A Talk given by David Jones, August 22nd, 2010
Have you ever noticed how often most people judge life’s events as either good or bad? We seem to constantly be evaluating and measuring with our measuring stick whether things are going well or not so well. What we know from our spiritual search and understanding is that there is a way to see life from another point of view and to transcend the idea of good and bad. Let us explore how our spiritual experience of oneness can help free us from constant judging of bad in ourselves, others, and the events in our life.
Through the unitary spiritual experience of oneness we rise to a higher level of knowledge and insight, and come to understand that the difference between the two are not what we normally perceive. We understand that “the bad” in fact serves a very important purpose; that it is there to help us and the world around us evolve. In that sense it is just as good as “the good!” Conversely through the experience of spiritual consciousness we begin to perceive that many things we perceive as “good” may not be truly good, and may just be expressions of our desires, attachments, and preferences.
How many of us have looked back over the course of our lives and have seen that the difficult experiences we have gone through (that at the time we perceived of as bad) was often the doorway to a new beginning or opportunity. If we can carry into our daily lives the consciousness of a plane beyond good and bad, we will be able to operate from a more centered poise, enabling us to make better decisions since we see the world from a greater depth and deeper truth. This in effect can only lead to greater success and happiness in life. Let us explore how we can learn to overcome some of the limitations of the mind so that we may explore the greater depth of which we speak.
Overcoming Limitations of the Mind:
Having spiritual experiences such as oneness helps us recognize that the source of our thinking process, our mind, is a very limited instrument. Before the spiritual consciousness our minds seem small and limited, filled with our own prejudices and justifications; limited in its awareness, perspective, and knowledge in life’s situations and circumstances. On closer scrutiny we discover that the mind and its thoughts tend to pick out one truth out of a larger truth, one piece of the puzzle, discarding the rest. Or it divides things into pieces or sections, not able to hold a wider truth or know the big picture.
From this discovery of the limitations of mind we can make the effort to break our attachments to our own attitudes, opinions, and habits. This effort can help us become more tolerant, energized, and open to the possibility of the full truth, not the limited truth that our own minds present us. This can only lead to greater knowledge, awareness, achievement, success, and happiness in life.
The spiritual experience often leads to an awareness that the things that occur outside of ourselves and the things within us have a direct correlation and relationship. The mind says they are divided, are of two different worlds, and cannot possibly have a direct relationship.
For example, how could changing an attitude possibly relate to a positive circumstance happening to you a few moments after be related in any way. Our minds suggest that such a relationship lies beyond the normal bounds of causality, space and time. Yet, that is precisely what occurs.
Our conclusion is that everything that is happening around you is a reflection of innermost thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. If something is wrong on the outside, you find the corresponding negative inner perception, change it, and watch life respond positively in kind. This in turn leads us to the understanding that we can and should take responsibility for everything that is happening around us, and can make inner changes to effect the world around us.
Interestingly, we have witnessed that if people take this approach, they can bring about an instant outer response from life. For example an individual changes an attitude about someone at work, and instantly gets a call thereafter that a new project has been agreed upon that that person is to lead; or a man cleans something he was reluctant to clean before and instantly finds out that he has run into some expected money. This is called a Life Response.
If your attitudes and opinions are reflected by the circumstances around you, then we can make an effort to change the world on the outside by making a change on the inside; by changing our attitudes, opinions, and habits, or taking a specific action. Under certain circumstances life on the outside can instantly respond to your inner effort.
If you can look at every positive and negative circumstance and match it to a corresponding attitude, value, or habit inside yourself, you will be well on your way to understanding the character of life, and gain the ability to master life. There is no faster way to change the world around us than by acting from a positive inner poise.
There are several helpful techniques which may be of help to you in learning to switch your awareness and perceptions. Let us explore. These include switching our thinking when we become aware of something we need to change our thinking about, and secondly, practicing meditation on a continual basis to raise our consciousness beyond good and bad and transcend into a unity with all things.
Using Your Mind to Control Your Thoughts:
Whenever you are bothered by something outside yourself in your life, try to see the corresponding limited habit, opinion, or attitude. Then make an effort to change it at that moment. Better yet develop an action plan to change it in all aspects of your life!
Practice Daily Meditation:
When it comes to wanting a higher level of spiritual consciousness many people balk at the thought of daily meditation but meditation is the fundamental root to spiritual consciousness. Many people may not feel that they aspire to a higher state of spiritual consciousness, but by nature, we all eventually desire and move towards it.
The best place to begin when faced with a question like Why Meditate? is to take a closer look at what the mind is. The mind is a continuity of thoughts that present themselves in a linear arrangement in both our waking hours and when we are asleep (in the form of dreams). Our thoughts cause a reaction in our nervous systems that is known as stress. Some stress is necessary for our day-to-day functioning and some of it is unnecessary and can even harm us. Research has shown that it is the harmful stress that meditation can address and reduce by helping us to transcend the whims and worries of our minds.
Meditators the world over have been found to suffer less stress and anxiety, can transcend pain of any sort, can rejuvenate themselves easier after exertion, can deal with sleep problems, fatigue, deal with problems like weight loss, smoking cessation, gain confidence in communication with others, motivation in career and study and much else that is exacerbated by day to day life. And many who master the techniques, find improvement in concentration and all sorts of mental abilities.
As well as gaining a higher level of spiritual consciousness, the benefits of meditation is a general reduction of stress-levels, improved mental focus and concentration, and improved ability to experience a state of calmness – even in the midst of a busy city.
Constant practice of meditation has a profound influence on the consciousness and the mind. The mind is restless and loves constant movement and change. Meditation removes the restlessness of the mind, making it a better and more useful tool.
Meditation develops concentration, awakens inner peace and brings the mind under your control. Constant practice develops peace of mind, silence, inner quietness, joy and inner power that no outer circumstances can take away or change.
There are people who regard meditation as an unpractical, useless and meaningless pursuit. They consider those who seek inner peace and silence as dreamers, visionaries and unpractical people, who are out of touch with reality. This is an erroneous assumption. There have always been very practical, pragmatic and active persons, who also engaged intensively in inner, spiritual quest, some of whom you may find difficult to associate with meditation and spirituality.
This shows that practicality, common sense and spirituality can go hand in hand.
Living a spiritual life, and at the same time engaging in mundane activities is not unusual. There is no such rule that one has to abandon everything and live in an ashram or a monastery, in order to meditate and lead a spiritual life.
Success in meditation requires earnestness, persistence and strong motivation, but the rewards are great and valuable. After the mind becomes habitually calm and quiet as a result of a regular practice, one might discover that there is no need for special meditation sessions anymore, because inner peace and silence will be experienced at other times of the day.
When the mind is at peace, there arises a kind of calm, joyous and powerful consciousness, which is different from the ordinary, everyday consciousness. It is vast and endless, full of calmness, rest, happiness, joy, power and invincibility. It is a sort of an altered state of consciousness, which is not a state of trance or lack of awareness of the earthly plane. It is an awareness that encompasses both the earthly and spiritual planes.
After beginning to taste this consciousness of inner peace and bliss, you will find that sometimes you may experience it in your everyday life, not only while meditating. It may suddenly or gradually possess your awareness for some time, and then it goes away. At this stage you will need to make it constant. This is done by pacifying your mind, and by making the effort to remember and awaken it wherever you are, at any time, and under all circumstances. This is the way to turn it into your ordinary, everyday consciousness.
In order to hasten the awareness of the inner consciousness it is recommended that you become more aware of your thoughts as they arise and pass through your mind. Do not let them sweep you away. Just remain focused, uninvolved with them, and deeply aware of the consciousness that looks at these thoughts. Let the peace that wells up fill you completely.
I hope these thoughts and suggestions will be of some assistance to you on your daily spiritual journey in seeking truth that is beyond good and bad and to find peace through the unity that spiritual practices give us.