First of all there is a moment of inspiration, a knowingness that this is what I want to do. This takes place outside of intellect. It’s like a call from within responding to something that it recognises. But because it’s not intellectual, it can easily be missed. So what often happens is that it takes a while actually to consciously recognise that the decision has already been made. It takes time for the mind to catch up. I often think of it as like the persistent youngster running after calling out, Wait for meee…
What that means in practical terms is that the decision making only becomes finally resolved in the mind when the booking is made because then the mind is committed. Until then, although the decision may have been made long before, a lot of thought may have to follow, seeing it from this way and that. And then sometimes, you decide, well maybe not this time, but one day this is what you intent to do.
Funnily enough the purpose of meditation is to be able to do just that, to hear and listen to that inner voice, to recognise it and realise it is much wiser than the intellect, which, in spite of our knowing it, the intellect can still dominate our thinking. Sometimes you just have to hear the mind, register its say in the matter, and then do what you know in some deeper place is right for you anyway. It seems counter-intuitive but it’s not. It may even seem too easy.
Some of the matters that turn over in the mind run something like: Can I organise or justify to be able to spend that much time off or away from home? Will I be able to do it or handle it? What will it all be about? Am I just hiding from myself? If the thoughts stay with the first inspiration such things as finding time and organising somehow seem to fall into place. If the mind interferes it gets more problematic. But this can be seen as part of the learning process. The course kind of begins at the moment of inspiration whether we know it or not!
The only quality that is really needed for any meditation course is the desire to go into the inner world and investigate there, to know yourself better where it matters, regardless of previous experience. (Of course experience does help to affirm the benefits of doing exactly that, but it is not essential). Adjustments can be made so that practice fits and becomes meaningful at every level according to 'ability' and experience.
There are techniques, of course. But whatever technique, they all have really only one purpose: to make it possible to make an entry into our inner world and feel at home there; to find the connection between that and who I have taken myself to be for all this time; to realise and release the inaccuracies of self identity. Therefore in the end what it will be about is the relationship between me and myself.
The purpose is to identify and develop a certain skill in meditation that is not just effective but actually becomes a revelation when after perhaps many trials, perhaps some errors, we get it right and the light of inner vision comes into focus. Anything worthwhile includes the effort.
As for hiding from myself, well we know that’s not really true. On the contrary all the conditions make it right to come closer to yourself. As well as guidance in actual practice everything is there to support you in your endeavour: a calm and peaceful environment; a guarantee of being undisturbed to focus exclusively on the inner life; having the benefit of continuity of focus so that your practice can take you deeper and further than is ever possible in daily life; and a diet that is appropriate for a quiet mind.
There are inaccuracies within us, every one of us: impressions that have too, too strong an influence; misplaced faith; mistakes of identity. To know oneself is eventually to meet these things face to face on equal terms. Sometimes that is not so easy, but ultimately is so rewarding. This actually is really, as they say, the final frontier - to be an inner adventurer.
Things speed up considerably if the inclination is, Well let’s just see who we are here. It means knowing that there may be strong or intense experiences to negotiate eventually, and being prepared to handle that on the way to self discovery. Because anything I recognise accurately in myself, that I come to accept, begins to lose its power, loses its hold over me. That makes us strong, in a different kind of way perhaps than the strength we have looked for in other places, but in a way to be at peace with ourselves.
The light is within, the sun of consciousness is there, only obscured by clouds. All real lasting change for the better comes down to changing in the weather!
Whatever we decide, whenever we decide, wherever we decide, if we have been true to ourself it should match that first moment of inspiration when the inner voice spoke and we heard and listened. If we follow that, surely it will be so.
For more on handling the release of samskaras, the stored impressions that surface in meditation, please see the previous post in the blog:
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