Brother Ed Hurst and I have been chatting by email about something called the Heart Math Institute. The folks there had some interesting research several years back about the heart as an organ of perception. But in recent years, they've decided to cash in, and because everyone likes apps, they've created apps whereby you can see if you're meditating 'correctly', or if your positive thoughts are positive enough to affect your heart rhythms. Etc.
It's abominable, as far as I am concerned, to further divorce people from their bodies in this way, to make them reliant on a piece of technology for feedback when the senses we're born with can serve us just fine in that department.
This is the beginning of the age of the Borg, my friends, don't be fooled.
Anyhow, it reminded me of this post I did a couple of years ago ..
Why do I preach so much about our relationships with our bodies? In the long run, to make it easier for us to leave them behind.
The body is portrayed simultaneously as the source of pain and suffering and an idol to be worshiped. We placate (what we think are) its cravings with food and sex. Some of us exercise lest it break down. Yet mostly, it is an "it", an objective thing, because we believe or want to believe that we are more than physical creatures.
But we still do some remarkable things to ourselves in order to stay in our physical bodies, don't we? Anyone who turns down a "life saving" drug or surgery is considered mentally ill. Suicidal. It is better to live longer, insensible and unaware of anyone around us, racked with pain and attached to a machine. Or so they tell us.
Well I don't buy it. I think we fear death so much because we neglect to actually live.
We're told by many a guru that we must meditate ourselves away and out of this physical realm, daily, if we seek enlightenment. This world is illusion - you know the drill. But as these Eastern understandings are translated into Western thought, the whole thing becomes a mess. Western thought obscures even the original illusion. You can't "rise above" something you haven't been immersed in, in the first place.
Even if this physical plane is illusion, it is important to remember that it is really all we have to work with right now. It is cursed, on the one hand, and a blessing on the other. Why are we here? I'm not wise enough to say. I am wise enough to know that squandering this life by embracing the distractions we invent will never lead to understanding.
I have a hunch that the expression "by their works shall ye know them" is apt here. I believe it even applies to understanding God. So it follows that to understand God, and ourselves, we need to look around at Creation itself.
Of course, our logical minds will not grasp any of it. That, my friends, is the point. An understanding of trees will not come by looking at the chemical process of photosynthesis. Tree-ness, however, can be felt by a human with a mind not distracted by breaking it down into parts. A tree is not simply a thing, it is always part of a greater context - of the soil it springs from and in its turn creates, of the shelter and food it gives others, the shade it creates on the ground.
Trying to understand all trees by looking at the parts of one under a microscope is to only look more closely at the illusion.
To sit with one's back against a tree for hours, to immerse oneself with tree-ness, brings about a change in consciousness. To observe details - colour, scent, sounds - without the attempt to name them and separate them from each other, but allowing them to blend and become a whole, we experience, we learn, but without words. The tree itself expresses its being into ours.
We understand, then, more about ourselves as humans, because we have experienced something beyond logic. Beyond chemical composition, beyond economic value, beyond, especially, the Disney-fication of nature, we sense the value of tree-ness for its own sake.
If tree-ness is, so too is human-ness. To have experienced, even once, a part of Creation in this way, we've broken a little beyond the barrier of words and logic and into the world of communion.
There is nothing mystical or woo-woo about this experience, we are simply using the senses we are born with. However, we're using them without trying to interpret them, bringing us more fully into an understanding of what the human body/self is capable of. What it springs from.
When words are silenced, the rest of the experience of human consciousness can rise up within us. I think it a mistake to try to "still the mind" sitting on a rubber mat inside a building. We may think that our awareness of our surroundings falls away, but that in itself is an illusion. It is the nature of consciousness to seek out experience. Meditation of this sort prohibits its movement. The mind is not stilled, it is busy maintaining a barrier between itself and the rest of Creation.
What we seek is to be aware of our place within Creation. To deny the experience of consciousness - by which I mean awareness, but on a level that cannot include words - is to deny the truth of our beings. To chant a mantra or hyperfocus the mind's eye on an imaginary image can be as much of a distraction as the trance of television.
You gotta get in to get out.
It is by experiencing our human-ness within Creation that we break the mirrors of illusion. By His work shall we know Him. Not with our intellects, they would break in the attempt. Not all at once, that too is a ridiculous notion. It is not that the physical plane or Creation itself is the illusion, but the way that we have been taught to perceive it, with our eyes only, and taught to interpret it into words, divide it, thinking to conquer it.
Our backs against trees, not walls. Our butts on the ground, not mats. These will get us in, not out.
That's a start, at least.