Our First and Last Mistake: Meditation Class: A Mystic’s Journal Entry, August 12, 2010
Image: A fisherman and his dog, taken from our dock at Windgarth.
I agree with the great Indian Sage Ramana Maharshi: our first and last mistake is thinking that we are the physical body and our personality, i.e. our thoughts and emotions. In philosophic terms, even the physical body is a part of the ego’s perceptions, and is considered “ego”. And until we understand the ego and its workings - we will get trapped in our smaller selves, forget that we are the Radiant soul.
And in that forgetting is the source of all our various, divers and myriad problems and sufferings.
In Meditation class this past week we discussed various states of achievement on the spiritual, mystical Path.
Of all the mystical states, the most desirable is when our connection with God and the soul becomes unceasing, abiding.
On the spiritual Path, they say that to finally realize that the physical world that surrounds us is Divine Light - rather than material atoms - to see through physical reality, is easier than Knowing that we are the soul. The experience of Knowing that we are the soul is considered in some philosophies the highest achievement on the spiritual Path, even higher than mystical Union. Ironically, that which is closest to us and our True Nature, our True Self - seems furthest from us.
Christ told us that Heaven is within us. Whether we meditate or not, we all must learn to clear our minds of all thoughts and put our attention on God and the Soul.
In class we discussed thoughts that arise during meditation: the goal of meditation is not a blank mind with no thoughts - that is a useless exercise. During meditation we are trying to put our full attention on God and the soul, not on a blank mind. In the high mystical experiences and in contemplation - thoughts disappear of their own accord, are replaced by something else, by the soul itself. Thoughts that arise during meditation can also be useful to us, for in our lives we will have thoughts and we must learn to keep our attention on God and the soul even as we act and think and speak. In our meditations we are trying to train ourselves to keep our attention on God and the soul to the exclusion of all else save our short prayer or mantra - but also as unbidden thoughts and images arise. In our meditations we are both training the mind to be one-pointed and to keep our attention on God and the soul. As a result of these efforts, there comes a time when we can never be wrenched away from this connection with God and the soul, no matter what else is going on in our lives, no matter what else we are doing or saying or experiencing. And this is the true Goal.
We also briefly discussed never-ceasing prayer in class. The exercise here is to repeat one prayer throughout the day. Generally we use a short phrase for this exercise, but it can be a full prayer that we repeat throughout the day. In time, the Heart itself repeats the prayer on its own, much like musicians will inwardly hear a piece continue even when their attention is elsewhere. This is called unceasing prayer, when the spiritual Heart Itself continues the prayer on its own, without our conscious help.
In the end, it is always a matter of where we put our attention, where we put our thoughts and yearnings .... On God and the soul - or on the world. We cannot have both, and we must decide.
One student asked me to explain the Dark Night of the Senses and the Dark Night of the Soul. Since I have spoken of these in past A Mystic Journal entries, I will only briefly describe them here. It is generally agreed that there are three stages of the Interior Life, and that a Dark Night separates them. You could say the two Dark Nights are rites of Passage to the next and higher stages of the Interior Life. They are times of suffering, sometimes terrible suffering - and only our Faith and spiritual efforts can get us through them to the other side. The first Dark Night precedes the Illuminative Stage of Saint Teresa of Avila’s schema of the Interior Life. The second Dark Night precedes Mystical Union, the third and highest stage of the Interior Life. The two Dark Nights on the spiritual Path are times of decision. We are asked to decide whether we will put God and the soul first in our lives - or the material world and our own personal desires.
The simple exercise “I am the soul”, repeated throughout the day, can be enough to bring us through the Dark Nights, and is the exercise I usually give people. Close your eyes, clear your mind, even if only for a few moments - and image yourself as Divine radiant Light, as the soul.
Our Lady, the Madonna, in Her messages to us from Medjugorje tells us to make God central to our lives. And in this simple request She means to put our attention on God, on the spiritual. This is a form of the never-ceasing prayer that the saints tell us of. The Door to the Higher is open right now, the Earth is being flooded with the Divine Light. All we need to do is to look Upwards, towards God - and walk through the Door.