Meditation cannot begin until the brain lets go of its attachment to the observer. No trick or technique can cause it to do so. Only undivided observation loosens the bonds and ends the grooves of separation. Why is it so difficult to let go? What is it about the human mind that keeps us attached to beliefs, people, and problems?
It appears as though the brain, dominated by so-called higher thought, is almost wired to attach itself to things. Obviously attachment is a function of the self. As long as there is the emotionally held idea of a separate self, there will be attachment with all its problems.
In meditation, experience is perceived as an unbroken flow of inner and outer movement. Then why is there a seemingly separate self that experiences things as happening to it? Why do we experience things from a center that is more or less fixed, a center that interprets, judges, evaluates, and then acts, when in actuality, there is no separate entity that stands apart from anything?
If there is no sense of self, there is no basis for attachment. Therefore attachment is a function of the ‘me,’ the ego, the self at the center of our experience.
The expression, ‘my thoughts’ is not merely redundant; it is existentially and neurologically erroneous. And yet the ‘me’ seems to have tremendous validity. Why does the brain, using thought, fabricate a separate self, and hold onto it as if it was life itself, when the self doesn’t actually exist?
Is it that, in the absence of insight into the nature of thought, the mechanism of the self is necessary to bring some semblance of order and stability to the chaos of thought? In other words, the brain stores experience, and a program called ‘me’ makes sense of all the information.
Another possibility is that as humans evolved conscious thought, the survival mechanism became deeply linked to concepts of identity. Instead of realizing that ‘I am my thoughts,’ and ‘thought is not actuality,’ and ‘the word is not the thing,’ there is the subconscious and emotionally held idea that ‘I am not my thoughts, but a separate and permanent entity.’
From this psychological basis, the idea of permanence, and the fear of death, are inevitable. Separate selfhood, identification, survival, attachment, permanence, and fear of death are mixed up together, and form the psychological basis of our quickly eroding humanness.
Thought-based consciousness has become utterly dysfunctional, both individually and collectively. Authentic meditation opens the door to another type of consciousness altogether.
To awaken meditation, one begins by negating division in observation–the illusory observer or watcher. If one doesn’t think in terms of ‘my mind’ (which reinforces division in observation) awareness ends the observer, and one watches the movement of thought as it is —as a single movement of memory and association.
Thought is a single stream, which habitually separates itself from nature, the world, and itself. Sitting quietly, after attuning to your environment, ask oneself, ‘is the observer operating?’
In doing so, and passively watching the mind separate itself from itself, attention comes more and more deeply to the infinite regression of psychological separation. Awareness quickens, thought slows, and division ends.
And when the habit and sense of separateness ends, thought naturally falls silent. That is meditation.
It’s near dusk, and the parkland is teeming with Cooper’s hawks. One of the large, brown, stipple-winged raptors takes off from the path ahead of me with some small animal in its mouth.
Another, perched on a branch overhanging the park road, drops from the limb and screeches incessantly as it glides in a straight, level flight path down the road. A few minutes later, a couple walking ahead of me stop and turn around to watch a raptor alight high in a sycamore tree.
For the last 20 minutes of a sitting by the stream, a gray squirrel chatters away in a tree behind me. Consciousness is like that squirrel prattling on, impervious to awareness.
Complementing the comic play of the chattering squirrel, four small boys on bikes go by, two of them still in training wheels. They shout and make meaningless verbal noises without pause the way little boys do. Their non-stop sound effects serve a purpose however, since any silence breaks the bond between them.
Being creatures of thought, we fear any break in thought, because thought provides the basis and bonds of our lives. It’s not only a baseless fear however; it’s an increasingly catastrophic one.