Today I am meditating in the comfort of my own home. I have the day off and it’s been relaxing and stress-free. I felt so full of presence yesterday that today I almost feel flat, depressed. When the presence leaves you, or should I say when you are no longer tuned into the presence that is always with you, you worry a little that you’ll never get it back. I think part of the process of spiritual growth is overcoming the misconception that your inner bliss is ever unavailable. It’s always available to you – it is you; you simply perceive it to greater or lesser degrees. Having experienced this as true, I’m feeling fine about not feeling SO connected today. It’s there. Not every day is a hallmark day.
And with that realization the experience deepens. I break my dependence on good days and my aversion to bad days and further my transcendence of time and place.
I feel like I should have a better meditation today because I am home and relaxed. Circumstances are more conducive to deep meditation here, so I expect to have one and to be happier for it. I am aware of this expectation, which prompts the following observations:
If life is an illusion, then pleasure and pain are illusions. One does not exist without the other, therefore neither are ultimately real. They are opposites and thus mutually dependent. We meditate to achieve a non-dual awareness – an awareness that transcends the world of opposites and becomes all-encompassing.
Most people resist pain. In doing so they often tell themselves that it is an illusion, which is true. But they seek pleasure as the respite. This only furthers the illusion that lasting peace can be found in half of the pleasure/pain dichotomy. The more you depend on one and avoid the other the more trapped you are in illusion. The way out is to realize that they are one – the pleasure/pain coin – and to toss the coin away. When you’re free from the concept, you can pick the side of the coin you’d like to experience without being enslaved to it or its opposite.
Pleasure keeps us more securely in illusion than pain. Pain is the easy half of the illusion to see through. It sends us seeking for something better. Sometimes it prompts us to chase pleasure, other times to pursue enlightenment; we flee from it either way. But pleasure is the more seductive illusion. It does not make us run. We desire to keep it when we have it, not flee from it. But pleasure is illusion. It is pain. Many have told themselves that pain is an illusion. Less commonly do people convince themselves that pleasure is an illusion too. People misconstrue pain as the only real thing because it exists even if we fight it. No one believes pleasure is the only real thing because we cannot retain it even when we try. But we pursue it like it is.
Rarely is one able to indulge in every pleasure he desires, only to be driven to disillusionment by the emptiness of such indulgences. If one could indulge everything he would quickly discover the hollowness of pleasure. The kings of old faced this problem; we often hear fables of unhappy kings, depressed despite the instant gratification of all desires, looking for something real in it all. Most of us cannot instantly acquire every pleasure we desire; thus we are able to deceive ourselves into thinking that pleasure would always bring happiness if we could just get what is denied to us. As long as pleasures exist that we have not yet exhausted, our ultimate disillusionment is postponed. But it awaits us inevitably because pleasure is illusion.
This is the lesson of all great spiritual teachers: don’t dwell on pain, don’t chase pleasure. Your true being lies beyond these illusions. Neither is real; the ultimate reality is one.
So as I sit comfortably in my home I remind myself that my pleasure is not real – the presence within is real. Peace is within me in all situations. I do not rely on these pleasurable circumstances.
These and many other enlightened words flood through my mind, yet I ultimately remain grateful for more favorable circumstances and eager to have a more comfortable meditation. Hey, I’m not a master; let’s just go with it.
I sit in a meditative posture. Timer is set for one hour.
Presence is with me immediately. But I feel like I want more of it. I am striving for deeper bliss. How do I get it? Now I am losing the bliss I have. How do I get it back? Why am I losing my awareness in this meditation? I’m less than twenty minutes in and I’m getting frustrated. I wanted more, not less.
I take a second to relax and calm down. In a moment of realization I see how hard I’m trying. I see how much I’m wanting. Perfection is the condition of my being; I don’t need to try anything. I don’t need to want anything. I give up on want and a wall comes down. Here it is; it’s back. It was here the whole time; I left to go out looking for it. I realize fully the relevance of Papaji’s famous command, “Call off the search!”
Strangely, I resist letting go of want for a few minutes. Want has fueled my search up to this point. But like a rocket leaving the earth, my fuel tank must break off as I leave the pull of gravity or it will impede my ascent. I move effortlessly now under my own power. Want got me this far, but it’s time to let it go.
The rest of my meditation is weightless and timeless. My timer rings. My bliss follows me into the day. Not wanting is the new wanting.