Monday, July 14, 2014

The critical nature of genuine self awakening.

When contemplating the myriad problems of today’s world you might come up with a list such as the following:
  • The Middle East debacle
  • Unchecked global climate change (warming)
  • A growing gap between the super-wealthy and everyone else
  • Spreading violence
  • Hatred and intolerance
  • Political gridlock
  • Toxic pollution of the environment
  • Loss of genuine liberties
  • (add your own)

While all of these are problems of enormous concern, there is a core root that underlies and drives them all: a misidentification of who we are individually and collectively. So long as our answer of identity boils down to a vacillating self-image (ego) the natural result is fear, greed, possessiveness, selfishness, isolation, irresponsibility, despair and a victim mentality that leaves us all heading for a cave of seeming security. 

Recently Avram Noam Chomsky observed that, “As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism, or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.” While a grim statement that shocks us into states of denial and disbelief, his observations are true.

The question is, what must we all do in order to escape from this inevitable outcome? The answer is NOT the ostrich method of avoidance, denial and ignorance. On the contrary what we must all do is transform our self-understanding, from an isolated individual to a connected member of the human race, which was (and remains) the solution to suffering offered by The Buddha more than 2,500 years ago. The solution does not change because the nature of being human does not change. At the central core of us all is an indefinable state of unconditional consciousness that is the same for everyone. The problem is that while this state is the source of all aspects of awareness, in itself is not detectable and we are all prone to consider “real” only things that can be detected. This is a case of the eye not being aware of the eye. However, in this case it is the inner eye (URNA) instead of the detectible eye, and as the father of Zen wrote, it is in this state of mind that all discrimination ceases to exist. Out of this indiscriminate state arises sentient discrimination that leads us to the mistaken notion that each of is a dependent ego at odds with every other human, vacillating and contingent on an uncertain world and that ego idea then produces the undesirable qualities listed above.

Within the past several years a form of meditation (MBSR) has become prominent in helping many to cease attachment to waves of thinking, many of which are destructive to self and others. While very helpful, it only one of two dimensions outlined by The Buddha in his Eightfold Path. MBSR rests upon one of these two: right mindfulness (samyak-smṛti/sammā-sati) and is the essential path to genuine awakening of our true, indiscriminate nature (who we truly are). The other dimension of mind (right concentration (samyak-samādhi/sammā-samādhi) is not widely known, but by any other name is Zen/Dhyāna, with a history going back into unrecorded time long before The Buddha. The two dimensions were intended to be practiced as a combined pair but in today’s world they have been split. MBSR has become quite useful in stilling the mind and helping practitioners to stay present instead of lost in speculation. However, the issue of identity remains an esoteric and speculative matter leaving those who practice MBSR only, still holding fast to a perceptible and insecure self understanding. Importantly it is Zen that produces the desired result of a sense of SELF that is unconditional, whole, perfect and unshaken. This quality alone delivers the awareness that we are all unified, none better; none diminished in any way. 

As awful as the laundry list of contemporary problems may be, those and unknown others will thrive and flourish unless we can experience this state of indiscriminate, undiscovered unity, inherent in us all. 

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