by Barnaby B. Barratt
from the book The Way of the BodyPrayerPath
Our egotism is addictively attached to the judgmentalism of our chattering mind. So we struggle through our lives, coping with malice both internally and externally, and experiencing ourselves alienated from our own sexual-spiritual energies.
Human egotism is fear-based. It is terrified of the free-flow of our erotic energies, and chooses instead to live in the delusion that it could itself be secure and substantial. The judgmentalism of our chattering mind acts as if it could, by its incessant productivity, validate this sense of security and substantiality. Our egotism lives in the delusion that it could, by the compulsive repetitiousness of its judgmentalism, reign forever. By means of this attachment to itself -- its attachment to its own judgmental faculties -- our egotism temporarily wards off its own dissolution by obstructing the exuberance of erotic energies that flow within, through, and all around our human embodiment. In this manner, we struggle incessantly to refuse life’s invitation to surrender our egotism to the supreme flow of the universe. Our egotism is terrified to fall into alignment with the Sacred Unity, which is that of the truthfulness of Love.
Meditation is the spiritual practice that invites our egotism to surrender itself to the divinity of the lifeforce within us. This is the tantric way. It is the way of being that frees us from the incessant productivity of our judgmentalism. It is the process that dissolves our egotism and evaporates our attachment to its futile struggles and its delusionality. In this way, meditation accesses and opens us to the godliness that is the “light” in all that lives around us and within us, which is the supreme light of Love. Meditation is this process of living life on an existential path that realigns our being-in-the-world with the experience and the ethicality of the universe’s supreme vibration. It is an intensely aware process of experiencing the present as the presence of what is. Meditation brings us into the reality of the here-and-now in a way that releases us from the customary and compulsive operation of our judgmental faculties, which are always referentially attached to the representation of pasts and futures. Meditation is not a refinement of our judgmentalism, but a releasing of our being from our imprisonment in the preoccupations of judging and doing. It is neither an act of “deep thought,” nor an act of mindless, auto-hypnotic relaxation and silent stupefaction. Rather, meditation is a process of awareness -- of a consciousness that is sometimes called “mindfulness” -- that liberates us from our attachment to the chattering mind, and that emancipates our everyday experience from the tyranny of malice.
Meditation is profoundly dangerous to our egotism. To live in meditation is the most challenging path known to humanity, and the most courageous way to be. To live in meditation is to dwell adventurously in the timespace of releasing, expansion and openness. It is to live in the present and in the presence of our experience – instead of living in our egotism’s representations of a past to which we hang back or a future to which we push forward. To dwell at this adventurous edge of life is to invite our egotism toward its dissolution, and to enter the realm of life’s potential to bring us into joy, bliss, and ecstasy. As we live at our edge, we move into meditation, and as we do so we find that our experiences shift profoundly. We shift from conventional knowing, to unknowing, and then to mystical knowing.
Before meditation, our egotism is desperately attached to the “knowledge” accrued by its judgmentalism. By means of acquiring this knowledge, our egotism knows that it knows something, and therefore believes it knows that it itself exists. Our chattering mind chatters only by means of this conventional “wisdom.” Our egotism is fundamentally a quite paranoid accretion of judgments generated by our social surroundings. Its “knowledge” is not only of science, but also of religion as well as cultural and personal myth. It is the knowledge inscribed in all our stories about our world and ourselves. It is the system of representations -- of the various networks of languages, signs and meanings -- in which we live. This has been called the “thetic” or “identitarian” world of representational thinking, in which we firmly believe that “this is this,” and that “x” can never be identical with “not-x.” This is the world of all the logical and rhetorical devices by which we do things. It is a world sustained by what has been called the “compulsive repetitiousness” of our chattering mind*.
Most of us live mindlessly in this world just because it appears given to us “as is.” However, when our thinking is turned against itself, as when we turn inwards to serious reflection and contemplation, we engage in a salutary critique of our own ideologies. The reflective turn in which we think about thinking – as is developed in philosophy, the physics and psychoanalysis – tends to make us realize that everything we take to be the case is actually very much a matter of our representations. Reflection tends to erode our egotism’s sense of certainty about itself. Neither logic nor rhetoric has firm foundations. Contemporary “postmodern” tendencies in the culture of western thinking from the “new sciences” to deconstructive psychoanalysis -- join ancient traditions of mystical vision in finding that there is ultimately neither security nor stability to be had in the domain of language and thought. Sooner or later, the logic and rhetoric with which our chattering mind “validates” its existence lead us to the abyss.
As we move into meditation, we come to realize that everything our egotism holds to be true is really quite arbitrary. What we had taken as “knowledge” is merely a matter of our egotism’s representational construction. The “world” as we know it – in the conventional sense of knowing – is a matter of our belief that “a is a” and that “a is not b.” Our chattering mind constructs a “world” of meanings for us based on the compulsive repetition of such representations. We live in this world of identities, positions, and stories -- the delusional world of mãya. This “world” we live in is founded both on categories -- either/or, present/absent, good/bad, pleasure/pain, life/death, me/not-me -- that we place in a hierarchy of “better” or “worse,” and on a phenomenology that divides everything into past/present/future. This leaves us stranded in a delusional “present” that is always the re-presented present of pasts and futures, which do not exist here-and-now. As we move into meditation the bottom falls out of this edifice, and we fall into the abyss. Moving into meditation, we fall into the presence of reality. We fall into the realization of the void, the emptiness that pervades everything that is and is not.
When our egotism falls apart, we fall into unknowing as we come to realize the ecstatic emptiness of the here-and-now. Freed of all pasts and futures, meditation brings us into a timespace that is radically existential and experiential. We realize that this present is all that is, containing all possible “pasts” and “futures,” and we realize that this here and-now is joyously empty. It is the desire that moves all things, animating both being and nonbeing. It is “in” but not “of” the world, “in” but not “of” our own bodymind. Falling into meditation, we realize not only that everything is interconnected through the emptiness of this universal desire, but also that all we had once categorized as dichotomously separate is not. What is present is always already an absencing; what is absent is always already here-and-now. In our heart, we are one heart.
If we glimpse meditation but remain in the identitarian world of our egotism’s representations, the meditator might appear nihilistic, merely detached from the conventional knowing of the world, and floating in arbitrariness. Life appears merely to become aleatory – as if we might as well conduct it by the throw of dice. But this unconventional freedom of “going with the flow” is not actually nihilism at all. Rather, it is the process of meditation moving us out of inauthentic “knowing.” It is the process in which our egotism is deconstructed and dissolved, through transgression and transcendence. What might appear nihilistic is, sooner or later, the deep realization of Love.
For our egotism, Love is a catastrophe. So for our egotism to sustain itself, it is imperative that it keeps us out of the mystical depth and esoteric power of living in meditation. Our egotism is very clever and cunning in this enterprise. For example, it is a distractive trick of our egotism to imagine that “meditation” is some sort of special mental device or technique that might reinvigorate the productivity of our chattering mind.
We do not need a mat to meditate. We do not need a cabin by the ocean, or a hut in the Himalayas. We do not need candles, incense, or the chiming of temple bells. Nor do we need exotic wavelengths piped through high-tech equipment. We do not need training in the chanting of mantras, or in the contemplation of mandalas and other sacred images. We do not need psychedelics. Nor do we need to sequester ourselves in a monastery, shrine or temple. We do not need the authority of a priest, or even the blessing of a teacher.
It may be that, on occasion, such accoutrements and procedures are indeed helpful. But they are not essential. For meditation is not an intermittent event, nor is it a matter of mental trickery. Meditation is a life’s journey, not an occasional trip. It is a process or method involving the letting go of our egotistic addiction, and a surrendering to the divine flow of our being. In this process, the appearance of techniques, tricks and “helpful” devices is usually indicative of our egotism’s struggle to reassert itself.
Meditation is itself a movement of our being-in-the-world into a radically different timespace from that of our judgmental compulsivity, and as such we can fall into the divine spirit of meditation anytime and anywhere. So it is also a deceit of our egotism to insist that meditation requires some special procedure in a special time or in a special space. To fall into the timespace of meditation is not a process that can be sequestered into twenty minutes or an hour a day. Rather, to fall into the timespace of Love is to live fully and methodically in the spirit of meditation. This is a process of living to be engaged in every moment of life itself. It is an adventurous holistic process, passionately and compassionately engaging every aspect of our existence.
Meditation is this process of wholly releasing ourselves from the business and busyness of our chattering mind, until the chattering becomes quiet and our egotism evaporates into bliss. As such, it is the way of our enlightening. It is the process of falling into the deep silence, the ecstatic emptiness, the Sacred Unity that infuses and underlies every moment of life itself. Living in meditation, we divest ourselves from the alienating preoccupations of our chattering mind, and surrender ourselves to blossom in the spirit of our compassionate witnessing.
It is essential to cultivate our “Compassionate Witness.” The essence of meditation is allowing ourselves to fall into the arms of this Beloved that is within us. This is the Beloved of our heart’s desire. It is, so to speak, our individual moment of Holy Spirit, our access to the lifeforce that lives within us, the abundantly and exuberantly erotic energies that flow through us rendering our access to the Sacred Unity of Love.