“… When you know your true nature as silence, there is no need to do meditation—you are meditation …” ~ Amoda Maa
“The earth seems to rest in silent meditation and the waters and the mountains and the sky and the heavens seem all to be in meditation.” ~ Chandogya Upanishad
Indeed, “meditation” is “all around” us and has always been … and nowadays one doesn’t even need to look at Mother Earth and its wonders to see this. The “modern world” has certainly caught up with the ancient traditions with regards to meditation. Its value for humanity is a given these days – and has been for many years now (and increasingly so). Its benefits are now scientifically proven. Instead of being some esoteric eastern “idea” it is now firmly supplanted across almost all “sectors” of human society: education, corporate, government, healthcare, prisons, and more. And, one doesn’t need to go to India to learn, it is easily accessible everywhere: books, magazines, workshops, retreats … and all of it even more so due to the internet.
This mushrooming – and consequential mainstream adoption – can potentially result in the essence being “diluted” … or missing the root of what it’s all about. Even the act of “exploring” is paradoxical … as it can take one into the mental realm and meditation is certainly not a “mental endeavor.” Yet Amoda is able to deftly illuminate the essence through two simple questions – in this post.
This post – part 4 – also concludes our series exploring Amoda’s recent book (Oct ’20) through chapter excerpts: Falling Open In A World Falling Apart: The Essential Teaching of Amoda Maa. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the background of this series and a summary of Parts 1 through 3 … plus the full attribution of the source for this content.
Do I need to have a dedicated meditation practice in order to awaken?
“… the question of meditation can’t be answered by the mind. It can only be realized when silence has become the bedrock of your life …”
To meditate, or not to meditate? The question is a conundrum to the mind that seeks satisfaction. The mind seeks a definitive answer, as if that would bring an end to its unease. The person-hood seeks certainty, as if the certainty of “spiritual progress” would bestow a badge of worthiness or specialness. But the question of meditation can’t be answered by the mind. It can only be realized when silence has become the bedrock of your life. This silence is not about closing the doors, turning off the phone, and lighting some candles. Nor has it to do with trying to get rid of your thoughts, or imagining the perfect sanctuary of peace.
This silence reveals itself when you stop giving attention to the narratives that wrap themselves around your experience of reality. This silence happens when you turn toward tenderness every time an unwanted feeling enters your inner landscape. This silence happens when you surrender all resistance to what is. This silence happens when you are no longer the center of your universe, when you have become without a center and the whole universe is in you. Without resistance, there is no inner conflict, no inner division, no outside and no inside, no barrier and no boundary.
When you know your true nature as silence, there is no need to do meditation—you are meditation.True meditation is a state of being—it is your natural open state. And in this natural open state, there is nothing to move away from and nothing to move toward. You are simply and irrevocably here. There is no longer a question—because in silence all questions fall away.
Of course, turning your attention inward by taking time to be still—whether you are just sitting quietly by yourself doing nothing or whether you are engaged in a formal meditation practice—can be very helpful (at least in the early stages) in bringing you closer to the silence of being. But it’s not really about whether you meditate or not. It’s about whether you can fall into the silence that is always here prior to your ideas of what meditation is or what it can give you or where it can take you. Whether you sit in deep stillness or whether you do something in the world, this silence is always here. It is in you as beingness. Being-ness doesn’t need to do meditation—it is meditation.
So, perhaps it’s wise to ask a different question—“How can I meet myself and meet the world as silence?” This question will turn the mind away from its horizontal searching and call you to the vertical inquiry, where a deeper truth can be revealed.
“So silence has nothing to do with the mind?”
Only when the heart has been opened can we fall into this silence. It’s a silence that goes all the way into the very fabric of our being, into the very fabric of our humanity, into our inner environment, and into our outer environment. This silence has no pollution in it—it’s not polluted by self-righteousness. Only from here can clear action be taken.
When silence has penetrated all the way, there’s really no more need to meditate—because the whole of life is a meditation. There’s no more effort required in order to be mindful, no more effort required in order to be aware—all effort is gone.The true meaning of meditation is presence. And you don’t need to put effort into being present.You simply are required to meet life undefended—without armoring, without pretense, without the imagination of hope or the imagination of fear.
The invitation to live as silence is not a call to do something as a practice or as a meditation. It’s not something you pick up and then put down. It’s an invitation to remember that which is always here. You don’t have to earn it, and neither do you have to learn it. It’s right here—when the mind stops clambering around for something to stand on, when the mind stops clasping to a conclusion about reality.
It is not just in the realm of thoughts that the mind tries to find a position, but also in the realm of feelings.You feel something, and then you’re absolutely certain that what you feel is the final say on the matter. You put a label on it— “I feel sadness” or “I feel rage” or “I feel despair.” The mind has taken a position.
Then fear arises—the fear that “I’ll be stuck in this feeling.” You imagine this is the worst thing that could ever happen to you.You imagine there’s no way through.You imagine you will fall apart.You imagine you’re going to lose the happiness or the joy or the insight you had gained. All that is a conclusion the mind comes to, a position it takes. How do you really know? The mind just pretends that it knows.
When you meet what is here without imprisoning it with conclusions, a whole new vista opens up. Instead of seeing through the myopia of the mind, you see through the eyes of an open heart. Eventually, this open-ended perception brings you to silence—a silence as which you no longer pollute your world.
~ Amoda Maa
Amoda’s book “… invites a falling open into ‘the groundless ground of unbroken presence,’ the openness that allows everything to be as it is … Amoda encourages ‘listening to the deepest truth in you, listening to that which is prior to narrative and prior to reactivity, listening to the silence within—and then moving from this silence. Or not moving at all.’ …” ~ Joan Tollifson
… in Part 1 (Openness: A word for this very moment) Amoda sets the stage for the series by addressing a natural – and burning – question: how relevant is all of this in the seemingly endless mayhem of life? especially as we face the “COVID crisis.”
… and in Part 3 … she explores the paradoxical challenge of dancing “… in the waves of duality while merging with the ocean of non-duality” …
All italicized text is from Falling Open in a World Falling Apart and is published here with Amoda’s gracious and generous permission.
And here’s a gentle reminder that helping those in extreme need is the “order of the day” – always ! …
India continues to undergo a humanitarian crisis brought upon by the ravaging resurgence of COVID-19 … if you don’t know about this or want an update, here is a recent New York Times post detailing What to Know About India’s Coronavirus Crisis … so, to do our small part to help, we are providing THREE vetted sources that can be used to help provide relief to India … we have donated personally and also as Stillness Speaks to PATH, CARE, and some of the GoFundMe campaigns below …
Despite the financial challenges that are amongst us all, if your situation allows you to donate then please visit one of the following sources … and contribute whatever is possible …
… Deliver oxygen where it’s needed the most through PATH – a global team of innovators working to accelerate health equity so all people and communities can thrive …
… Provide essential hospital services, more health workers, additional beds, oxygen supply, and much more through CARE (and their CARE India chapter) – for 75 years, CARE has led the way to a better life for the world’s most vulnerable people ….
… Donate to India COVID-19 fundraisers on GoFundMe – all fundraisers have been verified by GoFundMe’s Trust & Safety team and will be updated as new fundraisers are created and verified. All GoFundMe fundraisers are backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee which ensures that all funds on this page will go to those affected by India’s COVID-19 surge …
May the insights offered here help you embrace the essence of meditation … and live your daily life accordingly …
And may you remain safe and healthy as you navigate this global crisis …