Spirituality's Smoking Gun Part 1
from the blog Dark is Light Enough at darkislightenough.com
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Teilhard Chardin
Ok, the quote is more famous than the quoter ... but if you know anything about spirituality, you know it's true. And I think I stumbled on one of many smoking guns that prove it during an awkward conversation with my 16 year old sons.
I was explaining that religion works like training wheels. (At best) it starts you on a path of spiritual seeking until you can take over yourself. That the major religions have been corrupted by the ruling elite throughout the centuries etc... But if you would just meditate steadily throughout your lives you'll have no need to rely on the illogical mess that's modern day religion.
But then they asked "So how do you meditate?"
"OK there are lots of different techniques - but the object of most is to still the mind of random thoughts." I stammer, seeing the goodwill of my audience quickly fading.
"So you try to think about nothing? That's it?"
Got me. Dad wants us to believe that all the centuries of religious thought, movements, miracles, messiahs, texts, teachings, wars, inquisitions, mega-churches, not to mention Catholic schools are all insignificant compared to stifling a thought about art class while you're sitting cross legged in the dark?
Sorry Dad, but I think I'll spend the next few minutes of quality family time texting some friends that are actually ..kinda.. sane.
But the answer to this question is where things get REALLY INTERESTING! Even offering proof that we're in fact spiritual beings having a human experience!
Spirituality's Smoking Gun Part 2
Try to explain THAT one to your average 16 year old. How could thinking about nothing, or not thinking be the source of all wisdom? Giving you the direct experience nearly all religions are hinting at, shouting about, or at least giving a wink and a nod to? Heaven? Nirvana? Enlightenment? God? Brahman?
But lets backup a minute - so how's this supposed to happen and why?
Lets just cut to the answer and we'll work it backwards: This bliss, divinity, limitless, universal love and connectedness, spirituality is the stuff we're made of - who and what we REALLY are.
A good analogy of the mind is like a sonar scanner on an old submarine. It's in constant scan mode and though it doesn't resemble anything like the actual beauty and detailed richness of ocean life, it DOES do a good job of identifying certain specific threats and concerns.
Our mind likewise is doing constant scanning and rescanning of both our environments AND a simulated mechanistic version of ourselves in that environment. Like the sonar scanner, it's not a accurate picture of reality overall (either ourselves OR our environment) but it does show areas of interest in sharp relief. Like sonar, it's basically basically a narrow simulation and feedback loop.
The clouding of and alienation from our true selves happens once we start living exclusively inside this virtual reality and take it (along with our simulated selves) as reality itself. And most of us do most of the time. The mind keeps creating and recreating this model of our world and ourselves in it - as a navigation and feedback system. Not to accurately replicate the complexity of ourselves and our world, but to make sure our bases are covered. What bases you ask? Basically the ones we decide ourselves are most important from our own strongest fears and desires.
OK so it's not reality, but who could overestimate the value of this mechanistic servant of ours? I mean there probably isn't another single human attribute more responsible for the success and dominion of our species through the ages than our gift of mental simulation and extrapolation.
But it does have one dangerous limitation - it doesn't know when to stop! Wouldn't it be nice if a voice came in our heads and said "Hey you, good news! It looks like all the major bases are covered. You've ticked off your todo lists (even the ones you never wrote down), your family is safe, there's money in the bank, you're appointments are settled, and your obligations to your friends and acquaintances are met to everyone's satisfaction. Your reputation has never been better and the future looks bright."
"So I'm just going to switch off for awhile so you can reconnect with your true self and dwell in a sea of connectedness and universal love, bliss and joy. You'll feel magnificently empowered, yet absolutely fulfilled in your complete surrender to the splendor of your transcendent true self. Drink deep, my friend - you've earned it. But I'm gonna need you back here in a few hours to keep the trains on time. Enjoy!"
But it doesn't work that way. Instead, the simulated self (or ego as some call it) keeps doing its thing in perpetual motion, focusing on ever less important matters long after the important matters are solved and the job is done. You start worrying about the sun eventually burning out, and pretty soon find yourself wondering what Lindsey Lohan was thinking when she showed up for her latest arraignment hearing with sofa hair.
And when our dramas, fears, toil and frustrations have been cleared away for the day - does our ego crave the refuge of deep soulful relaxation to refuel? Of course not. Instead we choose to "relax" by watching TV or movies depicting OTHER people going through even bigger dramas, fears, toils and responsibilities than we do. And do our built in reality scanners seem to care that its completely made up and relevant to no-one? Oddly no.
But that's how our mechanistic mind rolls, and that's all it knows. And so that's what we get - over and over again. Proving again the saying that "The mind is a terrific servant and a lousy master."
Which brings us back to our main theme. That meditation is largely a method to quiet the monkey mind, perpetual motion simulated ego, in order to give the true self (or soul, spirit, etc) a chance to re-manifest and assert itself. And the fact that meditation actually works is proof (or smoking gun) for the clear and obvious existence of the spiritual. Otherwise mediation on nothing would bring nothing but nothing. And nothing could be further from the truth!