Guided Meditations Transcription
#4 – Know Yourself
This recording is not really a guided meditation in the sense that there will be no instructions to follow. I am speaking directly to that part of you that is beyond the thinking mind so do your best to not listen with the analytical mind. Don’t try to learn anything from these words. Instead let the words create an opening, a space to enter in, a resonance.
The words being said are pointers to something that requires a leap into the unknown. The ancient imperative ‘know yourself’ points towards this journey of discovery of SELF that is beyond thinking and the senses. It points to the realization and the uniting with our true nature. This union is Samadhi. It is not some mystical or altered state We are actually in an altered state most of the time a state of delusion, Maya, identification with form and thought.
The path to realization is simultaneously an exploration to discover more and more of yourself, and at the same time the wisdom to identify with less and less of yourself. The yin aspect of meditation is to accept ‘what is’ without resistance. The Yang aspect is to be fully present, fully conscious; a consciousness that is by its very nature penetrating into what IS.
Both are practiced simultaneously. Being present and accepting what is are not activities in the normal sense. Being present or being presence, simply being what you always already are, is to simply be open and receptive to what IS. Likewise to be in a state of non-resistance or to be equanimous is to simply be open and receptive to what IS- to the field of changing phenomena. The most advanced meditation is to learn to do nothing at all, by realizing what the mind is already doing and dropping it.
In the previous meditations we used the breath as a bridge to anchor us in the now, to ground us in the real, to penetrate into what is making the unconscious mind patterns conscious. We penetrate into the thoughts and sensations arising and passing away throughout the framework of the body. We observe this raw data at a subtle level of mind prior to labeling and prior to discrimination of this and that. The field of change is everything that is impermanent.
We observe the impermanence itself, the entire phenomenal world as a field of changing energy; ‘annica’. In meditation the practice is to always be aware of the most subtle aspects possible sharpening the mind to observe the hidden unconscious activities of the self structure. When the observer starts to disappear or merge into the observed the sensory data becomes more wave-like, more fluid or free-flowing. Our consciousness becomes ONE with the original breath, the original creative expression called ‘prana’; the pure life force itself.
In the yogic traditions prana is the animating principle of the universe. This animating principle has its own innate intelligence. It is the intelligence of the body of how to heal how to simultaneously beat the heart digest food breathe and distribute breath throughout the entire body, and so on. Prana is the primordial pulse of expansion and contraction, the divine word, the logos, the spiral of life, our original pattern which is the DNA that we were born with in this human body.
Observe reality as it is in this moment; the field of change. Now is there anything you are missing? Is there a subtle aspect or dimension of reality that you are not aware of? Something hidden in plain view? What is it that is responsible for the changing field of phenomena? Where does it arise from? What is it in me that is moving the breath in and out? What is it that allows me to see think and hear? These are not questions to be answered with the mind. But what they point towards, what the investigation points towards is revealed when there is a cessation of the thinker.
In the Upanishads it is said “not that which the eye sees but that by which the eye can see, that alone is Brahman the eternal.” Not what I see and think, but THAT by which I can see and think, THAT alone is Brahman, or our true nature. It is not about particular thoughts, visuals and sounds. Realize that by which they are possible; the source out of which the entire phenomenal field arises, which you could call the ground of your existence.
The ground of your existence cannot be seen as an object or subject it is that out of which seeing thinking and all phenomena arises. It is the great mystery of your being, the ever-present “I AM” Consciousness remains aware of itself as consciousness. Thereis no sense of self seeing. There’s no ‘me’ seeing, no self hearing, no self thinking. Seeing, hearing, and thinking – these things are just happening but I am not involved.
Consciousness remains disentangled, beyond, aware of itself. Witness the witness, observe the observer. First there will be identification with the limited self and the functioning of the skandhas, the false self, the changing self. There will be a witness and what is witnessed. But eventually this duality collapses. The transcendent dimension of non-duality is realized. You can’t imagine what Samadhi is. Don’t look for something and don’t ignore anything. Be persistent. Come to the point where you are immovable It is not that your mind becomes a immovable, but you realize the part of you that does not come and go.
Like Buddha under the Bodhi tree or Christ on the cross, your meditation creates conditions of no escape for the egoic self. Whatever pain or ecstasy arises one does not react. Awareness remains on the sense of “I AM” or you could say with God if you prefer that language. Open yourself up beyond pain and pleasure beyond your comfort and discomfort. Beyond self and not self. Beyond perception and non perception.
There are two fundamental dimensions or two aspects to human existence: that which is changing, and that which does not change. It is the mind or the self structure that brings this separation into being so that we can have a human experience unfolding in time. But experiencing this unique limitation we have forgotten our true nature. Now it is time to remember.
That which changes could be called what is relative. When you strip away all that is relative, all that is changing, you are left with the absolute; pure awareness or “I am-ness”. That which does not change is the absolute. How do we realize the absolute? As we’ve repeated over and over in this meditation series there is no how-to. It is always the mind that wants to know how, but the mind can’t do it. We purify the mind by disentangling consciousness from it.
By not reacting to anything that is arising. It takes tremendous work but not the work of doing. Our preoccupation with doing is the obstacle. Any “how-to” is a product of the mind and will lead to endless doing endless seeking. When there is no-mind seeking then it can be realized that relative and absolute are created by the mind. Form is exactly emptiness and emptiness exactly form. Emptiness dancing the world into being. To understand this relationship between relative and absolute is Prajna; wisdom of the great reality.
To live this wisdom is to dance freely between the world of time and the timeless. It is not about giving up the material world for some spiritual world- giving up one thing for another. It is never about ‘this or that’- it is always ‘this and that’. It’s always integral. Not some altered state, some state that happens in the future, some mystical state. It is your state of being right now- your experience of this world, this reality unmediated by egoic thought.
The teaching is so simple and so subtle that your mind will always miss it. If in your meditation practice your mind is trying to figure out how to do something, how to realize your true nature, then you’ve missed what meditation is. If your mind is controlling your meditation practice, if there is any identification with the technique or doing being employed, then the activity of the mind will continue to distract from the realization of your true nature.
We use meditation as a verb; “to meditate” but actually it is not a verb. The more you are IN meditation the less there is anyone doing anything. The conundrum for awakening is that the mind is operating on many levels we are not conscious of. You don’t know what you don’t know. If it is unconscious then by definition you are not aware of it. There are hidden levels of self that are deeply unconscious, like a clenching fist holding the self in place. We cannot relax that clenching until it’s uncovered, penetrated with awareness and made conscious.
Meditation is about revealing what is already there, excavating, working with great focus and conviction, with determination and awareness, revealing the primordial mystery of which all phenomena arises. When the mystery is revealed it is not merely the divinity of your own being but the divinity of all things that is revealed. There is literally no me that awakens. The eye that I think I am awakens to the one true nature out of which everything arises. In meditation the deep unconscious patterns of the self structure can be revealed to us when we witness the field of change without reaction, without resistance on all of the different layers of mind.
The gross physical layer, the thinking layer and thelanguage matrix that creates external reality, and the more subtle template layers, the archetypal layers related to higher mind. And finally Ananda or the Bliss layer. To realize Samadhi is to first uncover and then realize the emptiness of all of these layers of mind, to detach from or drop identification with all levels of self, from the gross to subtle. In the Heart Sutra it is said that upon realizing the emptiness of the five skandhas, the emptiness of the self structure, the Bodhisattva awakens realizing their true nature.
We realize our true nature by the negative path what the Christian saints called “via negativa” or in Taoism wu wei; not doing. Similarly in Advaita Vedanta “neti neti” is the term used which means “not this not that”. You find out what you are by realizing what you are NOT. Observing all of your changing thoughts and sensations from gross to subtle you realize that everything is impermanent. What remains? You can’t look for a thing for a subject or object.
The imminent self is what is behind the looking- behind the searching or seeking. You already are what you have been looking for. Relax into non-doing Give up all seeking and surrender to the heart of your being. Just as the eye cannot see itself the witness cannot witness itself. We can witness our bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions, activities of the mind, but WHO is witnessing all that is changing? There is a part of you that is unchanging, unaffected by all that arises and passes away. You cannot find it because it IS what is looking.
Don’t let the mind get involved. Looking directly at the mind realize your true nature and awaken. Realize your ‘Self’ that is beyond thinking and sensation. In Samadhi a sort of miracle happens – a recognition of a dimension beyond movement and stillness. But it is impossible to convey what it is with words. It is not apart from oneself but until it is realized AS oneself, it is dormant as if asleep. You ARE that presence.
Wisdom can only be born. Prajna can only be born, and when it is born then it realizes that it was never born. Death and birth are part of identification with form. It is an awakening, a remembering or a recognition that happens. Primordial BEING, the ground of existence cannot be coerced to awaken by the mind. It literally wakes up to itself. The awakening is a cessation of identification or entanglement with the limited self.
This awakening can happen at any point on your journey. It is usually only a temporary opening and can be easily lost once energy begins to flow back into the old conditioned patterns and the activities of the mind. The mind can appropriate an awakening experience. The self structure wants to believe that IT is awakened or IT is enlightened. Awakening to the truth has been called the gate-less gate, the gate that no one can pass.
This is the wisdom gate ; the realization of prajna or panna, the realization of Christ consciousness, Buddha nature. There is no gate to enter the great reality but there are infinite paths. The paths, the Dharma’s, are an endless spiral with no beginning and no end. No one can pass the gateless gate no one’s mind has ever figured out how. No mind has ever passed it and none ever will. How to pass? There is no how.
No one can pass the gateless gate, so be no one. Realize annata – no self. It is your mind that creates the gate, the barrier between inner and outer. Let the mind become empty empty into its depths. Don’t let anything hide in the unconscious. Let even the unconscious be transparent. Let the mind be still to its depths and you will find there is no gate. Be still and know.