The land is bone dry, and cobwebs cover the bushes along the creek. California normally goes months without rain in the summer, but like many other places on earth now, a deep drought has set in.
However a swallowtail butterfly flutters about for the full hour, and a few birds fly in and land close, their curiosity prevailing over their caution. A frog croaks downstream, where a group of unseen people plays good-naturedly in the stream.
The body adjusts to the heat, and passive awareness inclusively encompasses everything that can be heard and seen in the vicinity. Non-directed attention gathers unseen. As the whole brain attends to the movement of thought and emotion in the same way one watches the stream go by - that is, without judgment or interference - the movement of thought suddenly stops.
In the stillness of mind, every sound reverberates with meaning. In the emptiness of being, there is love beyond the word, beyond the personal. When psychological thought ends, the mind leaves the known, with its familiarity and suffering, and enters the infinite, joyful dimension of the unknown.
Whether individual or collective, is psychological memory darkness, to one degree or another?
Meditation, as I understand and practice it, has no method, technique or system. Mantras and watching one's breath seem childish to me, and have ever since I briefly fell for the Transcendental Meditation scam in my first year of college.
The only true meaning the word meditation has to my mind is a quality of passive, undivided observation that engenders unwilled attention, which alone completely quiets the mind as thought.
Thought as knowledge or skill is not a problem. Thought became a problem when it formed the basis of our psychological, social and spiritual lives. Tradition is thought, as is belief, and both have become enormously problematic.
The accumulation of mental and emotional memories is the material of psychological thought, which has become an incredibly dark movement in consciousness and the world.
Has psychological thought always been dark? A friend wrote, "I believe it is fragmented or dislocated memory that acts without regard for the whole that is so damaging." Isn't he referring to the relative coherence of memory in the past, with indigenous and traditional cultures?
The actual human condition now, all over the world, is one in which memory is "fragmented and dislocated." Since we cannot go back to indigenous or traditional cultures, however much people may want or try to resurrect them, and since we cannot put the fragments of memory together into a coherent whole, isn't the only way ahead to end psychological memory and thought as the ground of our being?
There is a saying, "We shape our tools, and thereafter, they shape us." That's too simplistic, but the attempt at so-called nuance is even worse:
"There is an optimism in that, a reminder of our own agency...how do we want to be shaped? Who do we want to become?"
The assumption that the human mind must be 'shaped' is the assumption of slavery. Why do we accept it?
The idea that the human mind is ineluctably shaped, conditioned by parents, society, technology or "our own agency," is deeply false and destructive to human freedom.
The process of unconditioning the mind is an arduous one, which cannot be accomplished by employing time. 'Becoming' inevitably implies time, which means we accept being shaped, conditioned. Thinking in terms of shaping the human mind, even one's own under the illusion of our own separate agency, is like saying, 'there's good slavery and there's bad slavery.'
"How do we want to be shaped?" is an absurdly wrongheaded question. Can we uncondition ourselves, and thereby grow as free human beings? That's the right question.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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