Occupy Faith

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Insight, water and transmutation of the human mind

Martin LeFevre has forwarded another wonderful contribution. Thank you Martin.
Martin says: I realize that this piece from a meditation at the sea may not fit with Desert Spirituality, but perhaps it provides a complementary contrast with it. Though I don't have a lot of experience with deserts, they evoke the same ineffable feelings in me as a wild stretch of the Pacific. Do you have the same feeling?

Miss Eagle repllies: Yes, Martin, I do. I have spent a lot of my life in deserts, but even more beside the waters of the Southern Pacific: on two great Australian harbours, Sydney Harbour and Port Denison, Bowen, at the northern end of the Whitsundays in North Queensland; and on two beautiful bays - Moreton Bay, Brisbane, and Halifax Bay, north of Townsville. For those with a similar query, Miss Eagle draws readers attention to the first post of this blog where there is a link to an article which discusses the desert as a specific place and as a symbol. There is no dichotomy. Each takes us away from our human made egotism and attachments and absorbs us into creation and the creative process by which we are re-new-ed and re-energize-d and re-awaken-ed to look at our world, as Martin points out, in a new way.
Insight Is Always New

Waves crash onto the rocks a couple hundred meters from the beach. Some shoot up like geysers, or spouting whales, in narrow plumes of white spray. Small shorebirds scamper in and out of the surf, ebbing and flowing like the tide itself.

Looking a mile or two up the protected shoreline, nearly a dozen lines of whitecaps march toward the shore. They replicate a pattern, and echo a sound, nearly as old as the earth itself.

Though it’s sunny, there is a stiff breeze. I’m tucked up against the low bluffs, which afford some protection from the wind. For a half hour there isn’t a person or sign of man in the three directions of my line of sight: directly out to sea, and in either direction along the shoreline. Then, to my bemusement, an older couple with a yapping dog and lawn chairs walks up and plops down directly in front, not 50 meters away. I move down the beach a quarter mile and continue the meditation.

The sea can make meditation easier or more difficult. Initially it is easier because the vastness of the ocean obliterates the ‘me’ immediately. But it can be more difficult to meditate (that is, move beyond thought) at the ocean because its vastness and power can induce thought to hang on. There is a deep fear of letting go, of losing oneself to emptiness. And the sea mirrors the infinite emptiness of space.

As the mind quiets down, one becomes aware of another primal fear. We humans are social apes, and have been clinging to each other for millions of years. To be deeply alone, physically or metaphysically, is to be cut off from the tribe and the clan, and for eons that meant not surviving. We carry this fear with us, which is why the tribalistic mentality remains so strong, and why so few truly stand alone.

The paradox is that though we are social creatures by nature and evolution, we can only grow to be fully human by psychologically leaving society on a regular basis. That’s what happens during genuine meditation. Returning to the world, and to thought-consciousness, we are subtly or significantly transformed.

Illumination, as I’m coming to understand it, means not returning to thought-consciousness at all. Of course, one can’t really leave society, even if one goes backpacking alone for a week in the High Sierras, since the skills and technology of society are what enable one to go. But psychologically, and even neurogenically, there is a phenomenon called illumination, though neuroscientists haven’t even begun to study it.

There is immeasurable peace in leaving the dimension of thought completely, if only for a few minutes a day. The question is, can ordinary people see not only the value, but also the imperative of doing so? In other words, can they understand what it actually means to meditate, without all the Buddhist or New Age mumbo jumbo?

Life has been unfolding for hundreds of millions of years. Yet man, who evolved along the same principles as all other life, comes along and begins to destroy everything in a matter of centuries, even generations. My basic premise is that without a transmutation of the human mind, humankind will continue to plunder the planet at an increasing rate, and destroy itself, spiritually if not materially.

What are the conditions necessary for the emergence of a new species, without setting up a duality and conflict between humans and human beings?

First of all, is the distinction between humans and human beings a useful one? I feel that it is, and that it marks a shift in the nature of consciousness greater than the difference between Neanderthals and Cro Magnons (not anatomically of course, but neurologically).

Humans are people in whom the evolutionary adaptation of symbolic thought dominates; human beings are people in whom thought no longer rules, however far from illumination they may be.

Insight is always new, wordless, and undiluted. Awakening people no longer mindlessly filter experience through words, images, and concepts (that is, thought), but in being self-aware allow insight—the flash of direct perception in the moment—to be the first thing.

That obviously means significant changes in the way the brain works--in other words, a transmutation of the human mind.
Martin LeFevre
Paradise Beach, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia - Bass Strait Rollers coming in

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