What about Practices?
What about spiritual practices, such as meditation, or yoga practices? Even if, according to non-dual philosophy (or the Three Principles Psychology – 3P), “I” don’t really exist as a body or mind, nor does the world absolutely (and in 3P, a seeing beyond, an understanding such as to transcend Thought is all that’s needed), aren’t practices useful? Even though the basic non-dual conundrum or paradox is that there’s nothing one can do to be the True Self or Universal Consciousness (it’s just a fact of existence), should we, or don’t we have to do something, even if it’s just asking questions like “Who Am I” or “What to Do?”?
This question is what I journaled about this morning …
The answer is yes. The neo-Avaita or non-dual talk of “It’s all just happening, there’s nothing to do”, blah blah blah, is fine, if you are truly and absolutely and always in (experiencing) happiness, peace, bliss love, etc… you can pass the rest of the game board squares and go directly to “Go” (or “Mu” if you are a Zen Buddhist)…But if the supposed 3P understanding or “feeling” they talk about doesn’t seem to be coming, or your life isn’t transformed in a flash of insight, or blissfully happy all the time, then read on.
Even though I don’t do any formal spiritual or yogic practices myself, such as a certain time of day doing X, where X is a type of meditation or investigation or postures or whatever… they do have a critically important value in our “evolution”.
Just because there’s the paradox that you do practices or enquiry only to find out there’s no one doing anything and nothing happening in reality, and reality is not what you assume it to be … you still want to do something. Especially if there’s any degree of unhappiness, confusion, lack of peace or lack of whatever (seemingly) as a person, or any time.
And, you need to still take care of the “action figure” of the apparent bodymind, and that includes the health of the body and mind. Just don’t overdo it: render unto Caesar what is due to Caesar, and no more…
For myself, there are not many minutes in a day when out of (seemingly) deliberate action – or out of old habit, long-time “discipline” (true discipline is innate, like the focus of a rapt child) of self re-orientation – I am asking or doing at some level, at least one of the following:
what am I here for
what is this experience
what is my body doing
what is my mind doing
what would be the happiest thing to do / what do I want to do / what is my enthusiasm / what do I love
Bringing the attention back to the present (instead of lost in the thought stream / imagining, planning, thinking, fantasizing, etc.)
How can I simply Be Present Now? How could one possibly be out of a moment? This is not really possible. Paradoxically, this brings me back.
… and reminding myself that this is in reality an experience of:
Universal consciousness or Intelligence – there’s no real borderline or ending line within, no possible separate center of consciousness (I’ve already seen that, so let’s live it), no “others” in reality, and we live in a mutual projection of mind. Reality is not the concrete material given we assume it to be. The nature of it is mysterious, intelligent, benign; impersonal Peace Love and Beauty are just waiting to peak out from the corner, if you can allow, have eyes to see… Sparks of the infinite.
Consciousness doesn’t appear in bodies; bodies appear in Consciousness.
Or simply looking in wonder at what is now: birds singing, beautiful trees, the sky, clouds, people doing their human things…
This may all sound like a lot of doing or thinking, but it’s only because I’m putting into words a way of living, or a “leaning” as a friend put it. One leans toward what Is and away from what is Not.
Whether you call this an “investigation” or a “practice” or a “way of life” doesn’t matter. The important thing is to do *something*, not because you should but because you see the importance, are curious, and/or you are driven by a discomfort, or perhaps some level of suffering, or not-peace, or sense of wanting, or are simply celebrating Life.
So here’s a little hierarchy (the mind loves lists, levels, putting things in order):
What Drives Practices (from lowest drives to highest):
0. Everyone else is doing it; bragging rights; keeping up with the Joneses; self-image (ego)
1. Suffering; Unhappiness; I’m Screwed Up; I have problems
2. It’s existentially important and you should; it’s the right thing to do in life
3. Curiosity, Interest, Enthusiasm
These could all happen in the course of a day, or on many days, or over years and decades.
Our path is like the fractal curve of the slope of a mountain, with ups and down but over time, but generally upward: greater peace, happiness, love…
If it’s not upward, then you definitely need to practice something!
I don’t believe in forcing anything. It won’t bring you closer to the Effortless Way. And that understanding and genuine interest has to be the root of anything you do.
Without understanding of what the goal is and why and how it helps you, it’s a blind practice. There is no point in doing blind practices, especially in a militant way, hoping they will lead somewhere somehow if you’re “good” and practice hard enough and long enough (though at least they could keep you out of trouble while you’re chewing on that spiritual bone!).
At minimum, call it “prayer” because you want to see the magic in life and not just chase a future good or goods, doing things because you think you “have to”, like a puppet or slave or pawn. Who, or what, are you serving? What do you want? What do you really believe will make you happy? You can either chase that, or chase the wanting down to its origin within; it doesn’t matter, as long as you wake up to what’s actually going on and not kid yourself, like most are doing. Most human beings live either fooling themselves that they are “happy”, or that X will bring them happiness, or that life is just hard and that’s the way it is, and you have do X to survive and that’s all there is to life, or just about all to life, anything else relegated to special moments that are just blips in normality, in “real life”.
For most, if considered at all, and not equated with religion (beliefs), or nonsense (such as “New Age” stuff – which I agree is nonsense and a mush of beliefs and pseudoscience mixed up into a quasi-religion), spirituality is seen as separate or special thing, a part of life done on the weekends or at night, after work, or for a few moments in the morning. The truth is there’s nothing in reality called spirituality, and if there is, it’s all of life, or nothing. It has to be, or it would be just another mind content, a topic, a subject, a human-made blip on the screen.
But you have an opportunity to pop your head up above normal life, take a look at “real life”, reality, the real world, and ask what what it is, who and what you really are, and if what you are striving for has any real value. Or is what you practice, devote yourself to, give your life’s energies to, really nonsense, or following the crowd. Do it now while you are still in a body. If not now, when?
Does happiness, love, peace, really come out of people, places, things? If so, then why can’t you hold on to them? Will the future really deliver happiness? Does the future exist? What are you absolutely certain of?
The point, or the result, is in large part to uproot self-centeredness.
No-duality or Advaita means: “not two”. It means you can only know what you are from seeing what you are not.
The truth is, you can’t know what you are from what you are not: the finite cannot know the infinite; but you can find out what you are not (this body, this mind, these assumptions, these crazy habits…) and is seeing all that, know you are not that. What is doing the seeing? You cannot see what is doing the seeing: you *are* the seeing. You *are* the seeing, the freedom, the knowing, the Being, the bliss … *if* you can let go, not hold, release, drop (however we want to say it) the rest…