Sunday, January 1, 2023

Gradual AND Sudden

    VERY serious, DEEPLY committed spiritual seekers, Bill & Susan Morgan, who've spent a good chunk of their lives meditating, including a 3-year silent meditation retreat at the wonderful Forest Refuge (in Barre MA), and who a week ago returned from a 1-year silent meditation retreat, shared some of their insights last night with over a hundred folks who gathered around them for a New Year's online sitting.  
    Bill shared that he had always gone on retreats planning to have the BIG awakening experience - by which he meant the final, once & for all, complete enlightenment, where suddenly, he would be completely transformed forever.  
    But that has not been his experience, and it's certainly not for lack of interest, know-how or effort. Interestingly, and this is important for all of us, Bill & Susan have come to realize that focusing on the goal of an earth-shattering experience can easily overshadow the many, small but meaningful insights we all invariably have on this journey. So while most of us will not experience sudden mind-blowing fireworks, we WILL gradually experience deeper & more abiding levels of calm, peace & gratitude. And this is wonderful!

    Society's present focus is overly self-centered - survival & "success" of our self & closest loved one(s) first & foremost. So it's very counter-culturalcounter-intuitive to shift from striving to achieve a sudden dramatic personal goal and to instead, recognize & value calm, peace, gratitude, equanimity, stillness, silence, interbeing, spaciousness & intimacy with ALL. Even within Buddhism, and some other spiritual disciplines, there is debate over sudden vs gradual awakening (though there is general agreement about the life-long necessity to skillfully integrate spiritual insights into one's daily life).

self-care & self-compassion are important parts of life, in context of the BIG picture, which includes everyone & all else.
Our talent for division, for seeing the parts, is of staggering importance – second only to our capacity to transcend it, in order to see the whole.

    “As we travel through life, we are all seekers
     after something larger than ourselves…” Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer PhD

    “The inexorable yearning for something beyond the mundane or the explainable runs deep in the human psyche. It arises from an urge to find meaning in existence, for something bigger than ourselves. It also comes from a need to belong, to experience life in terms of a harmonious interaction – with others, with nature, with God, with the universe. An interaction that was once part of the human condition.
    In hunter-gatherer societies, religious belief was always linked to nature. Facing constant danger, people sought ways to live in harmony with the unpredictable environment by worshiping the earth, its elements, its wild animals. Life was shot through with spirituality. And the powers of ESP, or psi – contact with the dead, premonition, telepathy, astral travel – were accepted as an essential part of man’s interconnection with nature.”

    Maria Coffey. “Explorers of the Infinite. The Secret Spiritual Lives of Extreme Athletes – and What They Reveal About Near-Death Experiences, Psychic Communications, and Touching the Beyond.” Jeremy P. Tarcher / Penguin, 2008.

“We clasp the hands of those who go before us,
and the hands of those who come after us;
we enter the little circle of each other’s arms,
and the larger circle of lovers
whose hands are joined in a dance,
and the larger circle of all creatures,
passing in and out of life,
who move also in a dance,
to a music so subtle and vast
that no one hears it except in fragments.” Wendell Berry, “Healing”

“We consist of and are sustained by interweaving currents of matter, energy, and information that flow through us interconnecting us with our environment and other beings.
Yet, we are accustomed to identifying ourselves only with that small arc of the flow – though that is lit, like the narrow beam of a flashlight, by our individual subjective awareness.
But we don’t have to so limit our self–perceptions ...
It is as plausible to align our identity with the larger pattern, interexistent with all beings, as to break off one segment
of the process and build our borders there.”
Joanna Macy

     Join Bill & Susan Morgan for their daily sit starting Monday, Jan 2, 2023 :

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