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  • Andrew Lewis


Some time ago I came across this:

'The story is told of a highly skilled Monopoly player who once drew a comparison between the game and life itself: 'You know, this is a great game, but when it is all over with, the pieces just go back in the box. Amass your property, your hotels, your wealth, your accomplishments, your awards, your whatevers, and eventually it will all be over with and those pieces go back in the box. And all you are left with is how you lived your life.'

Much of our time is spent in this type of activity. Life is busy, stimulating, full of goals and ambitions. There is nothing wrong and something inevitable about this. Yet we are all familiar with the yearning, the hope that 'there must be something more'. Is life just about racing along on the hamster wheel until it's time for all the pieces to go back in the box? 'There's got to be more!' we say as we stare into the nihilistic void.

In one of his songs Paul Simon sings 'We work at our jobs, collect our pay, believe we're gliding down the highway, but in fact we're slip slidin' away'.

Is there something more to our experience, our existence?

Yes, there is something more. It is everywhere and therefore nowhere in particular. It is the discovery that we can transcend the self, connecting with something deeper and greater, something that shifts and transforms the very ground of being. We may ask, 'How do we experience this and what does it mean?' Such questioning is not settled with an answer. Rather, it evaporates, or dissolves into a deeper level of consciousness where there is no one who is doing any asking. There are no words. There is a selfless transcending that brings liberation from words, from conscious ego driven thoughts, from anything that can be given shape, form, weight, description.

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein wrote, 'Whereof one cannot speak, Thereof one must remain silent.'

Krishnamurti said ' When the mind is free from hoping, searching, finding, without any motive, then that which is nameless comes into being.'

The Tao Te Ching begins with the words, 'The Tao that can be told is not The Tao. The name that can be named is not The name.'

Edward Hopper wrote 'If you could say it in words there'd be no need to paint.'

This selfless transcending happens during meditation practice, often, but not always and not only in such practice. Through meditation we can discover that there is an inner being separate in some way from the 'self that is doing all the thinking'. It is not burdened with conceptual elaboration or emotional reactivity. It grasps at nothing, flees from nothing, owns or keeps nothing. It does not analyse or evaluate. Through the silence, stillness and simplicity of meditation practice, the quiet mind and the quiet body create space for the unfolding of awareness, for an expansion of consciousness and a nourishment of spirit.

This has to be experienced rather than described. It is not something that happens at our impatient command because there is no one trying, no one anticipating, no one striving. There is just 'pure being' and the 'doing' self has dissolved. This means that we don't meditate in order to gain something, to accrue some benefit from the practice. There is no agenda.

Nevertheless benefits arrive! Benefits that are not personalised or exclusively possessed, but grow out of some deep connection with the essence and way of things as they truly are. Acceptance, awareness and inner peace grow. One thing we may see more clearly is that the primary cause of our unhappiness and suffering is often not a particular situation, but our thoughts about it. This insight can empower us to bring compassion and positive agency to the situation rather than become helpless victims. This is just one way in which the practice becomes practical.

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