Any form of meditation, consciousness is not the thing-in-itself; it can never be. Deliberate attempts of meditation are not meditation. Meditation must occur; it cannot be invited. Meditation is not the play of the mind nor the desire or pleasure. Any attempt to meditate is the same denial. Just realize what you’re thinking and doing and nothing more. The view and the listen are the to do, without reward or punishment. The skill in doing lies in the skill in view, in the listening. All forms of meditation inevitably leads to deception, to illusion, since the desire is blind. It was a beautiful afternoon and the soft light of spring covered the earth.
When your mind experiences the state of void of not thinking about anything in specific, devoid of both constructs of mind and clarity of notes without effort the nature of that which gives an account of that state. When you do, there is pure consciousness, non-dual (rigpa), without concepts, completely open, free of internal and external, as a sky limpid and bright. In this pure consciousness there is no duality between experient and experienced, and yet it is possible to have the clear conviction that your true nature is not more than this.
-Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Here renouncing any concept, wrapped entirely in the intangible and the invisible, one belongs completely to him who is beyond everything. Here, being neither oneself nor someone else, one reaches the supreme union with the completely unfamiliar through the inactivity of all knowledge, and he can know beyond the mind by knowing nothing.
Pseudo-Dionysius, The Mystical Theology
Be still, and know that I am God.
Central part of the modern condition is the mobility, being always doing something, always tailored to your individual needs. There is to be productive. There is that they consume so that the economy can continue to grow. There is more to learn and give us to continue to grow as individuals and be able to compete. Look for more stimuli to keep us busy with something. This generates a frenzy, even a disorder of attention at the global level, as suggested by the meditation teacher Alan Wallace.
Maybe this go and come running always behind objects and their stimuli -wanting to be, at least virtually, in all parts without lose of nothing (digifrenia called Douglas Rushkoff)- is one of the reasons why anxiety is a mental illness that has grown in the last few decades. The theorist of media Marshall McLuhan, and the poet W. H. Auden, in fact, they called ahead to our era the age of anxiety, among the many possible definitions, this is not the less appropriate -though as is clear after reading the Thoughts of Pascal this concern, this not be comfortable in silence, without doing “anything”, is something that has characterized the human being for centuries at least. The Nobel prize winner in economics Herbert Simon had suggested in 1971 that in a world so rich in information, there was necessarily a lack: of attention, because this is what consumes the information. So related, in an era with so much information and so many stimuli -in an economy that capitalizes on the attention that it captures, and therefore is responsible for providing each more ingenious means of capture – we have to have individuals addicted to these stimuli, eager for a new dose (to check your mail, see how many likes they received, refresh the screen every minute). And as all this happens in chunks, in snippets, our attention becomes shorter, and at the same time we become increasingly anxious, because we were all dissatisfied in the space between the stimuli, in the vacuum that we always want to fill. It has never been easier to avoid dealing with the boredom that at this time.
The problem of coating our condition of “boredom”, that longing is existential to the mind when it has to deal with herself, and discovers that its internal state is one of annoyance, boredom, and frustration -because the world is suffering, empty, death-is, that with the entertainment the only thing we are doing is to create an interval, prolonging the period in which (retails) casually ignore the reality that sooner or later we will have to face: the condition of our mind, in a world in which what maquillemos we may not get the satisfaction that lasts. In reality, what do we do with the entertainment -activating our reward system of dopamine – is not very different from the habit so common among addicts to prevent the hangover by consuming more alcohol or drugs.
The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal coined this multicitada phrase that has become an emblem of our time: “The unhappiness [or misfortune] of man is based only on one thing: that he is incapable of staying quietly in his room.” Is usually quoting only this sentence, but all thoughts of Pascal around her are a true treasure that we will discuss below. Before there is to say that it is striking that if the happiness depends on knowing how to be alone and quiet in a room -as it is assumed that it is true, in the appeal to authority to quote a philosopher of the 17th century-, people will do anything to avoid this. A study a few years ago he noticed that when he puts people alone in a room with nothing to do rather than think for between 6 and 15 minutes prefer to give mild electric shocks to stay as well. It actually gives us panic stand still and do nothing. And is that to do nothing is extremely difficult, if not impossible. The mind not to, and when we are not accustomed to observe it is usually not like what we see. The same Pascal in another of his famous phrases, collected in his Thoughts , he described the terror felt by the human mind in response to the vacuum, to the silence of infinite space -perhaps this is what is also hinted at in that rest alone, the infinite and the nothing is starting to make patent and this seriously threatens the comfort of our ego.
The first cited phrase of Pascal appears in the fragment 139, where he talks about the boredom (or boredom). It says there that when considering the “various excitements and dangers to which they are exposed” the men who go to war, become absorbed in a tangle of passion, crimes, and others, deduced that all this comes to reason that you are not able to sit still. A man who I knew to be quiet in your house without making an activity would have no need to seek out divertimientos and in the process get into so many predicaments. We have here a tension between the man of action and man of contemplation. Pascal noted, as before the Buddha or the stoic philosophers who pursue divertimientos, stimuli or material possessions, as the hunter behind of a hare, does not lead to true happiness. Men act erratically “as if the possession of things that seek to could make you truly happy,” he says. And, however, due to our existential condition is really miserable, it seems quite understandable that the man is not able to be at ease in your room and do whatever to get out of this meditation, which is always a meditation on the death and the nothing. Pascal has been considered, a posteriori, an existentialist christian. A phrase worthy of the most scathing of the existentialists modern appears in its fragment 105: “The greatness of human beings consists in their ability to know their misery”.
The initial phrase is very rich in nuances, since, seen from a perspective less deep, the having to stay at rest in your room and inevitably meditate on your condition is also the most direct of the unhappiness of man; not having the fun that allows you to prevent this is the condition of your unhappiness and what separates the kings and members of royalty from the common people. Pascal points out that the royalty is the most beautiful in the world, just because you have an endless source of amusement provided by his subjects, which allows you to avoid (or postpone), “the vision of what threatens you, of the transgressions that can happen, and finally, in the death and the diseases that are inevitable”. Today, with the technology we’re all like the kings of old with a inexhaustible court entertainment to our permanent arrangement, although this is only virtual and less wealth sensory pyrotechnics, the wit of the buffoons, the dances, the food or the melosías of the courtesans. Any way this allows us not to face our condition, that is to say, not to know ourselves. In the end it is better to be the humblest servant in heaven, to be king in this world.
Pascal points out that “the man is visibly made for thinking; it is his whole dignity and his whole merit… the order of thought is to begin by himself.” So that the more worthy and that which lies our worth and significance is in thought, in meditation, in self-reflection. The problem lies in knowing ourselves reveals to us somehow thrown between two abysses:
Because, in the end, what is man in nature? A nothing with respect to the infinite, a whole compared to the nothing, a middle between nothing and everything. Infinitely far from understanding the extremes, for him the end and the beginning of the things are unmatched smooth, hidden in a secret impenetrable, and is equally incapable of seeing the nothing from which has been removed, and the infinite where is mired.
Between the infinite and the nothing, being just part and yearning the whole, so the man has this miserable condition. However, although Pascal reiterates the impossibility of knowing the infinite, even have certainty of the existence of God, he did not think that the existence is absurd. He speaks of the possibility that some, chosen by divine grace, can rise above this abyss and transcend the limitations of human thought. So, famously, Pascal called to bet for God. In the face of uncertainty and misery, still believing in the divinity is, even mathematically, the best bet.
Pascal does not teach that meditation or the thought of rest can be a means to know God, but says that it does not cultivate this thought to distract us with vain amusements, prevents us from knowing “and be in us, that makes us lost insensibly.. the hilarity amuses us and makes us come insensibly to death.” It is for this reason that the amusement is “the only thing that consoles us from our miseries… and, however, it is the greatest of our miseries”. Pascal writes that the misery is the “man without god” and the “happiness [is the] man with God”. Although it does not clarify at all what the benefits are soteriological foundations of solitary meditation, Pascal himself points out that somehow the men who seek God sincerely can attain to perceive “notes-visible” of the deity, although essentially it is a “Deus absconditus”. We can intuit that there is something in that repose of contemplation, when the heart reflects with sincere ardor on his own misery, which is also always a longing -the love lives in the tension of separation-which enables a divine knowledge, although this is something that descends from the same divine and not a human choice.
To conclude with the analysis of this sentence so profuse in their derivations, we can say that the happiness that mentions Pascal that produces the fun and avoid seeing our condition is a happy hedonist and the happiness it gives us to stay still and to know ourselves -though in the existential anguish – happiness is eudaimonic, which has been called the happiness which comes from the soul or the happiness of a life with meaning -meaning as at least we contemplate as part of an infinite universe, or as famously wrote to Pascal: “the universe is a sphere infinite, and whose center is everywhere but whose circumference is not in any. Brand is the sensitive largest of the omnipotence of God, that imagination loses itself in that thought”. The meditation teacher Alan Wallace has compared this happiness eudaimonic concept of “dharma”, is omnipresent in the philosophies of India, a term which can be translated as “religion”, “truth” “and also as “meaning” (as translated by Herbert Guenther. A happiness that comes from finding meaning in the world, to seek the truth, of a sense of religiosity or connection with something higher.
The avoid to think about our condition is a fundamentally avoid thinking about death. We tend to think that thinking about death is depressing and we should produce distress and unhappiness, but, on the other hand, thinking about death can be the most perfect motivation. For Socrates, philosophy was defined primarily as a thought about and a preparation for death. Obviously, Socrates and Plato believed that the human being was capable of achieving a higher state through the death philosophical and so elevate the soul towards the knowledge of ideas or archetypes, emanations of the divine intelligence. So our condition and the death itself was not an event so heinous, something that perhaps was noticed just as the fruit of meditation. That moment of thought in solitude and rest is, after all, the essay is closer and more constant that we have to death. And, if consciousness continues beyond death, and she herself determines our destiny, then obviously it is relevant to interrogate her and investigate our own nature. To observe our mind as the one who inspects the vehicle -that car, possibly winged, with which you can cross a last frontier.
Although it has already been too long, this article for the age of distraction and anxiety, would be incomplete without first mentioning the understanding of the traditions of contemplative eastern of this “be still in a room” (obviously, the meaning of the sentence applies to any place and not just a “room”). Philosophies, and entire religions have been founded on the basis of what a man finds in the silence and in the stillness, simply observing your own thoughts, especially when they do not intervene, and simply observe. In India, he developed what Alan Wallace calls “the technology of samadhi”, a “telescope of the mind”, the tool par excellence to make a science of consciousness. The samadhi, the clarity and concentration of mind, just arises from the calm and quiet, as explained by these traditions. The immobility of the mind, stay fixed and attentive to the will-what is also called “caps”, the burning of the concentration – ve debugged the apparatus of cognitive and makes it clear the true nature of consciousness. This cultivation of samadhi, which we can describe as the fruit of silence, has a purifying effect, restores the natural state that is described as fresh and luminous. This samadhi or pacification that allows access to the maximum amplitude and definition of the mind, in buddhism it is combined with the analytical meditation, the discernment, which is essentially the understanding of our mortal condition, our condition of dissatisfaction in a world that is finite and impermanent -and through understanding to establish a mental function that transcends the operating modes of consciousness that generate a world in which suffering is the basic condition. Unlike Pascal, eastern traditions point out that the human mind can know reality, yes you can reach the divine or eternal, precisely because that is their nature, which shines once it has been freed of all the constructs and concepts that separate it temporarily from itself. This nature, which is usually called the state of awakening, is compared to the Sun that has always been there, but that we perceive when the sky clouds over.
Traditions such as taoism ( wu wei), buddhism zen, buddhism, dzogchen and mahamudra, or tantrism shaiva (with the concept of anupaya or not method of Abhinavagupta) suggest, in fact, that the highest spiritual path is the contemplation, without elaboration, that is to say, the most high is to do nothing -to be, sincerely, without interfering. This is the most difficult and at the same time, simpler, less cunning. The natural state. To do nothing is to become nothing (one is done as what contemplates), is emptied, which in a certain way is to have everything (“the whole and the experience in itself come to be identical,” says Herbert Guenther about the state of dzogchen, the super-completion or great perfection). This state of non-development, non-conceptualization, non-identification, it should not be understood as a nothing in an absolute sense, which would be absurd (the language is limiting, and it would be better to speak of a non-cosidad, no-thingness in English, and ayinin Hebrew); it is an opening, a potential infinite is not differentiated and is not limited (this is similar to the concepts of the physics of zero point energy or to the entire involved of David Bohm). It is a nothing meóntica, by using the concept of Hegel. And this “nothing”, which Heidegger saw as the space glittering Being, that most resembles, or what most of us about it, is just to be in silence, in rest, in quietness, in our room or in any part, without doing something specific, without a commitment (but without entering into a state of lassitude), without altering our nature. Tell us various traditions that this “nothing” is the gnosis, the most high, beyond all possible experience, beyond the subject that experiences an object. And we are so afraid, just as he had glimpsed Pascal, because it means our annihilation, it threatens to destroy what we think we are, what we cling to. As long as we are something we cannot know (to be) what we really want, which is always all, the desire in the background of all desire for an object is the totality, the elimination of all separation, the eradication of any object which can generate a desire since, then, there is nothing that is not us. So, to get what we really want is necessary nulificarnos, make us impossibly nothing. And to start the path to the region mysterious but absolutely intimate that mystics have described -testing the limits of language – such as “the cloud of not-knowing”, a “learned ignorance”, a “darkness bright”, “the journey of the alone to the Alone”, etc, the first step is to learn to be alone, stand still and observe attentively and not to conceptualize.