Ultimately, we are told, meditation is samadhi, total relaxation in total awareness. And we have heard, “The kingdom of God is within,” “Be a light unto yourself.” But for most of us this is not our experience at this moment. It is only theoretical, philosophical, hypothetical.
So, in order to determine the validity of such statements, we have to take them only as a hypothesis, and we have to experiment scientifically.
All meditation techniques are scientific experiments to discover our own inner landscape. They are tools to remove the tensions that prevent a natural relaxed state and to return unawareness into its natural state of awakened consciousness.
To be able to enter into this scientific experiment, we must first put all the hypotheses aside. We have to look without prejudice and see for ourselves.
We begin by entering the inner body. We know the outer body. It is the body that we see in the bathroom mirror and mistakenly think is who we are. It is the body that is an image in our mind made up of what everyone else has said about it or how we imagine others see us.
But to enter the inner body, we must sense the body from the inside. We scan the body from the inside and discover any points of tension and make them objects of our awareness. We sense the body’s interiority and discover its wholeness as an object which appears within awareness.
With this strengthened awareness we watch the breath. We watch and follow the breath through its journey in and out of the body. We don’t try to manipulate the breath but just watch its movements. In watching the breath closely, we discover the turning points where breath moves from out to in and from in to out. In watching the totality of the movement of breath as an object, we discover that it too appears within awareness.
Next, we listen, first to the sounds around us, secondly to the thoughts passing by, and finally to our feelings. We listen to the sounds around us without rejecting them, without judging them. We watch the movements of the mind without judging, without analyzing, without rejecting, and without grasping. We feel the emotions and subtle moods, again, without judging, without analyzing, without rejecting, and without grasping. And through listening, we find that the objects of sound, thought, and feeling appear within awareness.
With each of these steps we feel that awareness has been strengthened when the reality is that the identification, the unawareness, has been reduced, revealing the underlying naturalness of awarefulness. Slowly, slowly we begin to bask more and more in this awarefulness without objects.
By our own scientific inquiry, we have shined the light unto ourselves and discovered that indeed the kingdom of God is within.
Now it is up to us to bring this awarefulness into our daily life, chopping wood, carrying water. And in those times that it seems difficult to be aware, we can return to any of the steps of this experiment whenever we wish, and rebuild our awarefulness.
This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.
2 thoughts on “An Experiment in Awarefulness”
What a timely post for me? Your postings are zen sticks to me!! Thx for sharing!! Padma
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So clear and so encouraging. The reminder to follow the steps again, starting at any point, so useful to plant in that place which helps when confusion reigns. Thank you. Beautiful.
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