In the foothills beyond town, toward where Paradise used to be, snow coats the slopes like granulated sugar. I walk downstream to the meditation site on the creek, which is swollen and furiously flowing from recent storms. Will continuity prevail, or will negation and newness prevail?
It’s amazing how the limited, two-dimensional known overtakes the limitless, multi-dimensional unknown. Even after a tremendous meditation, during which one leaves the stream of the known, transcends death and feels intimations of immortality, the known soon returns.
Many so-called meditation teachers say they have ‘attained enlightenment,’ and no longer experience such ‘stream crossings.’ But they are fooling themselves and their gullible followers. There are very few actually illumined human beings walking the Earth at present.
I recall a time when the known world of science and technology, as well as tradition and culture, still conveyed a feeling of possibility and aliveness. No more.
Now we have a population, at least in America, that can’t see beyond their own self-centered pursuits of the day, and a president who twitters like a birdbrain about climate change:
“Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”
Is the man really that stupid, or is he willfully ignorant? Does Trump actually believe this rot, or is he just catering to his proverbial base? How many Americans still buy his BS, and why does the minority continue to rule?
In terms even Trump’s 5th grade mindset should understand, Jason Furtado, an assistant professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, puts it this way:
“One down day on the Dow Jones doesn’t mean the economy is going to trash. One cold day doesn’t suddenly mean that the general trend in global climate change is suddenly going in the opposite direction.”
The problem with framing the ecological crisis in terms of climate change is that while the crisis is unfolding incredibly quickly in evolutionary terms, it seems to be happening in slow motion in human terms. Scientists are unable to bridge this gap, and therefore the POTUS steps into the vacuum with his vacuous denialist tweets.
The issue goes much deeper than the climate change framework. In fact, climate change has become almost allegorical, a metaphor for man’s impact on the Earth and people’s capacity to care about the Earth and about future generations.
Framing the ecological crisis in terms of climate change is therefore a huge mistake. It allows humans, which are natural-born avoiders and procrastinators, to avoid and put off the enormity and urgency of the challenge. The preponderance of attention should be given to what people would care about—the rapid extinction of the animals with whom we share the Earth.
The sad fact is that most people simply no longer give a damn. Many have children now not because they want to give them a better future than they had, but as insurance against their own age, and a buffer against the isolation and alienation of American and Western ‘civilization.’
Meditation is not an escape from these truths, but the transcending of them. The difficulty is that temporarily leaving the stream of the stultifying known becomes less and less adequate. Can one ignite insight with others, and leave the stream irrevocably? Or is it the other way around?
The beauty of the today’s light, coming after a string of gray and rainy days, provides the answer to my initial question. The sun shines through the bare trees across the creek, and as I listen and watch without the observer judging and interpreting, the mind-as-thought folds its wings and falls silent.
The world of nature ceases being filtered through the symbols and memories of thought and experience, and the world of man ceases to press heavily upon the heart. The immediacy of life, which is always of the present, is seen and felt again.
Still, it’s strange how powerful the known is, and how rarely people leave its polluted stream. Why is that? Is it because the known is more than all the knowledge we have accumulated, plus all the experience we have individually accumulated?
Is it because the known has become an avalanche, the crushing weight of the past passed down from generation to generation?
There was a time when experience didn’t suffocate the heart and spirit. Now, however, it’s become essential to regularly leave the known to be renewed, and simply to feel alive again.
For me personally, I’m asking, why does the brain revert and return to the known after leaving the stream during meditation?
Lefevremartin77 at gmail.com