Today I am inspired by the neti neti meditation. From Hinduism, neti neti is translated to mean “not this, not this.” When one practices neti neti, one consciously disassociates with all that appears in the field of experience. The neti neti meditation frees the identity of the practitioner of from the things that he is not, allowing him to realize what he is.
This is one of the paths to realizing your ultimate identity. But the ultimate identity is not dual, that is, it is not a concept with an opposite. It would be a mistake to come to the conclusion that you are nothing because nothing has an opposite – something. You are part of an ultimate reality that is non-dual; it transcends opposites. It is both nothing and all things, or neither nothing nor all things.
Because the ultimate reality is non-dual, you can approach it from opposite ends: you can take the neti neti path to realize your nothingness – or – you can take the path of love and inclusion to realize Self in all things. When you realize yourself as nothing, all things suddenly exist within you. When you realize yourself as all things, you are suddenly beyond any thing in particular. You can come from the inside to the outside, or the outside to the inside.
I will use both approaches in today’s meditation. I set my timer for one hour. I assume a meditative posture and push start.
I settle in and start the neti neti meditation. I start with whatever springs first into my awareness. I feel a pain in my hip – I am not the the body. I see thoughts dancing before my mind’s eye – I am not my thoughts. I feel a pulsing motion in my chest and torso. It feels like desire to act or expectation to receive – I am not my desire.
Things begin to get very quiet and still. I am aware of stillness – but I am not the stillness. I see darkness – but I am not the darkness. There is nothing left. I see nothing – but I am not nothing.
In a flash I disappear completely. All the remains is all that I am. It is exactly what the Tao speaks of in verse 6:
Lingering like gossamer, it has only a hint of existence;
And yet when you draw upon it, it is inexhaustible.
There arises a sensation of limitlessness – of complete freedom. I stay with it as long as I can, but each time I cling to it I must remind myself – I am not this. Nor this. With each renunciation new joy well up within me, or, more accurately, I lose myself in the sea of bliss. My limited identity is what has always hidden this experience from me.
I hit the halfway mark and decide to switch gears. I will now try the opposite path: I will accept all things as self.
I begin again with whatever presents itself to my awareness. I am very subdued already, so nothing jumps out immediately. I hear a dog bark in the distance – that is me calling to myself from a distance. I feel the pain again in my hip – that is me acting on myself. I see more thoughts and feel more feelings – these are me dancing with the space that is also me. There is nothing in my field of awareness that is not me.
I am filled with a completely different sensation. Warmth and security fill me up; a sense of belonging envelopes me. There is a feeling of returning home. I am that, and that, and that, until I am all things. And yet at this moment I feel suspended in the nothing from the neti neti meditation.
These two sensations combine into one seamless reality. It is still and firm, equally present. When the timer rings and I open my eyes I am instantly filled with a wholeness that floods through me and into the room.
On day 13, I cited Nisargadatta Maharaj as claiming that wisdom is knowing that you are nothing; love is knowing that you are all things. A master moves seamlessly between wisdom and love. Hopefully I can achieve that in this lifetime.