A Mystic's Journal by Laurie Conrad.
Consciousness vs Thought: Meditation Class: A Mysticís Journal Entry: April 22, 2007
Sunday, April 22
Last Wednesday night, in meditation class, we continued our study of Paul Bruntonís volume The Ego (The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume Six; Larson Publications).
A new student named Angela joined class this week and I asked her to read the first quote. She read: That Consciousness which men seek so variously in ecstacy or despair is already there but covered up, suffocated by their own little self-consciousness. Day and night they stay only in the narrow, the personal, be it again in ecstacy or despair. They run to others, to gurus or gods, begging to be liberated. But in the end they have to liberate themselves.
This quote from Brunton took up most of class, and I will attempt to outline our discussion here.
That Consciousness I asked the class what Brunton was referring to, this Consciousness. J. said it was the soul; Chris said it was the Higher, the Divine coming through the soul or becoming the soul. In the end, we agreed that here Brunton was referring to Mind, the Divine Mind that is beyond our individual minds and the Source of all that we perceive or think.
That Consciousness which men seek so variously in ecstacy or despair This statement would be surprising to those who did not fully understand the nature of the ego, that we could be seeking a Higher Consciousness, or God even within our despair. But looked at from another vantage point, we agreed that despair itself is the result of a lack of conscious connection with the Divine, with God. In our despair, we are despairing of our loss of conscious connection with our own soul, with God. The ego, i.e. our thoughts and emotions, our normal and conventional perceptions - are blocking our inner vision; i.e. is already there but covered up, suffocated by their own little self-consciousness. We agreed that their own little self-consciousness referred to the personal ego, i.e. all our personal thoughts and perceptions.
is already there. This short phrase contains the secret of the Sages and saints of all religions. It is the Teaching: I am That, a Short Path practice where we identify with the soul - instead of identifying with the physical body and physical brain and the perceptions and thoughts they produce. In this practice, or exercise, we can also image ourselves as the self-effulgent and radiant Light of the soul, knowing that this radiant Light is our true Self. This exercise or practice can break us out of our despair, for despair is only thoughts and emotions, the result of our perceptions of conventional, material reality. For the Short Path to truly help us on the spiritual Path, this practice must be a way of life and a deep belief, not just an occasional exercise. Brunton is also careful to say, in other quotes, that the Short Path alone is not enough - it must be Balanced by the Long Path. We have discussed these two paths in other classes, so I will not repeat that information here.
Day and night they stay only in the narrow, the personal. Brunton here says Day and night for a reason; he chooses all his words with extreme care. Day and night implies that we are continually in our own thoughts; Brunton might also be saying this is so even while in dream state. We agreed that the narrow, the personal meant the personal thoughts and emotions, i.e. the personal ego. And that this personal also refers to our personal history while here on earth, that our thoughts and emotions generally revolve around our own lives on earth - instead of dwelling on God and the eternal soul. In other words, we generally limit ourselves to the narrowness of our physical existence in the body. J. said we were self-absorbed; T. said we shrank our own world by putting our attention on the ego rather than the soul. We agreed that this narrow and personal could also refer to putting our attention on the lower emotions, the personal emotions, rather than on the Higher Emotions, the higher octaves of the personal emotions. I suggested that the new meditators read Bruntonís volume of the Notebooks, Emotions and Ethics. The section of this volume on the emotions devotes many fine and illuminating pages to the discussion and comparison between the personal emotions and their higher octave, the Higher Emotions.
They run to others, to gurus or gods, begging to be liberated. But in the end they have to liberate themselves. We found these last two sentences to be easily understood: only we ourselves can liberate ourselves from the tyranny of the ego. Through our spiritual practices, whether Long Path or Short Path; by understanding the nature of the ego itself. As many have told us throughout history, including Christ Himself: Heaven is within us.