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Living meditation: contemplation and action

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User ID: 5850
11/09/2005 12:36 PM
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Living meditation: contemplation and action
"Silence has nothing to do with speaking or not speaking. The words flow from silence and return to silence, but the silence does not change with words or without words. It is the same for mental activity: with thoughts or without thoughts, silence is.

Silence is oneness. Breathing appears from silence and disappears into silence. Before breathing, during breathing and after breathing there is silence.

Silence is a permanent background. All activities appear in silence, in this background, and all activities disappear.

Usually when we speak about actions, most of the actions have psychological motivations: desire for security, desire for love, desire for self-esteem, desire for recognition. When there is a clear observation of the motivation for the act, it is possible at this exact moment to see that most actions come from a state of tension, of dissatisfaction.

This means that it is not a real action, it is a kind of compensation or a kind of reaction, a reaction to fear. It is not possible to change this process, it is just possible to see it very clearly at the right moment, because each desire to change the process belongs to the fear. Desire to control comes from fear.

The mind is continually looking for a solution for happiness, to create a future, to look for it in the past. Past and future are nothing more than thought.

In order for us to explore and discover what is a true action it is important to understand what is not action, what is not true action. We see that usually we go from reaction, to reaction, to another reaction.

There is a moment where a feeling arises that something is wrong: that what we are looking for really is not where we are looking for it.

If we examine attentively the nature of desire this observation will bring maturity. We think that we desire something external, we look for it and think we have found it. But after a moment, there is a new disappointment. Maybe we are not looking in a good direction.

When we examine the structure of desire, we can see that what we desire is a non-desire, because this non-desire means quietness, fullness. During this moment, the object of desire is dissolved. There is a moment of silence, a moment of stopping. There is acuity, there is attention. The understanding comes that what we are looking for really remains in this moment of non-desire, in this moment of openness. And to live this perfect openness is meditation.

Meditation is not a technique, because a technique means trying to reach something. But what we are, we cannot reach it. We can just be it. The mind functions in a process of becoming but what we are, we already are: we will never become nothing. We will never be more than what we are now, and this deeper understanding brings an end to the search. If the object of the search is already here, there is nothing more to search for.

We are like people who are looking for glasses and have forgotten that they are on our noses. Because what we are is so near, we cannot see it, we cannot grasp it. All effort to grasp it, to see it, to take it, is a kind of escape.

What is a place of action? Within silence! What does it mean, an action free of myself, an action totally free of myself, without owner? It means an action with a mind free of images about myself, about what I am. If I have no image about myself, everything is simple.

Eyes and minds can create images, but if there is no reaction with the I-image, if there is no I-image, it is without consequence. And an action free of myself is a free action. It is not an action which is related to the I-image. So the main program is to be totally free from all kinds of representation: mental representation about what we call ourself. Usually when we think that we are something - a name, a function, a work, a body, a man, a woman - it comes from the memory. It is not a real knowledge from experience. People are told: that is your name, it is your role, you are this function, you are a mother, a friend, a lover, a child, a man, a woman. And we believe this. We are sure it is our true identity.

But when the look returns to itself and asks, "Who am I if I am not what I see, if I am not this body, if I am not this I-image, this idea about myself? Who am I?"

It is possible to explain that there is no mental answer to this question because each mental answer is another box, another concept created by the mind. So there is something inside which knows, "No, this is not me." There is a truth, an inner truth that says, "It´s not you. No this is not you." There is a process of elimination, a cleansing process. What we are we cannot be represented. We are authentic, we are not an image. We are not such an identity. So when there is a question which arises, "Who is the knower of myself," if you ask it with real authenticity you will not find an answer. Silence will be the answer and this silence contains the answer. So it is possible to say that meditation is a total freedom of any kind of self-image, and this freedom from self-image gives freedom in ordinary life.

Freedom in ordinary life gives true action. It means an action without psychological motives: spontaneous action adapted to the situation. In this action, there is no more waiting: there is nothing to wait for. It acts. This acting is freedom.

The body contains all the symptoms of fear. All the tensions in the body level are a reflection of misunderstanding. So to observe this body will bring more understanding. Simply to observe it.

Usually the body does not function well, because there is a constant state of reaction, of defense, desire to control. It is possible to observe it when we are listening to breathing, just to let the body breath; to let each breathing die in the silence, to let the body be free of resistance, free of reaction, to let the body reach its natural emptiness, to let the mind reach its natural emptiness. We are without any kind of fear of the natural emptiness, of the solitude. All of this, we can check it, we can understand it only in the ordinary functioning. We will never understand all these things in the past or the future, because past and future are a mental representation. It will never be the truth. It eliminates all psychology. Psychology believes in the existence of a central entity. I am an individual entity and I live different kinds of experiences. But when the voice of the bird resonates in the depth of consciousness, where is the past, and where is the future, and where is the "I"? There is only perception. This simple perception is meditation.

This perception is free from suffering. When the psychological memory does not function, has no more interest in functioning then there is no more place for suffering. And when there is no more suffering, there is quietness. Quietness which has always been here but has been forgotten.

Real true listening means the total disappearance of what I call myself. In true listening there is only listening. In true observation there is only observation. There is no more an observer. There is no more a witness. Meditation does not belong to anybody. Listening does not belong to anybody. Personality is only a mixture of habits, conditionings, patterns, created by memory and beliefs.

We are looking for quietness because we are it. If we were not quietness we would not look for it. We are looking for quietness, for fulfillment because we are already it.

Q: I can think of kind actions and I think it is easier in a way to think about them than destructive actions, acts of violence. I think that most people who do something violent do it spontaneously and have to resolve it with the idea of spontaneity, in a sense of non-desire. I agree with this but it is like a kind of paradox. Maybe you can say something about it?

A: Violent actions are a very good example of a reaction to a state of suffering, to a state of contraction. There is a contraction, contracture, and the action is a way to release this state of suffering. True action is free of suffering: it comes only from the situation, the simple answer to the situation, without interference of what we call ´myself´.

Q: In English, and I don´t know what it is called in Hebrew or French, we call first degree murder, premeditated murder. It is as if you murder after meditating for a long time as opposed to spontaneous murder, which is called third degree murder, where you just lost control at that moment. It is interesting that the word which has become associated with the most violent act is ´premeditative´.

A: I think that this premeditation is a kind of quest for happiness and the murderer is fundamentally looking for happiness through the murder. The murder is the way of releasing the state of suffering, releasing the state of angry and tension. It means that the murder belongs to the quest for happiness.

Q: That´s pretty heavy!

A: Yes! If you speak to murderers you will see that after the murders they experienced a great state of quietness, a very great state of fulfillment and it is very similar for all of them. All murderers will explain this same thing. They feel a very great state of quietness. It is this quietness they are looking for.

Q: You talked about fear and reaction. Could you talk about love with violence in action?

A: Love is a real motive for action. There is no action without love. The murderer also loves: he loves his own well-being. He loves his tranquillity, his quietness. It´s not possible to avoid love: it´s everywhere.

Q: What I´m asking is this: for a certain amount of time you meditate, and you define that during this meditation you are going to be free. You have the intention to do it and you can do it for a defined amount of time. But, can you be absolutely certain that you have reached a state where your mind doesn´t take control? I know about mind and desire and I don´t know where the line is drawn between them: they are very strong and very deceitful. You may think that you have conquered them and that you are free but actually after a certain amount of time when you look back you see that no, you have not. Can you come to a state where you are absolutely certain that you have achieved that?

A: Yes, certainly. The experiences of life will teach you. All our false beliefs will be destroyed by the experiences of life. If you are authentic in the observation of your functioning you will see very clearly if there is a personal reaction or if there is no more personal reaction. Life will bring you some different circumstances which will teach you, which will bring you teaching. Each situation can be a teaching.

Q: That´s not what I´m saying. How can you know afterwards? You don´t know while you are at it. When you look back you know that either you had an experience or you hadn´t. I´m not sure how you know about it while you are living this situation. You say that life will tell you, but it only tells you when you look back.

A: It´s good to observe with great acuity that there is a moment when you come into the old patterns of the personality and the more you observe the moment of entrance into the patterns of the personality the more you will know immediately. It means that you´ll feel immediately that there is a return to the old patterns. At the right moment that you look at it, you will be out of it.

Q: Dr. Mantel, can you please explain a little bit more to me if there is any essential difference between the perennial philosophy or the prescription you have given and the psychology of Skinner boxes in the laboratory. It was a dominant psychology in the academic United States some forty years ago.

A: What do they say?

Q: That in the study of psychology one should not refer to mind, memory and personality, only to actions as reaction to the situation as it is.

A: So they are speaking of meditation.

Q: Well, Allen Watts remarked that he was a great meditator, this Skinner.

A: What is Skinner? Ah, he is a person! Well yes, maybe he was speaking about this. It´s possible!

Q: I was not too happy with your description of personality. I say this because I think it is something that is totally fluid, as though we really are individuals. But, we become, by our life, by our free choices and by our insight, a personality. There can be some changes in our personality but I think it is very precious. You have described it in a way that I could not totally prescribe to.

A: We are growing in the belief that we are a personality. But it is no more than a belief.

Q: You said that love is in every action. What about actions done out of duty?

A: Love of duty!

Q: Ah, a love of duty.

A: Yes!

Q: I want to strengthen what Rabbi Zeller was connecting on because I felt the same thing. It began half a year ago when we first met and you told me about the conference, and now, hearing you speak. So, I felt also that there is a great deal of power in the stillness and in the silence and in what you´ve said and in the whole conference that you´ve brought together. I´ve felt a number of times during the conference that people came together with a spiritual strength and a search for love and that you had done this. Yet there was something throughout your speech, as Naomi also mentioned, that was striking me wrong because I came here as a Jew. Perhaps what you were describing was something universal. It´s like the air or the water without any taste, without any flavor. Coming as a Jew, I felt that it was a very important and powerful beginning but there was something lacking. We´ve developed throughout Judaism, throughout our tradition, a concept that brings out the flavor and the color to the neutral water or the all pervasive silence which is the basis for all that exists: for the transcendental silence, the ´ein´ or the ´ein soph´. But we don´t relate to the ´ein soph´ as something abstract: it is too difficult for us in the time of Hillel and the Halacha. The decision was made, as Rabbi Zeller has said, that in the future there will be a time when Shammai will be accepted, but yet, each night we need to light another candle and another candle. The silence is important and the stillness can exist but the additional layers that people can swim in and can find more meaning in will enhance the non-duality that you are talking about. They will express it in a way that will enable each person to express his individuality with more fullness.

A: The fraction will never understand and know what is beyond the fraction, the part. The small cannot know the infinite but the infinite can know the fraction. The fraction cannot know the infinite. We are not a fraction. We only think that we are it.

Q: Define what you mean by love! You said that someone loves duty. What do you mean by love? You said that a murderer can love something. What do you mean? If someone does an action out of duty and you say he loves the duty, what do you mean?

A: What we really love is love itself. When you say, "I love you", you don´t love the body or the image you have in front of you, or what you think you have in front of you. What you love is love! You love the love itself, not the idea, but the love itself.

Q: But you´re using the word ´love´ to define it.

A: We can´t define love. It will be only a concept. Love is not a concept. You will never put love in a mental box.

Q: We can come very close to understanding some of it.

A: To understanding what? You cannot understand love: you can be one with it.

Q: How can you use the word?

A: The word is an expression of the reality, but it is not the reality.

Q: I used to be in love with this type of theory some years ago. What I noticed was that when I told a woman who loved me that I didn´t exist it threw her into a panic. So somehow, in order to be on good terms with other people, I moved away from it, not the nice essential truth of it.

A: But if you really know that you don´t exist, you don´t need to speak about it."

Check here for more articles and texts by Dr. Jean-Marc Mantel
John  (OP)

User ID: 5850
11/09/2005 12:37 PM
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Re: Living meditation: contemplation and action
"Beyond a technique, meditation is an art of living. What does it mean to live without conflict? First observe that we live more or less constantly in a state of defense, of internal contracture. This habit is deeply rooted in psychosomatic structure. We can observe that the forehead is contracted as soon as some worrisome thoughts arise, that shoulders rise with the rhythm of mental activity, that the abdomen does not breathe freely, that the muscles of the arms have difficulties releasing their habit of grasping and seizing.

Starting from this objective fact (the body does not lie), we continue our exploration to the level of listening and observation. To listen simply to what is, without qualifying, is a forgotten function. To look without naming or comparing, to feel the body without refusing or accepting are unusual attitudes. There is therefore a constant interference of the intellect in some functions as natural as breathing, feeling, listening and observation.

Our functioning is thus disturbed by the desire to escape suffering, to perpetuate agreeable moments or to grasp happiness.

Because happiness is perceived as something external, it is looked for in situations, beings and objects.

A more attentive investigation shows us that situations only catalyze something that is already in us. How could we look for joy or quietness if they were not already here?

Meditation is this conscious returning to this primordial quality of being that is the even source of harmony and plenitude. It concerns an up-stream ascent, as a boat that would sail against the current of a river. What we are seeking is already present The intuition of this will be used as a guide. The look searches in the world of forms, then returns to the world without form. It perceives there what it seeks. The quest ends. The body relaxes and the mind is resorbed in the silence.

Most of our actions have psychological motives : need of fondness, attention, desire of power or security. They therefore come from a state of suffering that we seek to pacify through the action and its result.

What would an action without psychological motivation mean? We are often confronted with situations that need an answer. The answer can come from an inner reaction of impatience or anger. But it can also come from the perception of a demand. The situation needs a reply, an action. Inwardly, there is no emotional reaction. No pleasure of acting, no displeasure, no waiting. What must be done is done. The personality is then in the background. The action is not related to an egocentric self-esteem. The action is lived in a neutral and non affective way. It is not an insensibility. A deep quietness lives in the comprehension. This quietness is not concerned with the action and its results. Quietness is present before, during and after the action. Quietness is beyond pleasure and displeasure, refusal and acceptance.

This immutable tranquillity, non affected by circumstances, is meditation. Present in action and non-action, it constitutes the foundation of an harmonious and adapted way of living. Free of conflict, free of suffering, I am what I am looking for. The seeker is the searched."
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/09/2005 05:34 PM
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Re: Living meditation: contemplation and action
Anonymous Coward
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11/09/2005 06:34 PM
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Re: Living meditation: contemplation and action
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