Our greatest fear is ourselves.
This is why laws and morality have taken such a hold on humanity.
What would we do if we weren’t told what to do? What would we do if we didn’t know what was good?
We don’t trust ourselves and so we don’t trust others; we are terrified on every level.
I’ve found that I don’t need to think about what to say or do before doing it. I just open my gob and let whatever comes out come out.
Sometimes I stutter and say something silly and that’s funny. Often the most beautiful utterances come out.
For example the other day at work I was wearing odd socks and someone pointed it out. Normally being socially anxious this would make me nervous.
But since I’ve been practicing mindfulness and meditation (which is basically the practice of ignoring the voice of fear in your head) I’ve found such things have ceased to embarrass me.
They were my mum’s socks I was wearing and the girl (A PRETTY GIRL MIND YOU!!!) said “I bet you wear your mum’s underwear too.”
And before I even knew what I was doing my face took on an expression of mock shock and the utterance “How do you know so much about me?” came (perfectly timed) out of my gob and she was in hysterics!!!
It was beautiful!
Fear is the mechanism of deception. The world is waiting for you to grow a pair and blossom!
There are many things that meditation is good for. Calming the mind, dis-empowering the internal dialogue, and allowing oneself to see matters clearly without the baggage of emotions. One of the most beneficial effects of meditation is the ability to let go. It wouldn’t be a lie to say that the practice of meditation is the practice of letting go.
So as we all know in meditation – at least the meditation I practice – all that is done is that the attention is placed onto an object and whenever it is realized that the attention has wandered it is brought back to the object.
So where is the letting go? I hear you ask. Well when your attention has wandered it always clings to something. The more distracted you are the more your mind is clinging to something. That is why it is easier to bring your attention back to the anchor if it has only wandered onto something relatively boring like trying to remember what you ate yesterday. When it has wandered to a more appetizing realm like sex, food or how miserable you are then it is harder to bring back.
Often you can tell how much your mind is clinging to something by how long it takes you to realize it has been distracted (though this can also be caused by being full or eating sugary foods I have found).
What you call “difficulty” is really nothing other than the battle that takes place within you between two wants. On the one hand you want to do the practice but on the other hand you want to continue fondling those imaginary boobies. By bringing your attention back to anchor you are letting go of that desire.
Enlightenment can be seen as the complete letting go of everything. This doesn’t mean that nothing happens or that you no longer exist. It just means that you are totally passive in the face of everything. Whatever arises is fine.
See I believe that enlightenment is incredibly easy to grasp on an intellectual level. It is the cessation of suffering. That sentence is no harder to comprehend than the sentence “Peas are green”. The difficulty comes when we try to envisage what it would “feel” like to be enlightened. This is because we always place ourselves as we are into that picture and if we are suffering then suffering is so seemingly intrinsic to us that we cannot imagine it away. A blind person could understand on an intellectual level the sentence about peas but they couldn’t know what it felt like to see green peas.
Suffering is caused by clinging which is another way of saying wanting. The fundamental thing we cling to is our wants. We always hold out for our desires no matter how miserable not having them makes us or how unlikely it is that we we will get what we want. Even when we do get what we want and are satisfied for a bit but eventually return to Dukkha (suffering) we still hold out for that one want that when satiated will satisfy.
Fasting seems to be quite a powerful spiritual practice. I think this is because by denying the body food you are working on craving at it’s most fundamental level.
All suffering is caused by desire or wanting. You suffer because you either want something to happen that isn’t happening or you don’t want something to happen that is happening. It all comes down to addiction. We are all addicted to getting what we want whether that is food, drugs, entertainment, or not-being-hurt.
I think that because food is such a fundamental need that all other desire is derived from it. Therefore by denying yourself food you are working on desire in all its forms.
Hunger pangs are good as anchors. When you are fasting and are being attacked by the desire for food meditate upon the physiological manifestations of that hunger which are the hunger pangs. After a while you will be able to disconnect the hunger pangs from the desire for food. The hunger pangs become phenomena, stuff that is happening like any other stuff that is happening. This is liberating because now you are no longer dominated by them. No longer must you act in a particular way because your belly grumbles.
I’ve also found that by using hunger as a spiritual practice it stops becoming something that causes me to be antsy. Instead – because I become mindful of the hunger – it stimulates peace.
Also fasting is healthy. According to a Horizon documentary I watched recently when you fast your body stops replacing cells and starts healing them. That is of course if done properly. I’ve only been doing fasts of 24 hours every Saturday for the last few weeks and I’ve noticed I’ve been feeling generally better for the rest of the week.
In a fast I find that there are periods of clarity where I experience a peace and stillness far greater than that which I normally experience and periods where I am shaking and feel quite low. I think this is another one of the reasons why fasting is such a powerful spiritual practice and is a practice in almost all spiritual traditions.
The samsara, the oscillation from pleasant to unpleasant is more noticeable when one is fasting. It occurs at a quicker rate. This shows us the temporary nature of pain and pleasure. Now I am feeling very hungry, my belly is hurting but 5 minutes ago I was alert and felt serene. That is the lesson of life being taught far more frequently than usual.