Monday, March 2, 2015

Intention, Attention, Grace

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



“There are no impediments to meditation. The very thought of such obstacles is the greatest impediment.”
--Ramana Maharshi

This post is written as an extension to Something Happens! It is written to dispel the notion that "proper" self-cultivative conditions—clean meditation space, maintaining a schedule, etc.—must be present for accelerated spiritual growth.

Are “proper” conditions helpful? Sure. But if we're truly being drawn higher, the circumstances of our lives should rarely if ever be a hindrance to fulfilling our basic needs for self-cultivation. After all, we are in the very position we are in specifically because there’s a spiritual lesson there which we must learn.

Are You Able? How Does It Feel?

Sometimes we may read instruction for spiritual practice which tells us to sit on the ground or at the base of a tree in lotus position, or to meditate wearing white, loose-fitting clothes. Maybe we’re told to light incense and open a window to purge the negative energies and spirits from our surroundings. Some suggest we use the same space every day, fill it with sacred objects and pictures of enlightened beings, and be sure not to use that space for eating and sleeping and the like.

Or, it could be that nothing we read tells us do so. Yet we may still create the belief that these things are necessary because “it’s what the yogis do,” or “it’s what’s in all the pictures and drawings.”

My wisdom regarding such instruction is as follows:

If you can do it and it feels right, do it; if you can’t or it doesn't, don’t.

There’s no reason why we need to get bent out of shape that, I’m not doing it the “proper” way, or, Nothing's happening because I'm not doing it the “proper” way.

I don’t doubt that the energy surrounding us and, particularly, how readily it can flow within/through us plays a role in the effectiveness of our practices. But again:

If you can do it and it feels right, do it. If you can’t or it doesn't, don’t.

If we hardly even bother with trying to find the space between our thoughts because “life is too hectic and noisy here in the city,” well, the only direction we’re going is backwards. Maybe sideways.

It should go without saying, yet a reminder may be useful:

The path of self-cultivation is about removing the stories, not about making new ones.

Of our example above: If the city is too disruptive, our hearts will be broken when we find out that our move into the country isn't much better. The disruption we seek escape from is of the mind—it’s internal. Only when we modify the internal, does the external truly change.

The External Hologram of the Internal Condition

I’ve been on the Path for about six years now (beginning sometime during the Spring/Summer of 2009). If I'd always have waited for the "proper" conditions, I'd have fallen back to "sleep" long ago.

In terms of sitting meditation, 99.8% of it is done in the attic of my house located about 40 feet from a moderately trafficked road. The attic is 20 feet above ground-level—30 feet if we consider the basement. Usually, I’m sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor wearing clothes made from darker-colored, synthetic materials. For my first year or more of meditation, I sat on a drum stool (so even nearer the sky!) which was machine made and also of artificial materials.

On 12-12-12, during the meditation which I experienced my partial kundalini awakening, I was sitting on the end of a beat up office chair, with moderately-sized synthetic material stereo headphones on, wearing artificial fabric clothing, three feet away from a computer screen.

One of the first times I’d recognized that a new awareness was being realized within me, I was driving on a busy six-lane road. As I crested the top of a hill, the tree-sided mountains several miles ahead of me came into view with a grandeur impossible to truly describe. The mountains and trees had a vibrant depth and wholeness to them. They were, quite literally, luminous. The mountains had also felt as though they were within arm’s reach, as though they were actually in the foreground of the apparent foreground of the buildings, cars, and roads which surrounded me.

Yet I’ve Never Sat With a Guru In India… Or In the US!

How could such experiences have come to pass? If I don’t meditate while wearing white, loose-fitting, natural clothes? If the negative energies and entities in the physical and non-physical space around me have not been purged? If I’ve never sat on a rock somewhere out in the wilderness or in a cave in lotus position while chanting “OM”? If I meditate somewhat erratically and can't set myself on doing one practice solidly because there are so many I want to try—all right now?

Because there are 3 items which mean more than any of that stuff, however worthwhile it may be. They are:
  1. Intention
  2. Attention
  3. Grace
We must first set our intention on what we desire—advancement, realization, awakening, remembering—whatever we like to call it.

Secondly, we must focus our attention on it every single day. We have to give it our best as far as our life circumstances and willpower allow for.

If we can’t do certain practices “properly” because we have noisy siblings or we’re away on a business trip or something, we do what we can as we can how we can. We don’t make a stink about it. If we really mean it, we’ll either find a way or we’ll one-up our have-to-do-it-like-this ego by joyfully accepting what is in the fact that we can’t do it “properly.”

Similarly, if we’re weak willed in regard to something, we need not lose sleep over “failing.” As the saying goes, “Progress, not perfection.” We’re better off accepting the fact that we’re weak willed than that we “should” have done better. If something truly should have happened, it would have happened.

Finally, let's allow God to do whatever God does whenever and however God chooses to do it. Whether karma, personal expectation, false belief, unpreparedness, or who knows what, we don’t always get what our egos think we deserve. But we do get just what we need when we are ready for it, often in ways we could never expect. We have to trust that God knows what God is doing.

When the time is ripe we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our practices, as "improper" as they may ever seem, have been worth the effort. We'll see that something's been going on all along, even if it's been unknown to us. As long as we're doing those things which will advance us ever onward and upward toward the Light, something can’t not happen; we can’t not be drawing ever closer to the “wholiness” that is the ever-present, experiential Grace of God.

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Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 1/21/13 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

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