Submerging intellect into perfect stillness is like learning to swim. It is only after learning not to panic in the water that a swimmer subconsciously controls function of the lungs, slowing breathing, enabling one to remain underwater for prolonged periods of time. The ability to hold one’s breath as a swimmer is similar to meditating. The effort leads to deeper waters where one moves gracefully through maddening currents.
In an age of busy minds tapped into circuits of tiny gadgets, in a world made of mostly seas that are falling apart, it seems likely that the insane floods of Noah will soon wash over. Like Noah, some know to build an arc.
Here, on Earth, man finds just a taste of quietude for his rushing mind through ‘hard work’, performing menial tasks and conceptualizing with intellectual thought. We keep the true power of our minds chained to illusions of success when in reality we have drowned our only destiny. Below the surface of the mad sea alongside where we all reside, there is a volcano that erupts. The lava, like gold on earth, is priceless on the next leg of our journey. To get there, one must stop the mind.
Here, where mind is free to indulge untrained and without a lifesaver, we rarely go beneath the surface of the water of constant thought. The devil has sown thorny bushes in our ambitions, preventing us from meditating as we should.
Man finds just a taste of quietude for his rushing mind through hard work, menial tasks and intellectual thought. There are but a few who still, through intense discipline, manage to disrupt the thought process and merge with the essence of what is warm joy found in a small flame at the very core of our nature.
This was the path of ancient mystics. The Desert Fathers were faithful men who had abandoned the rush of society to find solitude in fasting and simply not thinking. The hermits were master shepherds of this hidden valley that many writers through the ages have described as ‘still waters’ or ‘pleasant pastures.’
We have lost this promised land, but there are few still on the path.
A former co-worker taught me a meditation technique that has enabled me to reach what seems at times to be that place internally where one is set free of life’s worries, where God communes with the soul. I simply jump into an endless abyss– an ocean of sorts– a quiet sea where not even the thought of breathing or a higher being disrupts perfect stillness that is all.
Recently, after I had remained ‘still’ intellectually for well over a half hour or so, I reached a place of light similar to the state one obtains while reading and being ‘drawn-in’ by the author, although there is no story. I see now there is no return to the mundane world. This secret place is dangerous considering we live in such an ‘active-world’ where almost everyone is a writer on tiny machines.
I believe this place is where one gathers fruit for eternal life and where virgins fill lamps, awaiting to be taken to the bridal chamber by none other than Jesus himself– this thoughtless chamber.
Joanne Gottlieb, a friend at the job who has spent years psychoanalyzing others in her role as a certified therapist conducted a class on Yoga and meditation for the staff at the Youth Counseling League a few months before I was fired from there.
We cleared the meeting room of tables and chairs and took off our shoes. It was there, sitting in a lotus position of sorts where Joanne Gottlieb showed me the path to enlightenment. Joanne had to stop her instruction in the downward facing dog pose to hand me a cushion to place under my buttocks. Flexibility in my legs was poor. When I attempted to sit cross-legged my knees nearly touched my cheeks. When the room quieted down, Gottlieb asked the group to close their eyes and imagine being inside a large white room.
“Take whatever thought is around at this moment and place it inside the small door on the white wall next to you,” Gottlieb instructed. Gottlieb’s boyish, highly-flexible body was out of physical view because my eyes were closed, but yet I felt her in a bright room next to me. Next to me on a bright white wall was a door. The passageway was hardly visible to the naked eye. I nearly stepped through it before being stopped by my yoga instructor.
“Now that every thought and worry is behind the door, shut it quickly and return your presence in here where it is quiet.”
Something was on my mind that day, although, because I placed that thought into a little door that continued to shrink and vanish into a white wall as Gottlieb had informed, I no longer recall what it was, but the lesson was learned, I’m sure of it.
It is a blessing to learn to forget everything and remain free from even a random thought, but it takes years for just one moment nirvana to pass over our busy selves as we sit for hours in total quietude, meditating after not eating all day.
The light is there, so is a fog and a river and beyond that, there are patches of lush vegetation and islands of sand with palm trees that go on for as long as one fails to properly meditate while thinking about what’s on the other side of that door. Soon, one returns here where there are no thoughts at all and everything is perfectly still.
There are shortcuts. Our minds are so full of random thoughts. Learning to stop thinking takes more than a door in a wall though. One must experiment with intellectual visions created during moments of reflection when thoughts nearly come to an end, but simply do not. It’s nearly impossible to think of absolutely nothing– even for an instant. Find a path that works– one that causes thinking to cease.
I have my own passage to that place where my mind can breathe under water. It is not a door, but a window where thoughts escape on their own. I have broken the glass. It remains open even when I’m not in prayer there. I enjoy the fresh air.
I wonder if Joanne knows who broke it but quickly banish the thought of her by sending an impulse of love her way.