My particular spiritual journey was not through traditional meditation. It was more through the contemplation of high and noble Ideals; the adoration of Beauty but only in it’s beautiful forms of expression. Consequently, for decades, my spiritual friends and I concentrated on these selected aspects of life; they were the Ideal, and we were cultivators of this ideal in that we became well schooled in all the arts.
Looking back over my shoulder –which is a pain in the neck more and more these days, I see how we isolated and limited our selves, how we established and maintained a fine conceit, a spiritual ego which basked in its own self-glory. And heah, it was a great trip! For years and years we enjoyed feeling really special as we travelled the world and taught each other the noble truths our Teachers’ teachers taught. We often quoted, with ardor and authority, the collected knowledge that centuries of literary wisdom afforded us. We knew, finally, that truth is beauty, and beauty is truth. We knew that if we practiced what they preached then, in time we the select few, would be rewarded for our special efforts with that sacred and personal Enlightenment we so devoutly sought.
We knew, but we did not understand.
More particularly, and speaking about myself only, I didn’t understand for myself.
Now this isn’t some kind of exploration of ideas about Understanding – that I and my friends could talk and write about very eloquently, quoting Goethe or Socrates or Epictetus or Lincoln or our Teacher…whomever! It’s about one simple truth: it was all in my head!
Our minds get fixed in a pattern. They learn through repeated experience; they absorb and record in memory their own mind-interpreted version of reality, of “what’s really going on here” without questioning their own minds’ ability to actually comprehend the Real. So what can our mind ever understand?
Well, that brings us back to our own authority, because only you can know truth for yourself. For me, discovering the movements of my mind has opened up a whole new perspective. There’s a gentle recognition that “I” am not my mind nor my body. There’s a seeing that all thought and sensation is not ultimately me…that mind produces ideas and ideals which have been believed to be true. So, for instance, these words here and the thinking behind them, are now seen as functions of underlying spirit which inspires them and which is their source. Or, as J.Krishnamurti puts it:
“ There must be silent awareness of naming and so the understanding of it”
Now here’s a little irony: I must have read those exact words before – they’re underlined in one of the many Krishnamurti books I read and rarely understood years ago!
I’ll end this little exploration with a disclaimer: If we mean by the term “understanding” that we can, or eventually will, know something, then this is another missed understanding. We cannot know truth or reality –only the mind would ever claim to know something which, in fact, we are.
What we are is not word-play, not mind-play.
It is in the moment to moment re-cognition of this underlying realness that we find joy and contentment. A peace that’s way beyond the limits of understanding, that’s not ever personal, not ever believable.
We are whatever life is
We go wherever life may flow.
We take whatever form life takes
Understanding we’ll never know!