Friday, November 1, 2013

Unconditioned Meditation – Part III

Many are the Oriental terms that in the West would be translated as “meditation”. We already saw a few and keep now searching for a deeper understanding of what “unconditioned meditation” might be. 
Certainly, in the East there are brilliant visions. Nevertheless, one does not need to look towards the Orient to find jewels. It is nowadays of paramount importance to connect with something that was lost, or should we say, remained dormant in the West, until the right time. 
Westerners should remember that a living Wisdom was once strongly present in Ancient Greece. Not the classical Greece of Plato and Aristotle, but an older one, covered by mists of confusion. 
By means of poems and riddles wise men of Hellas passed down an ancestral tradition whose central root is the flowering of a mindful Intelligence that unveils a stillness and infinite purity, a vastness behind the veil of moving forms. 

And given the allegoric nature of ancient thinking, such a gift of Intelligence was personified by Mêtis, goddess of counsel, craft and slyness, which propitiates the birth of Athena (Intelligence), from the head of Zeus, with as represented in the picture below.
Today this seem to us a complicated pagan riddle. Yet the research of Peter Kingsley came to shed light on it, showing how teachers like Empedocles were already hinting at the fact that the Mind of Light –personified as Mêtis, goddess of counsel– is the only way of living lucidly through the great Deception [1].

The key message of such an ancient Greek tradition is that never delusion makes more sense than when Mêtis is active. 
But let's avoid simplistic definitions of Mêtis and Mind –which, by the way, neurologists naïvely reduce to a brain function, without realizing that the brain cannot perceive itself. 

The mind discovered the structure of the atom, so the mind is more subtle than the atom –Ramana Maharshi.

And Intelligence is more subtle than the thinking mind, for it can unveil all its trickery.

In Empedocles poems it simply manifests as a divine intelligence that grows like a tree or a flower, feeding on the completeness of the present moment. Echoing his own words:
For humans, 
mêtis grows 
in relation to what is present [2] 
In this ancestral teaching, one does not despise the senses, as if they were the source of sinful delusions; on the contrary, the five senses are a gate leading to the intelligence or common sense that links them all, carrying one beyond distorted imagination.
Yet, warnings were also given, for the art of light-intelligence is not a path to be considered too lightly. She has its own power and can't be manipulated. A great paradox is that one can´t simply “decide” to contact such Light or “try to practice the art of intelligence" , for that is precisely a road of self-deception. Light is spontaneous, choiceless, or it is not at all.
There is only one thing in our hands, and that is attention to everything perceptible in the mind and senses: breath, heart pulse, sounds, the act of listening itself...letting mindful Intelligence work through oneself, unmasking hidden memories, emotions, impulses, false perceptions, not unlike insightful watchfulness of the Buddha.

It can emerge when we watch a feeling, listen to the wind, notice a sudden insight or a drop of water with all our heart, leaving the chatty mind behind.

And this act of allowing and illumining is really a high form of loving service, since it frees us and others from suffering.
We don´t even have to look for a specific location; all places are good for “giving up” and listening-feeling.  All perceptions are actually necessary bring light upon them.

Light-Intelligence adapts itself constantly to the ever-changing circumstances of life, making use of everything at hand to see through delusion, leading our steps, without being asked or even noticed. 

Life is full of coincidences and traumas which are but “hints” to discover the presence of invisible Light. 
In this sense, meditation can be seen as “measuring”  all perceptions on the unconditioned and invisible background of the Light of the Soul, the point that connects us to everything and the One. 

After all, the emerging and apparently disconnected objects of our experience are simply ripples on the serene ocean of Being. 
Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form 
(Sutra of the Heart)
Finding stillness through movement is indeed another quality of true Light, but that is something one can´t pursue directly. The art of Light requires looking at oneself first. 
With attention one can see all the personal experiences that mould the limited views of life, but it is Light what connects them to a much larger background, the infinite land of what we really are. 
In the presence of invisible Light, our falls, our moments of frustation and sorrow, suddenly become meaningful threads in the tapestry of Reality. 
All this appears simple and beautiful. However, the human mind has become so conditioned by self-conconcted fantasies that it is extremely hard for it to feel the simplicity of a deeper nature for long. 

We make all too complex. And most of the time it is because we don´t remember we are far more than thinking heads, or simply because “we try too hard” to attain something that, by its own nature, is ungraspable and belongs to what we never ceassed to be.
As we see, Light represents many qualities at once: counsel, prudence, right attitude, lucid vision...

And its power is even more needed in these days where everything is mixed up and undiscerned, even spirituality. 
Fortunately, all end meets its beginning. Our civilization was born with the Art of Mindfulness, and now, amidst its decadence, a reconnection is demanded in true listeners that have the courage to step out of an uncivilised social mass
Despite modern thinking is no longer allegoric and symbolic, much can still be learned from myths about these teachings. For example, it is not a coincidence that Odysseus was deemed to be skillful in mêtis.  But we leave that for the next post.

To go deeper into this art, it might be useful the ancient practice of incubation, about which you have an article here:

Incubation, a Western form of meditation, published on Abril 6 2009:

Copyright 2013 ©
[1] Reality is a nice book where Peter Kingsley has reflected deeply on this issue
[2] Ibid, p.512. More verses of Empedocles can be found in the section Sacred Poetry.

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