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Meditation Reflections

“In order to be full, we must be empty. If our emptiness is total, we become supremely fulfilled.”

~ Robert Rabbin

Over the past few weeks, I’ve explored to some length meditation on emptiness. Although I’ve dabbled into this question on and off, I was recently inspired by comments on the Heart Sutra by Ken McLeod. I was inspired by the vision that form is emptiness…a fact that I have taken for fact for some time, but within McLeod’s words, I saw a glimpse into something more elusive – the predominance of emptiness above all.

Form is emptiness; emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form; form is not other than emptiness. In the same way, feeling, concept, mental formation, and consciousness are emptiness.

~ Ken McLeod

This observation coincided with the lessons from the aikido mat, where I was struggling (and continue to struggle) with reducing, if not seeking to eliminate, an over-intellectualization of my practice. Non-attachment, detachment from all, complete relaxation – all practices aimed at reaching no-mind, no space, nothingness – just being.  Takuan Soho said it best, when he articulated it as follows:

“The effort not to stop the mind in just one place – this is discipline. Not stopping the mind is object and essence. Put it nowhere and it will be everywhere. Even in moving the mind outside the body, if it is sent in one direction, it will be lacking in nine others. If the mind is not restricted to just one direction, it will be in all ten.”

~ Takuan Soho

Put the mind nowhere and it will be everywhere. So the following thought came to me: what if “nowhere” was “nothingness”? What if the stillness, silence, needlessness in emptiness was “nowhere”. Rather than think of “nowhere” in the material sense, I wondered how my practice could evolve if I re-defined “nowhere” as “nothingness”, “emptiness”?

What if practice led us to notice that all happens within this stillness and silence – within nothingness and “nowhere”. What if practice led us to see all our thoughts, mental secretions and consciousness as products that float and are carried by emptiness, nothingness?

What if practice led us to observe all of our words as existing within an eternal, endless silence and emptiness?

What if practice led us to become fully mindful or our actions and movements occurring within eternal, infinite space and time – boundless, timeless emptiness, nothingness?

What if practice brought us to an awareness of everything, all things, all moments, all, existing within infinite, empty, nothingness.

What if practice brought us to an observation that love happens within this space – O’Sensei’s definition of love – a definition not dependent on external conditions, matter or time?

“What is absolute love? Love without an object is absolute love. Love means unity of perception and action.”

~ Kenjiro Yoshigasaki

Over the past few weeks, I have begun to visualize emptiness, nothingness, and have found two sources that have been interesting to say the least, and insightful in creating a sense of the emptiness and nothingness that is our existence.

The first is the Power of Ten video. Although dating back from years now, this classic video revealed the extent to which our universe, internal and external, is, for all intents and purposes, eternal, infinite, endless. It also demonstrated in the most sobering way that most if not all of it is emptiness – nothingness, “nowhereness”.

A second source was a website entitled Cosmic View – the universe in 40 jumps. Although similar to the Power of Ten video in message and method of presentation, one notable exception was when it introduced the nature of our self at the most smallest.  Of particular note: -6 was the most revealing to me – which presented the space between the nitrogen and oxygen molecules that compose the air we breathe. In short – what is the space, the emptiness, the nothingness between the molecules?

This space, this nothingness, this emptiness is the same space that fills the atoms which compose our very being and world; the same space that fills the gap between the endless galaxies and solar systems that is our eternal universe.

With these images as guides, meditating on emptiness then becomes meditating on the eternal, the endless, the boundless infinite space and time that is the “nowhereness”, the nothingness of all reality.  Meditating on infinite nothingness brings one’s practice to a point where the self and all meld; where space becomes boundless, within which all form can manifest and no longer manifest; where time is irrelevant for nothingness is timeless and permanent.

Knowing emptiness is to know that which is within our self, and within all other things. Knowing nowhere is to know all that is possible – past, present and future. Knowing nothing is knowing ‘no-thing’ – knowing that which is eternal, infinite and timeless – within which all is, and is not.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

~ Socrates

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Art distills sensations and embodies it with enhanced meaning.

~ Miguel de Unamuno

reflections from a recent meditation session…

a feeling of pressure and entrainment carries me on an almost unconscious level. like being in a running river, life jacket well cliped on, but being entrained nonetheless. it is a feeling, a physical feeling.

sensations in the body can be the root of our actions, our behaviors, our feelings. what if the sensations were so pervasive, and so interlinked with our thinking patterns that we had created an endless closed loop?  like gravity, you cannot know the feeling of not having it unless you go out of your way to eliminate it, or happen to experience by accident, the absence of it, if even for one moment. no amount of reading, re reading and research can substitute for the experience itself – experience, fully lived, can shift ones thinking – ones view of the moment. mindset is not changed by lectures and words – although they have served the purpose in some instances – but by experiences that shift the sensations in the body even for a second.

so how to know what of my thinking creates the sensations of being in a rushing river? when sitting, the imagined fear creates the same sensations as the real fear, acute, localized and real sensations.

“Do not look upon this world with fear and loathing. Bravely face whatever the gods offer.”

~ Morihei Ueshiba

but what if the overall sensations were so pervasive, ubiquitous and transparent that we don’t even realize or are aware that they are the result of our thinking? not the result of real experiences – the result of our thinking!

thinking that is not only conscious – but more insidious, our unconscious thinking!! those scripts that run in the background that keep the conscious scripts running. if sitting reveals the effect that our conscious thinking can have on our physical sensations, can sitting reveal our unconscious scripts and thoughts?

if sitting seeks to tune into the vibrations at all levels, then only through deep listening can the unconscious script be observed, and maybe even heard.

listen, deeply, and follow where the mind flows. the conscious can be swayed by the unconscious, but the unconscious cannot sway ki. ki leads all – conscious through the unconscious.

ki, coming, going or sitting still for a moment, leads the mind (conscious, through the unconscious), which leads the body (sensations, movement, speech, glance and attention).  if the mind, both conscious and unconscious, overtake the moment, ki can be taken, directed externally and lead the body.

if your spirit – the realm of ki – is immature, or undertrained, having succumbed to the mind’s power and strength, then our ki is at risk to being taken and moved. our mind is a vicious adversary, one that will never hesitate to grab the upper hand at any time.

In extreme situations, the entire universe becomes our foe; at such critical times, unity of mind and technique is essential – do not let your heart waver!

~ Morihei Ueshiba

training the spirit to give, take and hold ki, will prevent it from being taken by anything, anyone, or any moment. even the mind then becomes no different than any other antagonist – one to be watched, observed, listened and gently asked to play the role it plays – not one of spirit, but one of mind – the master of the body and its biological functions.

watch your mind, conscious and unconscious, always attempting to control ki through taking, sending or holding it.

in some instances, the mind can mimic or even pretend to be the spirit. do not fall spell to this trick. you will know that the mind is mimicking the spirit by the quality of the body. the mind cannot mimic the spirit without the body being engaged. the body will show signs of engagement, of attachment, and will prevent ki from flowing as a result of the background tension that resides. when the spirit is truly present, the five principles manifest, for coordination of mind body and spirit has manifested.

your own mind is your deadliest enemy. your body is the mind’s accomplice. your spirit, with ki as the currency, is truth and life. train the spirit, and ki will be tamed. tame ki, and the mind will no longer be autonomous in its decisions and actions. tame the mind, and the body and its many manifestations as inputs and outputs – manifestations from the mind (movement, glance, listening, touching, speaking and thoughts) – and manifestations from outside (sounds, light, sensations, thoughts, taste and smells) become just that – manifestations.

Always keep your mind as bright and clear as the vast sky, the great ocean, and the highest peak, empty of all thoughts. Always keep your body filled with light and heat. Fill yourself with the power of wisdom and enlightenment.
~ Morihei Ueshiba