Meditation is often thought of as a means to and end, a vehicle for spiritual growth, or a stress reduction technique. Meditation can work this way, and it can be so much more than that.
When I lead retreats I practice an orientation to awakening that reveals meditation has nothing to do with getting anywhere or anything, and rather is about staying exactly where you already are.
The ultimate goal of all of our spiritual work can be called fulfillment, wholeness, freedom, self-realization, or divine union, but no matter what words we use, they all mean the ultimate completion to our human life, and the discovery of perfect peace and inner contentment.
Because many of us experience so much pain and suffering in life, we assume that ultimate peace must be very hard to find. The truth is just the opposite. It couldn’t be closer to you because it is already the essence of your deepest inner nature.
Meditation does not take time. Meditation happens instantaneously. Meditation is the immediate realization of freedom and fulfillment. I can explain this to you, but it is of little use unless you experience it for yourself.
The experience of this moment – the one you are in right now, the one you have always been in and always will be, the only moment that exists, the everlasting presence of now – is full, complete, free and whole exactly as it is.
If you simply choose not to trust any thought or feeling that would tell you otherwise, by trying to convince you that this is not the moment you’re looking for, you will slowly and inevitably fall into the direct realization that this is it! This is the moment you have been waiting for. This was always the moment you have been waiting for.
Enlightenment exists beyond the mind. Before we have any doubts about this moment there is simply the reality that this is the moment everything has been building towards. If you rest your attention right here, right now, in the arising experience of this very moment, there is nothing wrong. Everything is as it is and it couldn’t be any other way. It’s perfect.
In the reality of this moment there is nothing pleasant or unpleasant, there is no suffering, there is simply what is. The experience of this moment being better or worse than any other only arises in comparison to some ideal that we have created and use as a standard to judge our experience. Without that ideal, this moment is simply what it is. Immediate, fresh, alive, vibrant, and perfect in the sense that it was the inevitable outcome of all that came before.
Luminous absorption is the state of having all of your attention focused on the immediate reality of the moment. The experience of luminous absorption does not happen in time, it happens in the present, now.
Now has no duration. It has no thickness. It doesn’t begin and end. It is simply now. When all of our attention is focused on the immediate present, we slip out of the stream of time.
When we become liberated from time we are free from the experience of the past and future. There is nothing to plan for, and nothing to regret. This experience of freedom is usually accompanied by an energetic shift. There can be a sense of a higher vibration of energy entering your body. This shift takes us beyond the gross realm of time and space and into the subtle realms of the soul that exist beyond time and space.
An extended retreat is an opportunity to rest in the subtle dimensions of being, and acclimatize there. At first it feels strange and foreign and can be difficult to relax and be content beyond the mind and beyond time. Our insecurities constantly tempt us to return to the normal experience of time and space.
However, with greater periods of time spent in the state of luminous absorption we become accustomed to those higher aspects of ourselves. We begin to become curious and excited to explore our new found freedom and discover what capacities have become available to us.
The more relaxed we become in the experience of luminous absorption, the deeper our attention can venture beyond the mind. This is the beginning of a great adventure of spiritual discovery and the only key to it is becoming profoundly comfortable in the state of awareness beyond the mind.