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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Just above Emotions, Just below Reasoning


Calm abiding state in meditation seems to take place just above the level of emotions and just below the rationality of the mind. Meditation at the lowest level of intellect, without reasoning, without inner dialogue, just above the level of awareness of living and breathing where there is just bare awareness and a feeling of awe is a naturally blissful state. A sense of mystery is the abiding attitude at that state.

This is the state Buddha found  when he was a young boy sitting under a rose-apple tree as recounted by him in Bodhirajakumara Sutta. He rediscovered it after going through the pain and suffering of ascetic practices. This state did not depend on pain and suffering and relief from them. This is a natural state all of us have all the time, if only we seek. That is what the Upanishads also point out.

This is what Ramana Maharishi meant when he asked us to keep asking who the “I” is.  He also suggested that we catch the moment of stillness and bare awareness we experience as soon as we wake up from a deep sleep. He wants us to hold on to it.

If in our practice we keep repeating a mantra and keep thinking about it and how not to let the mind wander, or we keep up an inner dialogue asking questions such as “Who am I?”, we have left the realm of mystery and humility and entered the realm of curiosity and reasoning.

With a sense of mystery, our mental functions operate with the centers at the lower part of the brain, just living and being aware of living. With curiosity and deep looking, the higher centers of the brain are functioning with questioning, answering, conceptualizing and imagining. The ego becomes prominent since we need the “I” to ask and answer the questions.

Since this blissful state of  basic awareness is available if we can let the mind be just above and beyond emotions and just below inner dialogue, why not go for it straight? That is what the wise sages say. We are all struggling because we think that it is a supernormal state we can reach only by superhuman efforts. That is because we do not know what we are looking for. That idea of looking for some special state is the hindrance. That is why Buddha says “Let go” of all concepts, including the concept of self and the concept of nirvana.

If the faculty of the “I” and the higher functions of the brain are not needed to experience the blissful state, all the animals must be capable of that state too. They will have to deal with the real world of eat or be eaten struggle. But in between, may be, they are in a blissful state.

If we can stay away from the state of curiosity and stay with the state of mystery, we are closer to the blissful state here and now. Why wait for after-life? That is the spiritual path. That is what the Upanishads and Buddhist teachings say.

We must keep the curiosity alive to live wisely in this world. But we must get back to the calm and peace of bare awareness as often as we can. And stay with that state as long as we can.

This baseline state of calm abiding awareness will come on its own after we work out our mental cobwebs created by our emotions and by constant quest for An answer. We need meditative exercises to remove the cobwebs, but not to touch our own base. It is there all the time glowing and inviting.

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