Many of you will have tried mindfulness or basic meditation, paying attention to the senses to bring you into the present moment, but many people have never got beyond a mild feeling of relaxation.
If that is the case for you, you haven’t had the truly revolutionary experience that will turn the world inside out for you. To be thoroughly honest, I haven’t realised it fully myself, but just a glimpse of it has been enough to change my life.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be called Mindfulness, but Mindlessness.
A well-known Zen Buddhist aphorism goes: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”. In a similar vein, first you are mindless, you wander around so absorbed in your thoughts and the dramas of your life that you never take the opportunity to luxuriate in the great miracle of life, consciousness itself. Then you spend years and years meditating until you become mindful, your thoughts slow down, the world becomes more luminous, you feel bliss and your heart opens to the whole of creation. Yet there is still a “you” being mindful.
Finally you let go of your disciplined concentration a little bit, relax a little, yet through habit your attention stays on awareness, past and future disappear, your whole constructed identity disappears and you become truly mindless – you have opened into a space in which phenomena arise and disappear – nothing is solid, including yourself, yet you still function, surfing the eternal moment without any hope or fear for the future; your heart opens and you love every being in the world and every arising of phenomena. At least, that is what people tell me happens.
Yet you still have duality in your tool-kit. You can operate a bank account, you know the name people call you by and can respond to that name, and you know the difference between yourself and other people. Duality has its uses!
Yet the place where you rest is in awareness itself. From here you watch phenomena, both internal thoughts and feelings and external appearances, rise, remain a while and then disappear.
So, you leave mindless wandering of thoughts, discipline yourself to be mindful and finally get to the point where mindfulness is a habit, and then you can relax and become mindless again, but from the ground of being. From here even wandering thoughts are perfect just as they are, seen to rise, stay a while and dissolve. Past and future, hope and fear, ambition, striving towards goals, are all experienced as a beautiful yet inconsequential illusion. What motivates you now is to help other people who still suffer because they still believe that their constructed reality is the truth.
Tired of living mindlessly, you become mindful, and then finally become mindless again, naturally surfing ever-changing appearances.
This article is part of a series of articles and if you are interested in the topic of spirituality, you may want to read the others in this series. They are being written as material for the fourth part of the Life Talent book which I am currently in the process of writing. The four principles are 1: Make the most of yourself and your psychological resources; 2: Overcome obstacles to happiness and success; 3: Take action; 4: Feel the support of life itself.
Articles in this series on 4: Feel the support of life itself, include:
…As well as others still to be conceived and written.
Let me know if you have any feedback, advice, thoughts or questions!