Mind vs. Silent Presence

In meditation, there will frequently appear to be a battle between the chattering mind and silent presence. It often seems the distractions of the mind soon have you chasing a thought down a rabbit hole until you are hopelessly lost in thinking. Eventually, presence brings you back to silence and you sit there with a feeling of failing at meditation.

The problem is, you still identify yourself as the mind. You see the noisy mind as who you are and the silent presence as something you need to achieve in meditation. A breakthrough comes when there is a shift in your experience and you realize it is the silent presence which you are and it is the mind which is merely a fly buzzing around your experience. The mind can never take you away from silent presence because you are always that. You never have to achieve anything. When thoughts come, you choose not to identify with or resist them. You abide in the presence you are and allow the mind to do its dance. Like a fireworks display, you watch the thoughts arise, explode, and diminish into nothingness. You are the witness to the beginning and the end of all thoughts. This is true meditation.

There Are No Choices. There Is Only Doing.

Choices

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The duality of the mind imagines that there are choices to be made between two or more options. Since the mind likes to believe it is always the one in control, it will tell us we can choose this or that or go here or there. But is this really what is happening in our experience?

We usually think of our lives as if they are a linear-existing, fully-scripted, “Life-Movie,” complete with props, sets, and characters already in place, waiting for us to act out the consequences of every single choice we make. We see life as already having a planned beginning and end and we must make vital choices to maneuver our way through it. However, life is not this way, nor is it like a “choose your own adventure” comic book. Life constantly unfolds in the present moment, it does not follow a predetermined plot. Even when there are the appearances of choices to be made in life, the reality is, there are no choices. There is only doing.

I know, I know, I can hear you now. “What the heck does that even mean? I make choices all day long, every single day!” OK, so let’s imagine a few scenarios. First, think of yourself as an old-time traveler on a horse, riding along a dirt trail. You come to a fork in the road. “Do I choose right or left?” you think to yourself. You imagine one choice may involve a longer, more difficult path to navigate. Perhaps one path involves a potential encounter with thieves. One choice may bring you to a town where you can rest or sell your wares. What’s a traveler to do?

Honestly, you could sit at the fork for days listening to your mind tell you about “this or that” choices. Because of the way the human mind works, you will be convinced that each side of the fork contains its own fully scripted Life-Movie with you as the main character. Depending upon the choice you make, you will either act out this scene or that scene. The choice to make, your mind will tell you, is in which scene will be the best for you to act out?

The reality is, your mind has created an illusion and is trying to convince you to believe this illusion is real. There is no Life-Movie and there are no Life-Movie scenes already set up, waiting for you to enter. There is only life unfolding now. When we begin entertaining ideas such as choice, purpose, and destiny, we assume life is an already constructed map, complete with preferred choices already planned and laid out for us. We think of ourselves as needing to align ourselves with those predestined choices and paths in order for everything in life to go perfectly.

Another scenario. Imagine you must decide if you are going to marry Terry or Alex. You can imagine what life would be like with either of them. Would you have kids? How would the relationship with your in-laws be? Where would you live? What would your financial situation be like? Your mind can (and will) design complete scenarios of life with either partner. It would be tempting to believe either choice comes with its own scripted Life-Movie plot, waiting for you to jump into as a character. But does that Life-Movie exist? It does not. It may appear Alex has more money and life will go a certain way as a result, but Alex could lose it all. Maybe Terry wants several kids as you do, but perhaps you both later discover physical issues prevent that. All of the reasons for making a choice between Terry and Alex are just as illusionary as the actual “choice” of who you will marry. The truth is, you simply marry Alex. That is what you do and, therefore, it is all that is or can be done. There are no alternative paths on a predestined life map to go unfulfilled. You married Alex because that is what happened. The “choice” was only an illusion. Yes, you may divorce Alex and marry Terry, but you can never examine an actual scenario where you marry Terry first because that didn’t happen. Speculation would just be imagination and fantasy. Any idea that it “could” have happened is only based upon the idea of the “Life-Movie.”

Let’s consider one more scenario. You are at a coffee shop and you are asked if you would like coffee or tea. You say “coffee.” Could you have requested “tea”? No, you can only order coffee because that is what you ordered and there is not an alternative existence where you order tea. To order coffee makes it impossible that you “could” have ordered tea because you didn’t. What is real is only what exists, not what you imagine exists. “Could” only exists in the mind. What “is” exists in reality. In this case, coffee is reality and tea is mind. There are no choices. There is only doing. While it may appear we are making a choice between two things, the reality is, we are simply doing a single thing. The appearance of “choosing” is only mind-stuff based upon more imaginary mind-stuff. We may believe we choose coffee because we prefer the taste but perhaps the coffee is spoiled and the mind-stuff would then prove to be a lie. Reality is, we order coffee and that is our only option because it happened. It unfolded in the now with the rest of our life experience, none of which we chose.

As long as we live as human beings, we will be confronted with the illusion we are making choices. It is a part of the human condition and it cannot be avoided. On the spiritual path, we play along with appearances while remaining aware that all of our life is simply doing and it is that doing that unfolds from our highest awareness of what is right. We do not constantly make choices to not steal or not kill. At times it may appear to be so. Perhaps a voice in our head says to take something that does not belong to us or to harm another. But that is never a choice for us. We only do what we know to be right. As our awareness becomes more transparent, our doing incorporates less thought and mind activity, and our doing results in a greater harmony than any choice could have arranged for us, or any mind could understand or have imagined.

Flash Meditation

Flash Meditation

Image by Shahariar Lenin from Pixabay

 

In the midst of the whirlwind of daily life, it is easy to forget that the essence of who you are is peace. That may seem laughable at times, but it is in those times especially, we should pause to discover and contact our true self, the calm beacon of light that silently never blinks in the middle of life’s storms.

Even when we are not aware of it, peace is present in the background of all of our experiences. It never goes away because it is who we are. All we need to do to experience it is to turn within in silence and be aware of our being. This is the true purpose of meditation. Meditation is not simply a technique for relaxation, but rather a connection to the presence you are. In meditation, you feel relaxed because you have connected with your peaceful nature, a nature that is beyond thoughts, beyond words, beyond the mind.

Our lives have become conditioned to being controlled by our minds. Most of us live with continual mental noise, a non-stop loop of mind stuff that distracts us from our true nature like clouds distract us from the clear blue sky. To live this way is really a form of madness. Fortunately, we have the power to slow this mental controlling down, if not bring a complete end to it.

Make it a regular practice in your life to pause at several moments during the day just to feel the presence and peace of your being. Don’t make it a mental practice. Pause, and actually feel this vibrating presence. These pauses do not have to last longer than one or two seconds. You can end it quickly before the mind even has a chance to get involved. To pause for ten seconds is wonderful! You can quickly make these flash meditations a habit. One second of peace before an important call. A brief moment of connection before you pick up the kids. A couple of seconds experiencing present peace before dinner. You will soon discover you are finding more and more opportunities to connect with the peace you are and these moments will become an increasingly sacred and transforming practice in your daily life.

That’s Just Your Opinion, Man

Opinions

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Surprise, it’s okay to not have an opinion about something! In fact, it’s completely acceptable to dump all opinions you currently hold about… well, everything!

I realize that isn’t a very popular opinion. (See what I did there?) We live at a time and in a society that values its opinions about everything from political parties, social movements, restaurant service, video content, social media posts, music quality, advertisement effectiveness, and on and on and on. Almost everything we run across includes a “Like” button, a review space, or a feedback feature and we’re continually pressured to decide what we think and to tell everyone. You’ll even find Like and Share buttons at the end of this article. (You don’t have to use them, you know…)

The essential Being which you are never holds opinions. You are not your mind. That which you essentially are does not, and even cannot, hold mental positions about anything. Clutching opinions forces you to live in a world of abstractions. It prevents you from really knowing the things or experiences you hold opinions about as they truly are.

Opinions keep us mentally locked into a conceptual past rather than consciously residing in presence. They are often based on former experiences or conditionings which prevent us from seeing the reality of what is being experienced now. They don’t allow for the truth that all things change, move, and transform. An opinion is simply a cartoon version of reality.

To not hold on to opinions doesn’t suggest we do not humanly have preferences. We can still enjoy the immediate experience of cardamom ice cream or Cardi B or House of Cards without needing to form an identity around that enjoyment. We do not need to make the dislike of Polka music into part of a personal story of who we are. Enjoy an experience in the present, agree with a religious perspective now, or dislike the food flavor you are currently experiencing, then let it go.

This is not an opinion: to remove opinions from your life is to move closer to the awareness of who you really are.