When the great mystic poet Rumi was asked, “How should one meditate?” his reply was simply, “Close your eyes and surrender.”
Entering the unknown
Meditation is a conscious practice of letting go of the mind. That means consciously entering into a space in which we authentically and literally know nothing.
This is a very practical way of understanding what might otherwise be spoken about as entering into the divine mystery, or as it has been referred to in classic literature, the cloud of unknowing.
We live in a culture in which knowing is referred above almost all else. Most of us have an intense aversion to the uncertainty and insecurity of not knowing.
When it comes to matters of significance to use we only feel comfortable when we know. As soon as we realize that we don’t know a tremendous need to find out arises in us.
Knowing feels safe. Not knowing feels frightening and dangerous.
When we meditate we enter into the unknown by letting go of the mind and this journey from knowing to not knowing necessitates a profound faith in life because it requires us to give up control.
That is what is so terrifying – giving up control.
Closing our eyes and surrendering.
Letting everything be as it is.
Leap of Faith
Without a tremendous degree of faith it’s impossible to let everything be as it is without any attempt to control or manipulate our experience in any way.
What you need to have faith in is the inherent goodness of life.
You need to know that it’s safe to give up control.
If you don’t feel safe giving up control – if you are in any way to any degree convinced that you need to defend yourself against life – then it will be impossible to let go of control; it will be impossible to let things be as they are.
If you are uncertain about the inherent goodness of life it wouldn’t make any sense to let go.
The great realizers of all traditions throughout all time unanimously tell us that it is safe to let go.
Yet, we still find it incredibly challenging to have faith, and for good reason. We’ve all been hurt, we’ve all experienced the pain and suffering of life.
The fact that life is inherently good doesn’t mean that pain and suffering do not exist. It means that despite the existence of pain and suffering, there is an overarching goodness to the whole process of being alive.
I would ask you to contemplate for yourself: how much do you trust life?
Give up control
How ready are you to give up control?
Why is it that we think that we can avoid pain and suffering through control and manipulation when the great wisdom of most spiritual traditions tell us that our efforts to manipulate and control are actually the cause of suffering and pain?
Our struggle to control life is making the experience of pain and suffering worse, not better.
Meditation gives us the opportunity to let go, to give up control and discover that life is trustworthy. The universe that gave us life is not out to get us. In spite of the fact that things happen that cause pain and suffering life is fundamentally good.
The recognition that life is fundamentally a benevolent process is one way to understand enlightenment. When we see that life is good we can finally relax into being here.