When your meditation becomes deep and steady what you find is that you flicker in and out of remembering that you are meditating. You will be meditating for a while, deliberately following the instructions, and then you will remember that you are meditating and realize that you had forgotten what you were doing for a few minutes.
It’s very much like when you wake up in the morning from a night’s sleep in which you don’t remember any dreams. The experience of your separate self – the person who responds to your name – is that you start falling asleep in bed and then suddenly your eyes open onto a new morning. You have no idea what happened in between. From your point of view, it was as if you stopped existing during the night.
As a novice meditator you will be very conscious of following the instructions. You will probably assume that being vigilant about remembering that you are meditating is critical to actually meditating. You will find yourself remembering that you are meditating, and you will reflexively snap back to consciously remembering anytime you find that you have forgotten. This is what you will think of as meditating – the constant effort to remember that you are meditating.
What I want to tell you now is that training yourself to remember that you are meditating, although essential for building strength of mind, is not the true essence of meditation. Real meditation begins when we allow ourselves to go in and out of remembering what we are doing without reacting every time we remember. This is when we simply sit in a state of perfect contentment no matter what happens – even if we keep forgetting what we are doing. We just sit in calm abidance forgetting ourselves and remembering ourselves without having any preference either way.
From the point of view of the separate sense of self, we are flickering in an out of existence. We are aware of ourselves meditating, then we are not aware. We allow ourselves to alternate back and forth between remembering and forgetting. We’re there meditating one minute and then gone the next. As long as we have no preference for being aware of ourselves or not, we can remain perfectly content either way.
The quality of relaxation that we feel at this depth of practice is miraculous. It feels like nothing in the world could possibly upset us. Things come and go. We come and go. None of it matters. We start to discover that sense of deep and unshakeable peace that is the foundation of existence.
This is as far as you can take yourself through will and effort, and the reason for that is that the part of you that makes effort is the separate sense of self. The separate sense of self can only effort itself to the point of flickering in and out of existence. It can’t use effort to go beyond the point of non-existence because making effort will always bring it back into existence.
Now if you simply rest in this flickering state, longer and longer periods of time will pass without you being aware. More and more of your meditation will be like the time spent sleeping in a dreamless night. It’s as if you weren’t there. You have no idea what, if anything, happened.
To the identity of the separate sense of self this may start to feel like a waste of time. Afterall, what good could any of this be if I am not even aware of what’s happening? But in the case of awakening, you not being aware is the whole point.
Even though the separate sense of self is not aware when it forgets that it is meditating, there is a deeper part of you that is aware the whole time. If you allow yourself to spend more and more time in this flickering state, you will start to develop a mysterious sense of what happens when your separate sense of self is not around.
At first, it’s like you’re remembering dreams that you had. Every time you remember that you are meditating, you seem to have some vague memory of what you were experiencing during the time that you had forgotten. It will be fuzzy like a dream, but you will clearly remember having experienced something.
At this point it is important to avoid the temptation to consciously attempt to remember what you experience in those depths. Any attempt to consciously remember will keep you identified with the separate self because that is the part of you that makes conscious effort. You have to find a way to be content without remembering what you experience. Content with disappearing.
If you can do this, then you will find that you do remember more of what happens in those mysterious depths. You will also see that there is no end to those depths. It is an ocean of consciousness without a bottom. It is an infinite sky. Most interesting, is that as you find yourself remembering more of those depths, you simultaneously find yourself increasingly uninterested in what you remember. It becomes obvious that the memories that follow you to the surface are a thin shade of what was experienced in the depths. It’s like listening to a bad recording of a magnificent musical performance. Why would you want that recording if you could go back and hear the performance live any time you wanted?
If you find a way to just sit and flicker in and out of existence without any ambition to remember or discover anything, something wonderful begins to happen. You start to realize that the love and wisdom of those unfathomable depths are becoming a part of your ordinary experience of reality.
The ordinary world of the waking state starts to be infused with new dimensionality. You are becoming aware of invisible currents that constantly run through everything you perceive. It becomes obvious that the mysterious realms of spiritual vision that are not available to your ordinary mind, have always been constantly interacting with the world around you.
As the higher spiritual dimensions of reality open up to you, it is not that you see more in an ordinary way – but you do sense more. You develop new sensitivities that open you to more of reality. You are now in a position to express those invisible realms of being. You find ways to write about them, paint them, dance them, create businesses around them. Those higher dimensions want to be expressed. They want to be given life and they are inviting you to birth them. Giving birth to higher dimensional realities in the ordinary world is the passion of an artist of possibility.