Have you ever in your life really, really taken on SILENCE?The Desert Fathers renounced speech in order to learn compassion. I heard a story about the Abbot Macarius who said to the Church community in Scete , “Bretheren Flee.” Confused, one of the community asked, “How can we flee farther than this, we are already in the desert?”. Macarius put his finger to his mouth and told them “Flee from this.” When Arsenius the Roman teacher who gave up everything he owned, money, wealth, status, for the quietness and solitude of the desert, prayed “Lord lead me in the way of salvation.” he heard a voice saying ‘BE SILENT.”
Silence changes us. Not just being quiet for a little while – SILENCE. True silence frees us from the need to control others. Most people won’t be silent because it makes them feel helpless. Maybe we use words to manage and control others…a manic stream of words rushes out of us in a vain attempt to straighten others out. We want people to agree with us. We are constantly judging and trying to change others. Silence is one of the Deepest Disciplines of the Spirit because it puts an end to that aspect of our life.
Maybe this time of Covid is the perfect opportunity to put aside activity to learn to pray/meditate. Prayer is at the centre of The Desert Experience. To pray is to change. To pray is to welcome into our lives the simplicity of detachment and compassion (prayer in action).
SEE YOU ON THE PRAYER MAT.
Now we will come to yoga. You have read about actions and non actions and the results of both. To learn how to control the mind you must learn how to control the mind.
“Meditation” the word is used for all kinds of practice. When people talk to me about how they meditate I tend to glaze over as mostly it is apparent that they have confused meditation with contemplation or just thinking. As my teacher said to me “Are you a warrior? to meditate this is what you must be”. It was not an easy thing and it was not to be treated lightly. Meditation is the first step on the road to Enlightenment.
In order to meditate you must prepare. First watch the breath. Now I am breathing in, now I am breathing out. I challenge you to do more than a few breaths without your mind wandering away. If you are honest, about ten breaths. That’s OK. The whole point of this exercise is to bring the mind to neutral. Watching the breath is not the act which will set you free, but knowing what is happening when it is happening will be helpful.
Ask yourself why you want to meditate. Why are you here? I believe it is because you want to answer the questions you have never been able to ask or answer. The questions children ask. Why are we here? Why do we die? Why do we get old and sick? We teach them not to ask, and they in turn become adults who tell their children “these questions have no answers”. The Church tells them these questions will be answered when you die. Do you want to wait that long?
Decide here and now that you will meditate with a goal in mind – to find the answers to these questions. Do not waste your life playing with lesser objectives.
To begin ask The Enlightened Ones and your Heart Teacher to join you. They will come. You bowed to them before you sat, bow to them again, and then imagining the glorious Beings in front of you, bow down deeply in gratitude, happiness and awe, as you will when the time comes that you actually see them.. your head and hands touching their heavenly feet. Sit. Imagine the most beautiful flowers in all the world and shower your Guides with these flowers in gratitude, and ask gently for their help.
Now, clean your conscience. You cannot take this journey with a heavy heart. As in the 12 Step program, remember those you have wronged and beg their forgiveness vowing to keep to the the narrow path. Just doing this one thing will expand the beauty of your meditation beyond what you could ever imagine.
Now do the opposite. Think of all the good things you have done, all the good thoughts, words and deeds.when you do this your heart will be bursting with joy to overflowing.
Now, ask your Guides here present for their guidance. Ask them to continue to appear to you in all the ways and places that they can (and they can astound you). Ask them to appear as teachers even as people around you – the people in the street, at the supermarket, on the TV. That they will continue to teach you and continue to guide you along the Path. Ask then from your heart, to always be near you, to never leave you, always teaching, always guiding. When you do this, a great quiet will fall over you.
Now understand this – silence is not the goal. The silence is not the meditation. Chickens can sit quietly and produce nothing more than an egg, as beautiful as that is, it is still an egg. The truth is IN THE SILENCE of meditation. Meditation is the tool, it is not the goal. Ultimate wisdom is the heart of the path. Meditating for the sake of meditation would be like having an axe and burning it for warmth instead of using it to cut down a tree for greater warmth. If you sat for months without thought would that be helpful?Not really, eventually you would get ill and die.
To enter the serious path to meditation you really do need to learn from a teacher. It is more difficult to learn from a DVD, or zoom, because a teacher must disturb you in order to help you to understand where your mind is along the path at any time.
Laziness is the greatest enemy in meditation. Many meditators waste their time in useless fog. They tell themselves their mind is empty and this is good, and it is what they aim for. It is not useful. Mental dullness has become a drug to these students. They are addicted to the excuse of inaction and nothingness. They feel nothing.
In the beginning bring the face of your Heart Teacher to your mind and keep it there, bright and real. To deal with agitation, bring your thoughts back to your heart. Slow the breaths, count them if you must. Think of your meditation experience however it is, as a large flock of birds, swirling and dipping as the wind changes – but always a flock of birds.
When you have mastered these steps, and are able to keep the picture clearly in your mind you must watch for the monkey telling you that adjustment is necessary when no adjustment is necessary. That is the final trap. Only when you have mastered the basics, can you begin to use the meditation for problem solving. When you meditate regularly and correctly, it will seem as if one meditation attaches seamlessly to the last no matter the time that has passed in between sessions. You will find yourself growing in insight.
Think lastly of the way to end your meditation. Think of a pond, and imagine a drop of water entering that pond, see the ripples going outwards from the drop of water – the sacred event of your meditation. Imagine these ripples getting longer and stronger, waves of happiness touching every living thing around you.
Are you asking yourself what to meditate on? As my teacher said, begin where you must begin. Your heart teacher is there to teach you. Ask for help, have faith and trust and the answer will come. Please log on to this short video. It may help.