Lately I've been grappling with the question of context. It would seem to be a given that we live in contexts of one kind or another, from the context of nature, which man ignores at our peril, to the fading contexts of distinct cultures. However, does meditation have a context?
A common jay, well adapted and at home in urban environments, flies up close, curious no doubt. Endlessly alert, it lands on the fence and searches for whatever morsels it can glean from the grass. They are clever, aggressive birds, afraid of no other aerial species except raptors. They often like harassing the gray squirrels, with which they seem to count coup.
It's a mild, breezy afternoon, and as I meditate in the backyard white and gray clouds merge and thicken overhead. This part of the Pacific Coast is heading into another hot, dry season of drought. It will probably be rainless until mid-November, so clouds are a welcome sight.
Drought isn't the absence of rain during the dry season in California; it's the absence of sufficient precipitation during the rainy season. This mega-drought, the worst in nearly 130 years in the West, has affected Oregon and Washington as well, both of which experienced extreme wildfires last year.
The euphemism 'climate change,' as well as the ominous Sixth Extinction -- the first in the history of life on Earth wrought by a sentient, supposedly sapient species -- poses an unprecedented challenge to humankind.
Humans don't do well with global issues, and not because of scale. Unable to stop our Sorcerer's Apprentice separativeness, we deal in parts and pieces. However unless enough of us begin ending fragmentation and tribalism at their roots, things are only going to get worse.
We are creatures with a finite lifespan. Isn't that the ultimate context? In one sense, yes. Since we have the capacity as human beings to transcend time however, even transcend death, we are not limited to the contexts of our lifespans.
What about the context of the Earth itself, and its carrying capacity for man's destructiveness?
That context encompasses all the lifespans of all the people who have ever lived, because it defines the limited number of chances we have as a species to change course.
But even that final arbiter of context for a potentially intelligent species cannot limit individual transcendence. Humankind may perish, but the cosmic consciousness of even one liberated human being cannot be extinguished.
It's very difficult to convey, and impossible to teach, but true meditation has no context - not tradition, technique, system or method. 'Guided meditation' is an oxymoron. Experience, even and especially of prior meditative states, precludes experiencing meditative states in the present.
When thought/time ends in passive awareness, growing into unwilled attention, there is no context. Meditation stands alone -- all one -- and one is complete.
There is nothing more, and nothing that needs to come from the meditative state, though paradoxically, it is the wellspring of goodness and the work of human transmutation.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. email@example.com
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