
      of contemplation. Sometimes, after all, our bodies and minds react
      blissfully over nothing more sublime than a good cheese sandwich, a
      new twist of logic, or a winning at the racetrack. We must keep our
      sights elevated, for if we truly want to meditate and to achieve the
      contemplative experience that is enlightenment, we must be convinced
      that it is significantly different from any happiness that comes from
      any kind of fortunate turn of material events.
      You are successful at meditating when you experience your
      absolute security and abundance and bliss, and your complete
      identification with all people and all things. You will then
      confidently know, without the possibility of a doubt, that the
      contemplative experience is yours.
      In that day your heart will dance, and you will no longer need this
      book to help you know what to do, or even what not to do.

      from: LEARNING TO DANCE INSIDE
      by: George Fowler
      --- End forwarded message ---
    • Jeff Belyea <jeff@mindgoal.com>
      Thanks for this, Michael. Nice resonance in the heart. Perfect. Love, Jeff
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 3, 2003
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        Thanks for
        this, Michael.
        Nice resonance
        in the heart.
        Perfect.

        Love,

        Jeff
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