Sometimes events conspire to see me write. Each of these short pieces is a contemplation on some aspect or facet of Truth, or the recognition of Truth within consciousness.
Perhaps something here may find merit within your own contemplations?
We care – we care for our own sentience, and for the sentience of ‘others’. Why is there this regard? It is because we understand that suffering is of sentience, and thus we come to regard being with a seriousness that we do not grant to non-being.
The key mistake is to not recognise that the relationship between sentience and suffering is not as we think it to be – this has to be examined.
Sentience is consciousness. If it were not for the general principle, sentience would have no meaning. If we could not attribute consciousness to ourselves, or to ‘others’, their suffering would be of no cause for anxiety. We assume a vacuum cleaner or a car is not conscious – not sentient – and so we say, “Oh, that is just an appliance,” or, “That is just a car. I can get another. It can be fixed next month, when I have the money,” and so on. Yet we find we cannot take this nonchalant approach to that which we ordinarily attribute sentience – because we consider it conscious.
The domain of spirituality is a powerful hint to us that all is not as we believe it to be.
Take a closer look at the relationship between consciousness and suffering. Consciousness is never ‘stained’ by the subjective experience. No matter how severe the suffering, the consciousness that witnesses the suffering remains lucid and clear, always. Even under intoxication, the fundamental principle – the awareness – remains perfectly lucid and crystal clear in ‘knowing’ the dullness of the mind. Moreover, consciousness is for-all-intents-and-purposes, eternal. There is never a time when consciousness is aware that it has ceased.
Now contrast consciousness with suffering. What is suffering? It is the emotion of a mind whose functioning has become increasingly self-referential, increasingly constricted. It is the inevitable result of having automatically and unconsciously acquired the belief that sentience – that which seems to matter – is irrevocably bound up in time and space. It is the belief that the human organism is the proprietor of sentience. Naturally then, the perception of even the slightest threat to the sentience of the organism becomes an anxiety. Sometimes it is a subtle feeling of unease. Other times it is a raging whirlwind of tumult and anguish. Always the central premise of the anxiety will be uncovered as the conflation of consciousness with the organism.
Do you see the problem here? – what is the problem? Is sentience dependent upon the organism? Look patiently and carefully and you will see that it is not.
The irony of suffering is to be found in a close examination of what it is. Suffering is a constriction. It is a gradual paralysis of the normal functioning of mind. It is a mind that through an unintentional error of oversight has become entrained to enshrine an idea – the idea of a sentient self – and moreover that the defining characteristic of self – sentience – is entirely contingent upon circumstances. When in reality, sentience is not even slightly contingent. In becoming anxious, the focus of the mind becomes ever more narrow. At the centre of this increasingly myopic gaze is the false idea of ‘me’. If the suffering is severe enough, the focus becomes so intense that nothing else is apparent – only the little self and the intense angst. This situation is not in the least conducive to seeing clearly, nor to utilising the mind to solve practical challenges. It is, in fact, pathological. This is the true nature of suffering.
Uprooting this problem is not something that can be effectively carried out by continuing to premise action upon the restless and futile anxieties of the mind.
All that is needed, is space. That space which is already available in consciousness when mind has been instructed to ‘let go’ – when mind has been focused upon something which does not precipitate or perpetuate patterns of anxiety. In so doing, the mind can progressively uncoil and begin to function properly again. In resting with our suffering, the relationship between suffering and sentience – and self – is gently exposed for what it really is. Seeing clearly is the undoing of suffering.
Let this be our meditation.
The search for happiness is a search for that subtle recognition which will forever enable mind to rest – to find as home and principle place of work, always the stillness and eternal timeless presence from whence it emerged and into which it will always return.
The mind can become entrained to maintain awareness of the other side of every ‘understanding’ – inherent in every statement and every question is that which was not asserted and not asked.
The prerequisite to the success of this practice is a clear sight of the emptiness of self.
A key feature of my writing on meditation is the inner-artist. All of us has it, though in the guise of the human character that we play, the inner-artist manifests as a myriad of different skills, hobbies, interests and occupations (including many that most would not consider to have any relationship to creativity or art, per se.)
The inner-artist is a pointer (to God), and beyond, to the Absolute, true Self. Why is this?
Surrender is a reccurring theme in many spiritual traditions. In many regards, the ultimate aim of spirituality could be described as (among other things), a surrender to the true nature of Self / Reality – a surrender by Self to Self. If there is any surrendering to be done, there must be the principle of agency (will). But to whom does this will or agency belong?
The insight of self-realization teaches us that ultimately the only real agency is God. (Though the idea may nevertheless be a significant implicit feature of the social landscape, between beings.)
Interestingly, when one first attempts to channel the inner-artist, something peculiar occurs. The faux personal agency is surrendered (inhibited.) Whilst the mind remains alert. In so doing, it is as if the body-mind has invited the Heart to take over. This is the state that occurs when anyone enters 'the flow' or 'the zone' in their pursuits. In this way, the mind-body becomes an instrument of something profound, yet ultimately unspeakable and beyond reach of the mind or language (though it often tries after the fact to make sense of what has occurred.)
Channelling the inner-artist is a pointer to God, because it is a surrender to the will of God. It is the play of divine inspiration, and the effortless breath of life into otherwise dead forms – something of a perpetual resurrection as the illusion of a past is rightfully sacrificed, only for the whole World to be reborn, fresh.
There are few practical instructions that could be as effective. The creative spirit is something that recognises itself within itself, and one of the few principles which cannot be explained or understood by mind. Thus the mind subsides, awaiting the 'answer'.
Ultimately the whole World is a continuous act of spontaneous creation – all of it, within you.
Go there. Rest there. Remain there.
Do you ever experience anything other than your Self?
(– look now and see for your Self. There is nothing apart from your Self. This is the beginning of the end. Suspend all that you think you know. Find now, the unchanging common-denominator from which all perceptions, thoughts and actions arise, and into which they return, being as they are, your perceptions, thoughts and actions – what then is the true nature of your Self?)
You never experience anything other than the Self. You alone are the real:
So then, why do you create a 'shadow' of your Self, within that which you label 'the mind'?
(– and then continually seek judgement upon this shadow-self, and create further an emotional response to the whims and contortions to which this construct implies upon impact with all that by way of definition, it is not, and continually seek to remake this shadow in accordance with a past, and in response to the inevitable conundrums?)
You have taken the unreal to be real, and the real to be unreal.
See that this is so, and your confusion will cease.
Each night just before sleep, the person dies,
At the end of this life, the person dies,
Every moment, the person dies and someone new takes their place –
To what is there to hold on? And who will hold on to it?
Dying only appears difficult,
To the agony of clinging.
To live is to die to the life that appears,
To loose yourself,
To be as This Is – whatever This Is.
Who is there to be Enlightened?
© Copyright 2020 Joshua W. Hawcroft