BEGINNING A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE (Series)
The Place of Illuminated Silence - 3
What we think about things and what those things really are, are two different things.
What we feel about ourselves and others, and what is really true of ourselves and others, are two different things.
In working with the mind as part of a spiritual practice, we become more clear and are more able to truly see ourselves, others, and the rest of life without the overlaying emotional and mental commentary that is generally present in our observation of life.
Most people are not intentionally false. Yet, the thoughts and feelings that color reality often detract from a truthful perception of what is, influencing our response to daily events in ways that create perceptual filters. These filters veil or obscure the reality of what is actually before us. Becoming clear involves being able to separate from this stream of unbidden thought that colors perception, and, instead, to locate an inner space where peace and quiet live and in which greater truth can be found.
This inner space is a location within every consciousness, no matter how turbulent, no matter how filled with other things that must be attended to. It is a space that exists by virtue of being a soul and a child of the Divine, one in which silence can bring forth new perceptions and a new sense of innocence, light, and blessing.
In order to reach this space, what is required is a way of letting go of the mind so that it is no longer central to our experience. This letting go need not be complete at first. There can be chattering voices off in the distance and thoughts that we will return to once we have resumed our ordinary activity. But for the moment, the inner space of illuminated silence is one that we can rest in, surrounded by gentleness, open to the presence of unexpected things – answers to a problem that we may have found difficult to arrive at before; or a sense of tranquility, acceptance and peace; or the quiet feeling of love that exists as a spiritual atmosphere. Each of these qualities may be found by going within and resting there for a while.
There are many kinds of spiritual practices. Some focus on techniques of varying degrees of complexity for taking one deeply into the inner space beyond the mind. Others presume that the means for doing so already exist as a path of inner knowing, and it is just a matter of allowing the remembrance to re-emerge.
Some practices focus on the breath, and allow the rest to open of its own accord. The reason this is possible is simple: it is because breathing is both a practical act which replenishes the blood and cells of our body with oxygen, and a spiritual act in which we take in Divine and holy light which links us with the spiritual worlds.
Connecting with one's sacred inner space can therefore be as simple as breathing. However, in order for this to be the case, we must let go of other things so that we can actually pay attention to our breathing. The repetition of a spiritual practice allows us to do this repeatedly so that the mind begins to release its capacity to command center stage, and ultimately becomes docile and gentle as a lamb.
When we are able to move just a little toward the inner silence in which the mind is less active, it becomes possible to focus attention either on the breath or on a thought, word, or phrase that is meaningful to us in order to center ourselves within the quiet of our inner space and to deepen our experience. The word, thought, or phrase we choose can be one that we have read or heard that we repeat to ourselves. Or, it can be a word that has established itself as part of a sacred tradition – one that already carries a powerful vibration because of the many people who have uttered it in a sacred way. Whichever we choose – whether to use a sacred word or to just breathe and feel the energy carried on the breath, or any other form of meditative practice, we have within us a way to release the mind and to enter a reality that will bring us to our deepest spiritual core.
A spiritual practice that involves working with the mind in this way, when practiced regularly, will do a great deal to help with spiritual deepening. It is not everything, for there is also part of a practice that involves bringing meditative experience into one's interaction with the world. But it is a way to begin to separate the wheat from the chaff, the false from the true, so that we can begin to live life in accordance with the deepest and truest principles that our hearts know and that our minds can consent to. These principles come from our sacred humanity and reside in the deepest origins of our being blessed and holy children of God.
Article Section - Purification
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