Meditating for Love

Last night I finished reading Sally Kempton's wonderful gem of a book, Meditation for the Love of It. She acknowledges the reason we meditate is simply because "we are ultimately in it for love."

I thoroughly enjoyed this work, but found the last few chapters particularly helpful because they accurately addressed many of my current experiences. I felt blanketed in the comfort of what Kempton keenly observes and affirms, and the needed insights supplied, that will fortify me on this continual path toward deepening meditation...

For example, Kempton wisely observes and echoes great meditation masters in affirming that:

"The most important signs of spiritual progress are revealed in our character, our ability to maintain equanimity, our power to keep the mind clear and still, our compassion and kindness, our clarity, and our capacity to hold our center."

And truly, what else is there in this journey we call life?

Kempton reminds her readers over and over again, that the practice of meditation does not proceed in a linear fashion. Sometimes it involves taking a step backward, for every one we take forward. Sometimes physical or emotional pain are signs of inward purification. We sit and we seek union with the Divine, whom Kabir recognized, was simply, "the breath within the breath..."

Meditation is not easy. Sometimes it will unearth and dig out strongly held "samkaras," memories, and tendencies we work a whole lifetime to release and eradicate. But if we stick to our work and our commitment to this practice - which is an intense labor of love - we will experience its richly rewarding fruits. However, this may take years, and in many, if not most instances, at least a decade of dedicated practice, morning and evening, without fail...

Hidden within us, behind our thoughts, is always, the Light of Pure Awareness. We merge with this Awareness, the Divine, whatever we choose to call it - and let go of all notions of separation and duality. We enter sometimes unexpectedly, into this Fourth State, or "Turiya" state that the yogic sages described, aware that we simply are one with the Divine, as our heartbeats chime the mantra, "I am. I am. I am," deeply and silently within our hearts...

All of this ultimately is an act of grace. The yoga I practice, Anusara Yoga, begins with a simple dictate, an invitation to surrender, all that I know, and think, and am - and simply, "open to grace," in acknowledgment that no change, and transformation can begin without my participation and receptivity.

I was also comforted in knowing, as Kempton reminds her readers,

"People who meditate can be just as subject to ups and downs as anyone else. The major differences lie in their attitude toward their mood and tendencies, and in the resources they have to deal with them. They know a core part of them is untouched by the emotional weather..."

Of course, she also observes:

"Living from your own center takes effort...When you see life as an ongoing spiritual training you live inside a view that lends significance to even the most ordinary interactions. You don't think so much in terms of winning or losing...instead there is...the consistent effort to come back to the love and lucidity you carry inside, and to bring the values of your inner world into your outer actions..."

Furthermore, the practice reveals and reminds us of the great Truth, which is simply "the Truth of oneness."

Kempton continues her exquisite and brilliant mapping of a life lived in meditation, by instructing:

"Much of the work of meditation takes place underground, and much of it is imperceptible. That is one reason we measure our progress in the subtle ways in which a regular meditation practice changes our feelings about ourselves and the world."

I would add, this happens almost unexpectedly at times, often manifesting itself in very nuanced ways...Meditation finds our stuff, holds up the mirror to where we need to do the work, and then invites us to walk through all the needed doors and even blazing fires. In time, we will discern a greater clarity, and lightness in all things. And wonderfully, the Bhagavad Gita reminds us:

"In this practice, no effort is ever lost.
Even a little of this practice
protects one from great fear."

As Kempton notes, over the course of time, perhaps in a decade or more - we "ripen" like the fruit of the trees or the vine - we are fashioned into something purely delectable. We let go - and the fruits come into maturity and are revealed, in their own time...

What or whom do we seek in meditation? We seek our Beloved, our true Self, our Awareness, the Truth, and we discover universes within universes, continually unfolding, as we are transmuted, experience by experience until there is nothing left but the very incarnation of Divine Love in our ever willing and receptive hearts...

I think of this, on this Palm Sunday, falling on a full moon and signaling the beginning of Holy Week for Christians, and the observance of Passover by our Jewish brothers and sisters.

For me, the Incarnation is simply a constant reminder, that Love is all there is... And meditation as a spiritual practice, allows all of us - Christian and Jew, Hindu and Buddhist, Muslim and Sufi, and the rest of us - to drink and be nourished from this font of Divine Love...


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