Meditation, Contemplation and Inquiery.
The most effective and direct approach.
"There`s more than one way to skin a cat".
-Seba Smith, 1840.
Even though I tried so much and so many, I was allergic to disciplines. If someone told me to stand still, I would walk.
Even though I did so many, they all fell and never stayed. In the beginning I was ruthless, using timers for each dicipline, one after each other with no breaks. Ha-ha. The ego did not like this and I had many ego-backlashes. Poor thing. No wonder.
Later, I never sat down at a fixed time to do contemplation, meditation or inquiry. It just came out of the blue, as a natural want. And maybe this is not at all for you! For many it`s not. For some, this falls natural to them. And this content is for you.
Through a relaxed approach I quickly came to observe how I observe, and how I was doing the techniques.
Carefully monitoring the way of process. And being brutally honest when I saw I was chasing empty goals. Distractions.
The key really, is to see that the mind operates under two opposite aspects. One pushes away, the other pulls in. Do you see where this is heading?
It wants. It refuses.
It says yes. It says no.
Now you see that the mind only does two things. Great!
Now, who is the one watching these pushes and pulls? Who is the one seeing the ongoing conflict?
Who is watching the watcher, who is watching "you"?
There is awareness of the watcher.
This is where you have to stay, abide and rest, as you observe the impermanent phenomena.
Two poles of the mind, + and -
Normally we are swung from one to another, back and forth, all day.
But from abiding in the middle, you can simply watch the conflict at a distance. You see the red team and the blue team fight it`s "Team deathmatch".
And this non-attached seeing will burn away the conflict. As awareness is accumulating, as is your crap dissipating. The lighter, the less darkness.
"Whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. What is soft is strong."
- Lao Tzu
Meditation is simple. It can be applied to practically anything.
You can meditate on Awakening. You can also meditate on math, a tone, a thought, an object, on a taste, on a sensation. You can meditate on an ailment, disease, aches, syndromes. You can meditate on a vision, goals of your day, performance, increase concentration.
It is that calm presence which the world arises within, where the meditation happens.
So, we meditate our way through life.
Before entering meditation, it is wise to clear out clutter.
The following points are constructed to calm the mind before any meditation. You can read them every time before you meditate, and soon enough it will be integrated as a foundation to your practice.
Read the following mindfully and calmly before the practice to reset the mind, and quickly enter present moment awareness.
Neutrally observe thoughts, feelings and sensations that arises.
Don`t take anything personal.
Be mindful when your mind is going different places.
The mind will bring up thoughts you "should not have during meditation". Observe this frustration and the argue it does with itself.
Don`t take thoughts or feelings seriously.
Don`t buy into sensations. Observe them.
If you get caught up in the sensations, do not beat yourself up.
If you fail, just watch yourself fail.
If you notice the pitfalls during meditation, good job. You will enter presence again.
Anxious and frustrated of not being able to control your thoughts. You have no control. this is a trap.
Assuming meditation should be calm and peaceful. No, you will be frustrated.
Trying to stop thoughts completely. Do not do that. You have no power to do this.
Resisting thoughts that arise. Stop resisting it.
Daydreaming. Meditation is not daydreaming. It can feel like you are daydreaming, but you are watching it.
Trying to meditate when you are tired. Those will be the worst. Meditate during the day when you have the highest mental clarity.
Not accepting whatever happens during meditation. Before meditation, remind yourself to accept everything that is happening now in the present moment. Literally accept it all: toothache, scratch or itchy, problems at work, your current mood, accept you don`t want to meditate, accept it is a bad time to meditate. Accept everything negative that you normally would resist.
Trying to get somewhere with meditation. "Today I want to have a good session", "today I want the session to be better than yesterday", "I want to achieve a goal today", "I want to experience enlightenment", "today I want to release all my thoughts".
Some days you will feel bad, the mind is wired up, you will be tired. Accept that.
There will be longer intervals of good sessions, but suddenly it will change, and you can barely sit still. Doubt and negative self-talk will arise. Allow this.
You are everyday at a different place and time in your life, so the quality of meditation will change. Accept this.
Notice the pitfalls.
There is no agenda. Stop trying to get somewhere. This is more thoughts.
In the big picture, over the long-term horizon, you have goals. Peace of mind and enlightenment. But these goals are to be dropped before meditation.
"The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."
- Meister Eckhart.
Look at your hand right now. Look at it deeply. Notice the mind projects and labels "hand". Maybe it projects "fingerprint", or "biological bindings", "blood and veins", "nails".
Now ask: “What is this actually?"
Keep looking for another minute, and notice the mind change with your hand.
Contemplation is truly the most effective way. But it is best used by us, where the technique falls naturally towards. Sitting with a question and digging through it all the way to its origin is not for everyone. And thank the Goddess for that! Imagine everyone just sitting on their ass drinking tea absorbed in the mind.
The world is so unique due to its infinite aspects of expressions. Be happy you are different! Even so, the same.
Contemplation is where ideas meets reality. A beautiful and describing quote for this would be this one from Elijah Muhammad:
"One hour of contemplation surpasses sixty years of worship."
What is contemplation?
Contemplation is the action of looking deeply and thoughtfully at something over a period.
To look deeply at something over a long time requires concentration. But these two goes hand in hand. You will be amazed of how easier your life is by upgrading your concentration, a skill to lock the mind on a single thought.
But let me show you the essence.
Think of a red apple. See it clearly and hold it in mind.
Now ask: “What is a thought?"
The apple drowns within it.
This direct experience of contemplation is the absolute function of the technique. Whatever you think it is, it is not. And just by sitting there with awareness on your "object" you`ll see that the sun melts the snow. Rain washes the stains away. Behind the clouds is clear sky.
Before we are even going into the process of contemplation it is especially important to fix the foundation first.
It`s impossible to build skyscrapers upon sediments. You need ground rock.
We start off with some assumptions:
You are full of shit.
Nothing your mind says can be trusted.
All beliefs and teachings are false.
Only direct experience can be trusted.
The truth is not fragile. You are not going to hurt the truth by questioning it. Only clarify it. Don`t be afraid.
Contemplation is NOT:
Speculation and guesswork.
Justifying your systems of beliefs.
Building new beliefs, or grand theories.
Daydreaming or fantasizing.
Not based of proofs.
Opinionizing, or justifying opinions.
Pursuit of success or practical advantage.
Observation. Seeing how anything works.
Deconstruction of beliefs.
Observing the process of contemplation. Awareness of it.
Self-reflection. Your role in this. Intimately involved.
Questioning beliefs, teaching, and culture.
Thinking completely independently for yourself.
To get the Truth, whatever it takes and costs. Even if you are afraid. This is particularly important.
Successful contemplation requires:
Total open mindedness.
Impartiality (fairness of all parties/sides).
Stepping outside your agenda.
Holding no ideas sacred. Question any ideas.
Not knowing. Really consciously accept this.
Absolute self-reliance. You are here alone. Nobody to help you. Nobody to give answers.
Genuine curiosity! Discover something new today!
Taking things as self-evident. 1+1≠ 2.
Trying to work towards the right answer.
Relying on external sources. This is a major one. Examples being videos, books, teachers etc.
Thinking inside your culture. You isolate yourself in a bobble when you contemplate.
Building grand theories for everything, how all stuff fits together. Every time you construct a theory be suspicious. The ego loves this and can get lost.
False scepticism, rationalism, and view of science. There is no evolution, no empirical science.
Distraction, the ego`s favourite defence mechanism (grabbing the phone or daydreaming).
Awareness of how you distract yourself. The mind wants to turn to something else.
Want to build intellectual autonomy. The boss of your life. Health, relationships, intellectual gains.
Using videos and teachings to contemplate. Athletes don`t get better just by sitting down and watching videos or listening to teachings. You need to work the mind.
Should feel like you are cutting through a lot of bullshit.
Contemplation should be fun and invigorating! But it can all so quickly turn to emotional turmoil and fear. Take this as a sign that you`re heading in the right direction.
The biggest problem is that the mind is lazy and don`t want to do it. It makes excuses. It`ll rather watch a teacher speak words of glitter instead of questioning it`s treasures. It is just a natural process when something gets threatened. When a foreign and hurtful bacteria or virus enters the body, the body soon activates it`s defences. So, when you are questioning contents of the mind, the mind quickly activates it`s defences. It`s beautiful. Thank you. I love you for protecting me.
Reality vs. Concept
This is the question. Is it reality or is it a concept?
What is actual? Is the moon there when you are not looking at it? When you close your eyes at night, does the outside world continue? Is some other culture waking up to a new day somewhere else?
The most profound experiences arise from questioning the obvious. Shifting from beliefs to experiences, is shifting from eating pictures on the menu instead of eating the food itself.
Whatever we believe about ourselves will be perceived as a part of us.
Feeling of being trapped. Trapped is a concept. Not real.
Feeling of helplessness. Helplessness is a concept. Not real.
Feeling of shame and guilt. Shame and guilt are concepts. Not real.
Feeling empty and abandoned. Empty and abandoned are concepts. Not real.
Deserving nobody. Concept. Not real.
God. Enlightenment. Awakening. All labels of an experience. Concepts, and not real.
Earth, continents, countries, borders, civilizations, ethical and moral standards, the law, empirical science, governments, humans, family and friends, life, time, motion, emotion, sound, a bird, and the list can go on forever. All concepts. All false.
These are all labels of experience. Experience occurs only in the now. So now must be God. Now must be a bird. Now must be a human. Now is always occurring, which brings us to infinity which always is. Now is absolute, forever, and ever, and engulfs the entire spectrum of everything. All is now. So, what is Now? I don`t know. You tell me!
It`s a living fact that you don`t know what anything is.
Not knowing is a state that always exist before achieving any kind of insight - inner sight. Unlearn to learn. Unlearn to know.
Are you conscious? Yes! That`s it.
The truth is not fragile. It can`t be damaged or deconstructed. There is only one Truth.
We have 4 essential cornerstones:
To find Truth we must investigate unwanted personal attributes clearly and without avoidance. Not overdramatizing or cover anything with sugar, but earnestly trying to observe what`s there. The goal is to discover what is true, regardless of how we feel about it, or what we believe in.
Paradoxes and confusion are guardians of truth.
Example of contemplation.
Have one piece of paper and a pen in your hand. Sit down comfortably. If you are like me, you`ll set a timer to avoid thoughts about the phone.
So, let`s begin!
Write ONE question at the top of the page. Examples being: "What is a concept?", "What is a belief?", "What is language?", "What is thought?".
Set aside minimum 20 minutes. The mind needs to attain traction and momentum which tends to take a few minutes. Access concentration.
Think from ground zero. Remove all beliefs, teachings, and teachers.
Ground the experience in concrete subjective examples.
Come from a position where you are the first person who asks this question.
Example nr. 1: "What is a thought"?
Is "What is a thought?" itself a thought? Observe.
Red apple, tall trees, yellow car. Are these thoughts one or three individual?
Can I taste a thought?
Red apple, banana, red apple. Is the first and last thought identical? Are they all identical? Observe how they arise in your mind. Don`t think it, observe it.
Are thoughts objects?
What is the difference between a thought and an object?
What does a thought feel like?
Where does it arise? And how? Bring it up - disappears - bring it up - disappears.
Is a thought subjective?
Are subjects, humans, having "personal" thoughts?
What is the difference between thinking a red apple and seeing an actual red apple? Observe.
Do thoughts have any physical effect? Imagine someone punching your stomach in brutal force. Observe.
Do thoughts come from a brain?
The essence is not to predict the answers but questioning the obvious sincerely. We want to get to a point of not knowing.
Example nr. 2: "What is an object?"
We are starting off with a few objects. Easy, simple, and primitive objects. Examples being an apple, a pen, a plain glass, or a vitamin box containing vitamins.
What is an object? Observe what is arising.
Are objects solid or fluid.
Are objects alive?
Are the pen and the glass separate from each other?
Are the pen and glass two different objects, or the same?
How are they different, or same?
Does air separate them?
Is air and object?
Does it change from the room to the outside world? Does the air go up into space?
Is space a separate object?
Am I inside this space?
Is space and I different, or the same object?
We can deepen by bringing in one tangible object and one intangible object.
Is the glass and the thought of the glass the same?
Is a thought an object?
What is the difference between a red apple and the number 1?
What is the difference between a red apple and the mind?
You will see that one question flowers into many more. But as you go, you soon get the idea that you are loaded with crap. But again, this assumption must be removed before conducting the contemplation.
Example nr. 3: "The Quiet Strip".
This is without a doubt my favourite. It is so, because I enjoy locking my mind on one single object, holding and observing change.
Hold a pen in your hand.
Settle down and let the mind get quiet.
Now, just look at the pen. Simply look at it.
Observe the labels your mind is firing at it.
Constantly hold your awareness on the pen and seeing the change of thought and the following experience.
Observe and let be.
Eventually the mind gets emptied of bullets and it`s power is diminished.
You can contemplate anything. Down below is a list of matters worth contemplating further.
List of contemplative matters:
What is a thought?
What is an object?
What is a concept?
What is ego?
What is truth?
What is evidence?
What is a symbol?
What is language?
What is fear?
What is identity?
What is duality?
What is a boundary?
What is a belief?
Again, let me remind you, that contemplation is done alone, in silence and with mental clarity. If you just broke up with your boyfriend, contemplation would not be highly effective. In that case meditation is more suitable, sitting down and feeling unconditionally from a neutral point, letting the mud sink to the bottom.
Now remember, you don`t start running 10 km the first day of practice. You start with 1 km. And the next day 1,5 km and so on until you accumulate a foundation to maintain the body healthy at 10 km distance.
Start with 20 minutes contemplation for a week, or so. Then FEEL the want to increase the time, not forcing it!
Effort is another concept. Not real.
"I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light."
- Isaac Newton
Inquiry is simple. All it required is focus, concentration and the ability to lock the mind on one matter.
We are locking the mind on the "I" thought.
If this is the first time you hear about the "I" thought don`t be disheartened. Let me simplify it dramatically for you.
We are assuming that you are a thought. When you say "I" in front of anything, "I" is the first to arise in your mind. It`s the primordial thought. It is the carrier. Kill it and kill everything.
We ask very direct questions to ourselves, repeatedly, and observe the "I" arise and being knocked out of awareness. Through this you will also become aware when you enter the mind and when it slides into presence.
That is why contemplation and inquiry are such good teammates.
Before entering inquiry, we calm the mind. One fantastic technique is doing mindfulness, concentration, and conscious breathing. The three methods are listed below.
Method 1: "Mindfulness meditation; Noting”.
Sit down comfortably and relax for some moments. Keep eyes open to not exclude anything.
Open up to everything. Start to note.
See: outside and within (objects, thoughts)
Hear: outside and within (sounds, inner dialogue)
Feel: outside and within (physical body sensations, emotions)
Method 2: "Conscious connected breathing"
Amazingly simple. Sit down and get comfortable. Close your eyes and relax for some moments.
Get aware of the breath. See how it rise and falls all by itself, in its own time.
Note "rise" and "fall".
Method 3: "Straight stare"
Light a candle in front of you. The candle should be positioned respectfully where your vision is diagonally turned downwards and meets the floor. This will help your eyes rest and not strain.
Look at the candlelight continuously.
Keep pulling awareness back to the light when it gets distracted.
We can NOT prejudge our inquiry. We can NOT assume what the conclusion might be. Go through a discovery process.
The way you lead your life, that`s what reveals the real philosophy running the show.
The truth is "That which is the case”.
Getting to the actual inquiry.
We are going to ask ourselves two questions in the method below. That`s it.
This method is powerful. It is given in the book called "Who am I? Meditation" by Ramaji. This section, this method, is key. It`s assertive due to it`s simple, effective, and direct approach. So, we ask ourselves these questions, again and again.
Method: "Assertive Two-Step Inquiry".
Who am I?
Where do I come from?
Again and again, you ask these questions, staying completely mindful and noticing the mind being dropped into presence. Here is where you abide.