It's the beginning of a new month - the signs of Spring are beginning to manifest everywhere and with this new life comes an enthusiastic view on renewing my passion for personal transformation.
It's been said many times in many different ways -There is no path to enlightenment because enlightenment is nothing more than realizing that this is all there is. Yet, still there is a proliferation of teachers with methods that an individual can adopt in order to attain something that appears to be missing from our consciousness. What is actually missing is the awareness that there simply is nothing that can be added. In fact, the very act of seeking enlightenment is what prevents the realization of it!
This is potentially a hopeless situation - and many Advaita "non-teachers" will admit this and leave you feeling very despondent. The hope of fulfillment that is promised through seeking truth descends quickly into a kind of neurosis that has no cure.
In my personal story I am irrepressibly drawn to read the words and study the methods of these "teachers" in hopes that I will somehow find a way to experience what they claim to have experienced and achieve the wholeness that I sense is missing in my core. I have glimpsed the non-dual reality that they describe - but it quickly fades and the individual that I believe I am returns in full force.
THE DISCIPLINED NON-APPROACH
However, having experienced a glimpse of unicity, with a lingering resolve to return to it, I do not want to give up the fight. Instead I choose to live out the story of my life by continuing to follow a disciplined approach to becoming enlightened - knowing full well that there is no destination or goal other than the appearance of progression.
So I will apparently choose to meditate - not to attain anything, or with the purpose of gaining anything new or achieving a higher state of consciousness. For that will happen naturally, regardless of any path or belief system if I let go of the very idea of progressive realization.
A few years ago I took up the practice of Transcendental Meditation. I had wanted to learn the technique for a long time, but I did not have the financial means to afford it, and/or the various belief systems that I've held onto over the years precluded me from the practice. But these days I'm comfortable with TM as a means of satisfying my "sweet tooth" for seeking without all the baggage that often goes along with it. TM is LIKE spirituality - but is not overtly religious in that there is no compulsion to sign-on as a member of the organization behind it. There are no promises of heaven beyond an improved outlook on life, nor threats of eternal damnation for not practicing.
This past few days I've been re-reading Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's introductory book to TM that he originally wrote in the very early '60's "Science of Being and Art of Living." It's actually quite profound on the subject of Advaita Vedanta and was actually ahead of its time given the spiritual climate in the West in the early '60's - this book, and the Maharishi's personal impact on the Beatles and media in the mid to late 60's may have seriously contributed to the consciousness revolution that occurred at that time. My early days of spiritual seeking involved the reading of an earlier edition of this book - and at the time I didn't realize its profundity and took a more conservative approach to self-realization, through various religions and generally more traditional spirituality.
Although I don't subscribe to a lot of what I'd call "superfluous paraphernalia" that is supplemental to practicing TM - I see a lot of value in the practice as a means of stilling the mind. Stilling the mind - to me is the foundational principle behind all spiritual practice - all who have experienced transcendence - even the hardest line Advaita and Neo-Advaita "philosophers" have practiced meditation at some point in their "apparent" journey to liberation.
The principle behind TM is solid - here's a few quotes from Maharishi that illustrate the pointing to that which I'd call Non-Dual awakening:
"Underneath the subtlest layer of all that exists in the relative field is the abstract, absolute field of pure Being which is unmanifested and transcendental. It is neither matter nor energy. It is pure Being, the state of existence."
- "Science of Being and Art of Living," Pg. 5
"The unity of Beingness, without undergoing any change in Itself, assumes the role of the multiplicity of creation, the diversity of Being. The absolute assuming the role of relativity, or unity appearing as multiplicity, is nothing else but the very nature of absolute Being appearing in different manifestations. That is why, while the absolute is eternal in Its never-changing status, the relative diversity of creation is eternal in its ever-changing nature."
- Ibid, Pg. 18
The physical and mental benefits of TM have been well-documented, so there is no need to mention them here. However, from a personal level the biggest benefit, to me, of the practice of TM is that is helps to transcend thought and experience the pure nature of absolute Being. All of my fears, doubts and mental barriers to self-understanding are rooted in my thinking, which is at the mercy of my emotions. Through TM I believe I can separate my thinking and my emotions and learn to express my life from the level of pure unchanging Being. A place where I do not exist in limited form.
I confess that I have glimpses of true non-dual existence - but they fade quickly into an overwhelming sense of individual suffering where I am confronted with my resistant ego that always seems to want its own way and deny that things are as they are. This is the dualistic barrier that I hope to overcome through the regular practice of TM.
So, beginning again, so to speak, in a new month; a new spring - I will seek nothing but the enjoyment of practicing TM. Knowing that it will not change reality, but simply practicing that it may somehow re-open the door to a reality that I've already seen, and keep me awake in the love and grace that it reveals that I may take it with me everywhere.