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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mindfulness

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness Meditation is a practice of being fully and attentively present in the moment. Some think this must be done seated on the floor, which is silly. One can be standing (limited by fatigue), or lying down (sleepiness may set in), though a seated position may be best for extended (more than a few minutes) sessions. There are reports of negative reactions to mindfulness meditation, especially with group meditation.

Mindfulness and anatta really come to the same when one becomes mindful of being nothing. Anatta is to mindfulness as melody is to rhythm. Mindful observation of anything does not require one who is mindful. All it requires is the mere faculty of knowing. Meditation should not stop when one overcomes illusion. Mindfulness is a prerequisite of anatta. In my case, sitting in my garage (the only quiet place), I was sitting, mindful of the feeling of self. Every time "I" would experience something (any quality at all, even space), I would view that objectively, from the vantage point of nowhere (perception does not require one who perceives). Then something happened: I became freshly (but still objectively) aware of my heart. Strong bliss happened. It has yet to stop.

Just be not is my favorite approach to overcoming illusion. When you're not, you're everything! I most often notice bliss when I am not, which equates to silence.

There are no levels of attainment. Illusion is not overcome gradually, though insights that may be dependent on this will occur over time. It is also useful to note that habits of mind change only gradually, and unevenly.


The first illusion to drop away is the notion of selfhood which (slowly in my case) ceases to dominate the psyche (accompanied by less mental chatter). Once selfhood truly disappears for even a second (most likely while doing a boring or simple task), the grip of illusion has been loosed: welcome home!. The notion of no-self then occurs while doing slightly more complicated tasks, or while mentally listening to a well known bit of music. Volition is best not considered as causal: Anatta happens due to a modification of attention such as fascination. These moments of clarity may appear to increase in number and duration.

Then, in sort of a resulting cascade, one sees less of separate individual selves (souls) walking around. Now one can really see that there is no such thing as an unenlightened individual (corollary: the real, deep-down you is the entire universe). Blame, guilt and karma no longer make sense. Right versus wrong, and the right-left fight over morality are seen with clear-headed dispassion.  Pain loses it’s sting (the sage no longer identifies with his suffering), death is no longer scary , and it is only now. There is eternal nothingness (not eternity) with momentary self and without self.

Benefits of anatta include enhanced insight, leading to increased fascination with art that is transcendent. Examples from music include Beethoven's opus 130, 131, and 132, as well as his Ninth Symphony. One may consider such music to be second only to silence, the most transcendent of all.

Everything is constantly so amazing in the midst of anatta. I mean, all this stuff! All this animation, all this life! It's such a trip to be watching life go on, watching meditation happen, even watching gasps due to sudden temperature change in the shower (autistic sensory issues).

Much ado, particularly in Eastern spirituality, is made of "non-attachment". Devotees invoke "neti, neti" (not this, not this!). Usually implied is attachment of mind to concepts. It is true that preoccupation with concepts tends to obscure that which is Real. But it is the mind's nature to latch onto concepts - so let it latch onto anatta. Mindfully watch this happen, knowing that mind is not self.

Pursuing the notion of diving into self (as suggested by Ramana Maharshi), "I" was, for years not "doing it" mindfully: not watching the diving. That is perhaps the most sure-fire way of coming to understand "this is it": there is, after all, no phenomena to be found as a result of diving into self. All "phenomena" is "what is". This diving is, after all, secondary to quietness of mind, achievable via anatta.

Some proclaim self as witness. Is it? Who is watching the witness? The witness is appearing, or being, on the screen of non-beingness. It is from there, beyond the reach of concepts, that we know being witness,that we perceive the prior sense of self.


A fun little approach is to, immediately upon laying down, say to oneself “this is it”. Knowing that after that final imaginary “t” sound, there is only awareness which is it. “It”, of course, is that awareness without an object of which mystics speak. The memory of this may be recalled as not having been produced by any sort of volition. All action and thought and story telling rests in that awareness. Arrive at the other shore by knowing that this (anything that is perceived) is not self.

I have found bliss to be different than most think. I experience bliss as a thickening of the air, as though I am swimming is a sea of divine love/oneness with all (I am atheist). Sometimes, though, this spills over into a more overt high, similar to the experience of cannabis. Bliss can co-exist with any emotion, though negative emotions tend to get washed over with bliss, so they never last long. I am most likely to experience bliss when I am aware of anatta.

Some believe that keys to insight are more likely, or at least possible, to be found in ancient texts, the more ancient the better. Truth was the same then as now, but communication was tedious at best. What texts survive are those preserved by the powerful. Nondual teachers have no need of power or of proselytizing. What videos we have of the modern sage Ramana Maharshi are grainy and taken as though he was uninterested. And he wrote almost nothing. Contrast that with the crystal video revealings of Tony Parsons, Mooji, and the like. Only now do we enjoy a surfeit of illuminated text and video.

Many teachers labelled spiritual will claim that gains somewhere are inevitably balanced by losses elsewhere, sometimes called the zero-sum game. This concept is pernicious, and basically not true, no matter where it is found, be it politics or new-age mysticism. I mean, why not that most (bodies who believe they are souls) "people" agree that now is better than what we agree was 10 years ago - 20 years ago. Maintaining our charade as separate beings: go forth and do great and wonderful things!

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