It strikes me that the spiritual journey is a turning inward of consciousness. This is why so much emphasis is put on knowing oneself because to know who one is requires consciousness to be turned inward. And that’s the same as sitting in silence, i.e. not being distracted by thoughts, feelings or bodily sensations. The advice is the same. Just different ways of describing the same process.
Counting the breath, meditation on an object are all techniques that build up the concentration, but that same concentration can come out of an intense inquiry into the nature of oneself.
And so it seems to me that Soto Zen and Rinzai Zen are essentially the same. Sitting on one’s mat in still awareness is the same as enquiring “Who am I?” I think it’s no co-incidence that Hui Neng, in my opinion the founder of Zen, asked his first student “What was your original nature before you were born?” You have to sit quietly for an answer don’t you.
It’s the same as the Christian injunction to “Be still and know that I am God.” And Dolano’s advice that you must love meditation is basically saying that you must love being still.
Christ pointed to the kingdom of heaven being within. Isn’t that such a major hint. Buddha pointed to the fullness of the seeming void. And more recently Ramana and Krishnamurti both pointed to the inquiry into one’s own nature.
And then to carry this stillness, call it spaciousness if you will beyond meditation and into one’s outer life. It strikes me that’s what mindfulness is.
Some teachers point to the idea that the practise of mindfulness in meditation leads to mindfulness in one’s life. If mindfulness and stillness are the same then we’re saying even in action be still.
And that carries the conversation back to that teaching in the Bhagavad Gita
He who can see inaction in action, and action in inaction is the wisest among men. He is a saint, even though he still acts.
I got a paper on my desk the other day entitled “How authentic is the X brand in Y?” It’s an interesting question.
But, what is this search for authenticity? In one way it strikes me as odd that a person would seek authenticity outside of themselves. An authentic spare part. It’s a real one.
But then brands seek to be authentic as well. Have an authentic story. Come from a certain place. Or have a long history. Be the real thing.
Krishnamurti points out in the video above that we spend our life imitating. I think this is it. Because we aren’t authentic we seek the authentic outside of ourselves. If we were authentic, would authenticity matter? It’s like beauty products. Because people don’t feel beautiful they buy beauty products to try and make them feel beautiful. Some psychologists call this projection. And then some brand owners through their brands seek to stand for an inner truth. Why not? We, humanity, are not, often.
Authenticity is an interesting word. Apparently it derives from autos self hentes doer. There’s originality it seems in authenticity. If I buy brand X will that make me authentic? Society may think so. And for a short while I may believe so. But really we know it’s not the case.
According to the Greek origins of the word, it seems that there is an unconditioned act. Unconditioned is the opposite of imitated isn’t it? A pure act in the here and now, that is not part of the chain of causality. And that means it’s not hindered by expectation. Because the moment there is an expectation on the act there is an implied chain of causes.
Only the mind that is free is authentic. A mind that is free doesn’t look externally for authenticity. In that act of looking externally there is imitation.
So, what’s the difference? I don’t mind a brand that reminds me to be authentic. I have a few statues of Buddha at home. They are not the authentic Buddha. Most of them aren’t even authentic carvings. Yet they serve to remind me to sit in meditation, and practise sitting in the now. And at the same time they are just statues and the reminder is what my mind has given to them. They’re just metal or stone or clay or glue.
I must admit, life is a complete mystery to me at the moment. I have no idea what is happening. That is not to say that there are no opportunities; there are plenty. And that is good. Each of them is a different future, each is uncertain and each requires cultivation. The only thing I can rely on is meditation and the cultivation of inner qualities. And that is good.
It’s actually quite interesting watching how everything is unfolding. If love is letting go of fear then I’m certainly learning to love life.
Eckhart Tolle’s view that the presence is here and now and can only be attained here and now it strikes me is right. And I like Krishnamurti’s uncompromising commitment to inner peace.
Could I say that uncertainty like certainty is also an illusion? Both thoughts are projections of identity into the future, creating a lack of focus on the present moment.
Eckhart also says that when you live in the now that you know exactly what to do. Perhaps he’s right.