From Doubt to Discrimination
A chapter from the forthcoming book, "Meditation Is Not What You Think"...
Be vigilant that the ego “I” will always doubt the simplicity and effectiveness of the Awakening Process. It will often bring up seemingly rational objections like for example: “How can any significant change happen simply by letting everything be as it is?” “Devotional surrender to a Mystery I cannot even see isn’t going to lead too much!” “Philosophical inquiry is all very well but what about the terrible state of the world and all the unenlightened people out there?”… Beware that the ego “I” always wants to maintain its control over your psychophysical vehicle and that it will always look for covert ways to subvert the self-surrendering imperative of the authentic Awakening Process.
In the face of fear and resistance the ego “I” will often try to convince you that the path of self-improvement, in which it gets to call the shots, is preferable to the path of self-transcendence, in which the ego “I” loses control. Indeed the ego “I” will probably try to convince you that the path of self-improvement is the path of self-transcendence. By “self-improvement” I mean the psychotherapeutic mode of “working on myself”, of healing my “wounded self”, of trying to become a better person through analyzing the past and through methods and techniques that one can self-consciously apply to modify a perceived difficulty or pattern of conditioned behavior. All such approaches can reap positive changes and benefits and have their place in the spectrum of human development, but the true Awakening Process has its ground in the recognition and realization of our always already free, whole and complete True Self, as I have continually been emphasizing. A therapeutic or “self-improvement” approach to human development usually has its ground in the presumption of separate selfhood.
If you have come this far in reading this book and if the Truth of your always already free True Self has dawned within you and become self-evident to you to a significant degree, then you are in a position to embrace the evolutionary challenge of human transformation from a ground of trust in your essential wholeness and completeness and not from what might seem at times to be your essential brokenness or a gnawing sense of lack. Then, as you authentically lean into the unknown and engage this self-transcending Awakening Process and begin to deeply trust in an intelligence that far transcends the mind, you have to be ready to confront the “demons” of fear and doubt and the disowned voices of your brokenness and wounding, that will inevitably arise. The Awakening Process will bless you with revelations of transcendental beauty and bliss, but it also involves encounters with forces and energies that can be quite horrific and deeply challenging at times. The “creative friction” that is generated by sincere aspiration, practice and discipline may at times confront you with seemingly intractable resistance and turmoil as the embedded patterning of your conditioning is exposed to the Light of Consciousness. Your life may literally be turned upside down and relationships may break down as you relinquish the prejudices, expectations, assumptions and all of the deadening patterns of habit that must burn in the purifying fire of the Awakening Process.
In the face of such challenges you will recognize that when you experience the self-contraction of fear it is almost always accompanied by a temptation to doubt. If you are not very vigilant the voice of doubt will raise its head like a wily snake whispering in your ear and if you listen to it the agenda of the ego “I” can rapidly and deviously colonize your mind, insidiously co-opting your rational capacities to undermine the Awakening Process. The ego “I” when dressed in the guise of doubt makes a virtue out of asserting its independence. From the ego’s point of view a higher selfless motivation for being alive is perceived as spiritual slavery. It will gather whatever evidence it can to support its counterfeit authority and it will righteously rewrite history to affirm its agenda to claim back its independent self-existence. So you have to be very careful when doubt raises its head. If you identify with it you can easily undermine the delicacy of your newfound spiritual confidence in a source of intelligence that transcends the mind. You can easily obstruct direct access to the wellsprings of Innocence, Love, Goodness, Truth and Beauty.
Having mind-transcending faith and trust in the Awakening Process does not imply blind faith or trust, although it may look that way to the ego “I”. Doubt in the form of skeptical scrutiny and incisive questioning is an absolutely essential component on the journey, but there is an important difference between chronic doubt that protects the separate ego “I” and the right function of doubt, which progressively undermines and dismantles it. Chronic doubt can be understood as the mental expression and myopia of our unseen withdrawal and self-contraction, a subtle and anxious reflection of a more fundamental and unconscious constriction. When this root action of withdrawal and its reflection in separation and chronic doubt is truly seen and relinquished through faith, trust and surrender, then the insidious mechanism of defensive, self-protecting doubt is reconfigured into free attention. Free attention enables us to use the mind as a subtle and dexterous tool that is in service to our True Self. The mind is restored to its vital function as a ”bullshit detector” and a flexible organ for refined differentiation, nuanced understanding and discriminating wisdom.
Developing this capacity for awakened discrimination is the key to our liberating self-scrutiny. From a ground of problem free “not knowing” there springs a pure curiosity and interest that wants to know, wants to understand and wants to transform. That pure, bright, exuberant evolutionary impulse, that is the innate intelligence of Consciousness itself seeking its own expression and release, can then utilize the tool of mind to progressively unearth and expose the submerged self-images, repressed and disowned shadow aspects and unexamined assumptions and perceptual frameworks that keep us bound to a habitual, false and limited identity. You can grasp the spirit of this discriminating wisdom by applying the following questions to your self: Exactly how does my ego express itself? What is the script of self that I habitually use to justify my separation and suffering? Do I see myself as I truly am? Can I see myself as others do? Exactly what do I do to get attention? Can I see my lack of love and how I delude myself? With what degree of intelligence and sensitivity can I detect my own self-contraction and withdrawal, my avoidance of relationship, of communion, of intimacy?
If you engage in this kind of self-inquiry without a grounding in your always already Free essential Being, then you will tend to constrict into destructive patterns of self-criticism, incapacitating shame, gnawing frustration and fruitless behavior modification, because you are trying to “fix” your ego from inside the fundamental conviction of problem or dilemma that is the self-contraction of ego, instead of standing outside of it. Meditation is so essential because we need to continually reestablish our ground in prior Freedom, which is always already “outside of the box”. Then the resolute facing of difficulty can occur without closing and contracting our spiritual Heart. Indeed this is where the virtue of courage, which has its root in the Latin “Cor” meaning Heart, comes in. As we progressively become more and more grounded in and as Consciousness, in and as prior Freedom, then our Heart, our Core, fortifies us with Courage. Without courage we will not have the inner resources to confront and transcend the movements of fear, doubt and pride, which are the barriers that continually have to be crossed if we are sincere about fulfilling our longing for Liberation.
With trust, humility, courage and discrimination the Awakening Process unfolds organically, free from the manipulations and distortions of the ego “I”. As we meditate on and identify with the objectless knowing and pure joy of prior Consciousness, Freedom and Love, then that what is not meditated on, not focused on, not identified with, becomes progressively obsolete and eventually falls away. Through deepening faith and trust in the intelligence of the Awakening Process all obstructions to Freedom are outshined. The embedded strategies, mechanical chattering and patterned behaviors of the ego “I” eventually lose their binding force. Instead of being that patterning, we then simply observe and understand that patterning from the position of prior Freedom. When the ego’s interference with the natural flow of Life is clearly seen and released in any given moment then Reality or Truth is tacitly recognized and intuited. Freedom is recognized as not being an attainment that lies at the end of an arduous search or the result of the application of some technique or method, but That which is always already now and now and now.
Every such moment of liberating clarity deepens our faith in the Awakening Process. We see that there is nothing perverse or random in its exposure and destruction of illusion. As an expression of the Divine Will, the Divine Good, the Divine Unity, the Awakening Process is the working of supreme virtue and progressively frees us from identification with the ego “I”. Out of the ashes of that transformation we emerge anew as a Conscious Human Being, so that we may be available to embody and enact God’s inscrutable purpose here upon planet earth.