Although most of us have little direct experience of it, it is part & parcel of sentient consciousness that we all have a vast ocean of silence, clarity and peace lying deep inside of us. Put another way, when you take our consciousness and strip away all the words, emotions, thoughts, dreams, beliefs and feelings, there is something that remains in the absence of all those things. It is the space between the thoughts or the field lying beneath the thoughts. It is eternal. It was here before we were born. It’ll be here after we’re gone. It is what we all share in common. It is where we are all one.
People have the misconception that in meditation, you seek to clear your mind, but if your mind was truly clear, you’d be asleep or in a coma. In a successful meditation, you are very much aware, but your awareness is very broad and silent. Meditation is good at helping people to cope with stress because it is like taking a few steps back and thus putting things into perspective.
Anyone owning a car would be considered foolish if they didn’t keep the engine tuned up and keep the oil changed. Meanwhile, we all have a machine much more complicated than an internal combustion engine sitting on top of our shoulders. What could make more sense than taking a little time every day to make sure that it’s running smoothly.
It is widely accepted that when learning a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument, it is better to practice for 30 minutes every day rather than 3 1/2 hours once a week – even though the overall length of time is the same. Likewise, an important aspect of a meditation practice is regularity and consistency. You want to meditate every day, day in and day out, for this is how you bring greater silence, peace and clarity into your everyday state of consciousness. It is a matter of systematically grooming and conditioning your consciousness.
To make the point, I’ll apply some arbitrary numbers to something that is clearly unquantifiable. Let’s just say you’ve started your twice daily meditation practice. You’ve meditated for the first time. You achieved a degree of stillness, but then you go out into your daily activity and the stillness dissipates. That evening you sit to have your second meditation, but what you don’t realize is that there is .0000001 percent of the stillness from the morning’s meditation still present in you. So, you have your second meditation, you finish your evening, you go to bed and then wake up in the morning to have your third meditation, but what you don’t realize is that there is still .0000002 percent of the stillness from the previous meditation present inside of you. And so it goes, day after day, you build up more and more silence, clarity, peace and stillness. This is how you transform your consciousness.
It is an innate problem with our species that human beings in general and I should say, politicians & corporate executives in particular have the most amazing capacity for talking themselves into sincerely believing absolutely ridiculous shit when doing so happens to be convenient. This is how politicians and corporate executives can look at themselves in the mirror, genuinely believe that their behavior is acceptable and then go about their day doing a grotesque disservice to future generations. It is a celebrated truism of the annoyingly named “New Age Spirituality Movement” that HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS MUST CHANGE for world peace and environmental sanity to prevail. But this idea isn’t discussed in the mainstream discourse because it is viewed as being vague & abstract – better discussed by philosophers or psychologists. But there is NOTHING vague or abstract about the ignorance, denial, delusion and in some cases I should say, psychopathic behavior exhibited by those with their hands on the levers of power in the world.
I submit here that the degree to which a human being is fully saturated in that silence, clarity and peace which lies at the root of sentient human consciousness is the degree to which that human being is incapable of exhibiting the self deception, denial and delusion that is central to so many of humankind’s problems. Furthermore, the degree to which a person is fully saturated in that silence, clarity and peace is the degree to which they are happy and predisposed to loving and being of service to their fellow human beings. Indeed, it is full saturation in that field of silence, clarity and peace which has accounted for the unbounded, unconditional love exhibited by history’s great spiritual figures.
If we want to be happy. If we want to create a better world, I would argue that the single most important thing we can be doing is the systematic, daily development of our consciousness to contain ever greater levels of the silence, clarity and peace that is the very basis of sentient human consciousness.
A footnote on drugs:
Both of my parents were alcoholics – my father rather violently so. At age 17 I was smoking pot and drinking alcohol daily – fully poised to make a complete train wreck out of my life. But I had a couple of drug experiences that caused me to become fascinated with human consciousness. Transcendental Meditation was extremely popular at the time so I learned it. Against all odds, at 17 years of age, I kept meditating twice a day every day. Over the following three years all the smoking and drinking just fell away effortlessly. Now having been meditation for over 45 years, on the rare occasion that I smoke cannabis, I am aghast at what a sloppy muddle it turns my consciousness into. It’s interesting. I’ll give it that. A lot could be said of mind-altering substances and the roles they should be playing in our lives. But if a person is smoking or drinking on a daily basis because, truth be told, they don’t like the state of consciousness known as “being straight”, my direct, personal experience is that there are much more elegant, sophisticated ways to address the problem than to induce a milky, foggy haze day in and day out.