I teach a form of meditation that can act as a leverage point to catapult you into a different reality.
In order to open ourselves up to the profound spiritual transformation that meditation makes possible we must begin to realize that our perception of reality is made up of a hopeless tangle of sensation and interpretation.
In other words, what we assume to be reality as we look out at the world is not objectively real in the way we’ve been taught.
It is a perception of reality interpreted through a lens of ideas and attitudes that we have acquired through our personal experience and inherited from the culture we live in. And to a large existent we are blind to the ideas and attitudes that are shaping our experience of reality.
The journey of spiritual transformation can be seen as an escape from our current set of assumptions about reality.
As we will see in this book the practice of meditation is an invaluable aid to spiritual transformation because it allows us to relax our habits of interpretation so we can see beyond them.
If our interest in meditation is fueled by a desire to transform at the deepest levels of our being then it is essential that we deconstruct some of our assumptions about what is real before we begin to explore the practice.
Otherwise our meditation practice will remain embedded in the very same set of assumptions that we want to be liberated from.
Process of Deconstruction
One way to begin the process of deconstruction is to realize that almost all of us believe in an outdated myth.
This myth is the unconscious belief that we are standing on some solid ground of truth from which the rest of our understanding is built.
This belief gives us confidence in what we think is true, because we assume that underneath our ideas about reality there is something authentically real.
Look around you right now. Don’t you assume that you are looking at reality. You assume that the things you see are actually real things.
In fact, the reality of what you see is what differentiates reality from dreams.
In a dream we see things that we think are real, but when we wake up we realize that none of it actually was. The dream was an illusion of reality created by our minds.
Dreams Vs. Reality
Spiritual transformation is often compared to waking up from a dream in the sense that when you wake up spiritually you realize that so much of what you thought was real never was.
So much of reality was simply constructed by the filtering and interpreting habits of our minds.
In order to pursue meditation to the depths of awareness that will allow us to see the illusion of the only reality we have ever known requires a profound commitment and penetrating clarity of intention.
In order to cultivate the depth commitment and clarity of intention necessary we must first know beyond any doubt that we are not seeing reality as it is.
The 20th Century philosopher Wilfred Sellers coined the phrase The Myth of the Given to describe our underlying assumption of a reality that exists independent of our perception of it.
Sellers described The Myth of the Given as the belief that underneath our perceptions, conceptions, derivations and interpretations about reality, there is something that is objectively true and independently real serving as the foundation of it all.
The assumption that when we look out at the world we are looking at something real that exists out there separate and apart from us, is the primary obstacle to spiritual transformation.
Why? Because the belief that I am an independent entity looking out at a world that is separate from me is the core of the illusion that we want to be free from.
This is the initiation point of the illusion of separation that keeps us from realizing the inherent unity and wholeness of life.
To go just a bit further with this inquiry I want you to realize that the experience you are having right now as you look at this book, or scan the room in front of you, is, as the philosopher William James put it, thick with interpretation.
You think you are looking at a room, but there is no such thing as a room.
A room is an idea, a concept.
We think it is a real thing because we are trained to interpret our experience in terms of our conception of reality.
We live in a conceptualized world.
If we just stick to our visual perception we can see this.
Look out at the world. What do you see?
What do you really see?
You might think you are looking at chairs, and books, and tables, and carpets, but are you really?
What do you really see? Isn’t it all just shapes and colors? Isn’t everything else an interpretation?
Sensation Vs. Perception
As we get started in our transformative mystical journey we have to realize that there is a difference between sensation and perception.
We are trained to filter and interpret our sensations to form meaningful perceptions of the world. We take the shapes and colors in front of us and turn it into a chair.
What happens when you see something that you have never seen before? You don’t have any conception about what it is and so you look more deeply.
You see more fully what is there. If at some point you realize what you are looking at, your senses relax.
When we talk about meditation we often talk about beginner’s mind.
On the one hand this means always being a beginner in meditation so that you never get too comfortable in the practice so your senses always remain alert and full.
At a deeper level meditation invites us to become innocent about life. It means seeing everything including ourselves as if for the first time, free of preconceptions and assumptions.
The whole point here is to say it is natural that we will want to approach our meditation practice using the same tools of logic and rationality that have served us so well in other parts of our life, but those tools will not serve us in the quest for spiritual transformation.
As we embark on the journey of transformation we will naturally want to build on our current understanding of reality, but path will not ultimately work.
The shift in awareness that meditation offers is so fundamental that it can only be experienced wholesale. It is an instantaneous flip into a new way of seeing.
You can’t work into step by step. It just happens and a strong meditation practice makes it more likely to happen.
Very beautiful explanation about perception and reality. I am myself practicing zazen sitting meditation and it really transformed my life, however the most challenging is to use meditation in the every day life, applying it to relationships and work – definitely it is easier to use the right perception during my practice than in real reality.
Jeff C says
Hello Natalia, Yes beginner’s mind is easier when sitting quietly than it is when we are engaged with circumstances in life. It is so natural for us to bring all of our assumptions and preconceptions into every situation and then see through those. I have found that my eyes remain more fresh as my practice deepens. I hope you find the same.