Friday, February 4, 2011

The Beloved

Buddhism doesn't bother itself with the concept of "God." The closest it ever comes, seems to be in Tibetan Buddhism, in both the Mahayana and Vajrayana branches. Here the term "God" is not mentioned, but the absolute is -- and true, full realization is impossible without the cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness.

In this respect, one could say that Buddhism does speak of a Godness, if you believe that Godness to be something akin to total, all-encompassing, unconditional love. In Hinduism, the umbrella term for the ancient religion of India, "God" is most often spoken of in terms of the Beloved. Buddhism later grew out of this religion, and so in some ways, it is its mother.

I've been contemplating the Beloved lately. This contemplation has been brought about largely by the spiritual contemplations and ongoing revolutions of my dearest and best friend, as she wrestles with her own beliefs. It has certainly given me a moment of pause and reflection. What do I believe? What do I know, if anything, to be true? Is there a "God" or isn't there?

This has been an oscillating topic for me. Somtimes I find myself prizing the scientific intellect and saying, no, there is no thing that is "God," there is just this masterpiece of a universe... and to say there is God would be to totally discredit Mother Nature for her incredible beauty and genius. Then, I think to myself, 'well, if I take up that view completely, then the mind and "spirit" must fully die at the moment of death. Nothing afterwards. No awareness. No sense of consciousness.' But this doesn't feel entirely right.

Such dualistic thinking! If it's not this, then it must be that. It can't be all, it has to be one or the other. Our western philosophers have taught us to think this way since the time of Aristotle and Plato.

If you think I'm coming close to giving you an answer, however, you'd be wrong. The truth is, I really don't know. But I'm okay with not knowing. The knowing is the journey, in and of itself. And it's not in the finding, either... it's in the looking.

So what if we simply take this term that seems so utterly problematic that is has caused wars, death, famin, torture, genocide, and suffering of all kinds, and throw it out. Why do we have to label it "God" with all of those built-in issues? As if  something as miraculous as "God" could ever be limited in any way by our silly, ignorant little minds, anyway.

Here's what I know then:
- I don't like the term "God." It's far too loaded, and suggests that I know more of it than I do.
- I can only know what I have experienced for myself. This is that the "self" as we think we know it, is not actually so. There is no person that we think we are, this dies at the moment of our death. However, there is something that is indeed lasting, permanent, and real. It is unattached to self-hood, but it is totally aware.
- The only thing I have found at all capable of sustaining me in groundless space, is love.
- Those who have died are still able to communicate with us.

I had this interesting revelation last night when I was meditating. For months I have been struggling with letting go into the groundless space of meditation. To be aware, awake, and at the same time to let go into the present, unattached to thoughts, feelings, etc, seems only to be possible when my heart opens and the experience of love is flowing through me.

I watched a wonderful documentary of Ram Dass last night, called "Fierce Grace." He speaks a lot of the Beloved. He also spoke about his spiritual mentor, or guru, Baba Maharaji. When he showed a picture of Maharaji, the most interesting thing happened -- I started to cry. His face, his beautiful smile, just filled me with love so tender it made me cry. I thought to myself, 'Love. This is the most important thing I can cultivate. This is what brings you close to the Beloved.' When I went to meditate, an hour flew by like a handful of minutes. Meditation was so simple all of a sudden. I settled in, closed my eyes, and felt again that love so tender I wept inside. The barrage of thoughts that usually pour down on me, the fighting emotions, the struggle of calming and quieting, had all simply evaporated. Sure, a thought came here and there, but it wasn't a problem. I simply noticed it, and let it go.

(Baba Maharaji)

They speak a lot about the difficulty in meditation being one's ability to let go and release themselves into a groundless space. How in the world can I not struggle for ground in this groundless space, I've wondered? It has been my constant question, until now. I'm not sure if it's right, but it seems to work at the moment. Opening to the feeling of love allows me to release that very internal need for ground, for certainty, for thought and action, me and my-ness (the "I'm meditating. I need to wash dishes. I am struggling. I am frustrated.")

"But love is not of the mind, it is not in the net of thought, it cannot be sought out, cultivated, cherished; it is there when the mind is silent and the heart is empty of the things of the mind." - J. Krishnamurti

1 comment:

  1. Jiddu Krishnamurti telling a joke...

    “There are three monks, who had been sitting in deep meditation for many years amidst the Himalayan snow peaks, never speaking a word, in utter silence. One morning, one of the three suddenly speaks up and says, ‘What a lovely morning this is.’ And he falls silent again. Five years of silence pass, when all at once the second monk speaks up and says, ‘But we could do with some rain.’ There is silence among them for another five years, when suddenly the third monk says, ‘Why can’t you two stop chattering?”