I was glad that I chose to wear my wet suit for the morning dive. The sea at Dutchman’s Reef was still a little chilly but I was comfortable. Just out of Mt. Irvine Bay off Tobago Island the morning sun easily penetrated the shallow water. The red and golden coral stretched out like a multi-colored canvas blanketing the sea bed. Sponges, sea urchins and anemones, and the ever abundant staghorn coral filled just about every nook and cranny of free space on the reef.
Looking up I could see herons and gannets diving into the water in search of food. I waved to my diving companions to indicate that everything was ok. My air regulator was working well at this depth, and the gage indicated that I had more than half a tank left. I was sitting on the rocky bottom watching the bubbles rise majestically to the surface. I had seen this a hundred times before but never really took notice – how the bubbles start out small and get bigger as they rise up closer to the surface. A glorious journey from the deep rising up to embrace the wondrous sun lit world above.
High school science clarifies for us that bubbles are smaller at deeper levels because the water pressure is greater there. As the bubble rises the pressure acting on it becomes less, allowing it to expand. When the bubble hits the surface it explodes in an array of cascading droplets.
Every thought that we have starts at its source. Deep within the unconscious mind can be found the field of pure consciousness, latent intelligence. All thought starts there. It sprouts as an impulse (energy) with direction (intelligence). At first in an early stage it appears to be ill formed, diffuse and not very distinct. It’s more of a push rather than a formed idea. But as the thought filters up through the various layers of our consciousness it becomes more concrete and solidified. When the impulse reaches our conscious mind it appears to “burst forth” on the scene of our awareness, and so we have a thought. The mind is very good at this process since we have thousands of thoughts every day.
We can use the same comparison (the rising air bubble) to illustrate the process of human thought and what happens during meditation.
Using the bubble diagram we can graphically illustrate how thought development occurs. Look at the bubbles (ellipses) in the left portion of the picture. Observe how a bubble starts out on the sea bed floor and expands as it rises to the water’s surface. The thought “Flower” starts out very indistinct and amorphous at the lower depth but matures as it rises to meet our conscious awareness.
All thought starts and forms the same way. But a person utilizing more of their mental potential will intercept thoughts closer to its source. Thoughts intercepted closer to their origin contain more energy and dynamism than thoughts intercepted farther away.
For example, in the diagram on the right hand side there are arrows marked with corresponding percentages. They represent what percentage of the mind is fully utilized (conscious). The 20% mark represents a person who is using twenty percent of their full mental potential. That person is aware of everything that is happening above the 20% line but cannot see a thing below it. The 40% mark represents a person who is using forty percent of their full mental potential. And so forth. The greater the conscious capacity of the mind, the earlier the thought is intercepted and experienced.
For those of us who are using only a small fraction of our full potential it’s not obvious that thought develops or goes through any process at all. We simply experience one thought after another, already fully formed.
Thoughts experienced at their point of inception are most life supporting and translate into harmonious and successful action.
The source of thought; is absolute, pure consciousness, being.
This diagram also helps to elucidate what happens in the mind during different types of meditation practices.
Contemplation – thinking about the meaning of words and ideas; like swimming back and forth on the surface level of thinking.
Concentration – focusing on one specific thing; like treading water, bobbing up and down in the same place, on the surface level of thinking.
Transcendence – allowing the mind to naturally go beyond itself and transcend the thought process; diving inward to expand conscious capacity.
There are thousands of different practices, almost as many as there are people in the world. But over the course of time various cultures have recognized certain techniques to be more effective than others. These have been selected out and packaged into the cherished traditions that we have today. Although a system may claim to be “the one true way,” I think that it’s important for everyone to choose for themselves. What’s essential is that you find a meditation practice that you are comfortable with, and continue to practice it on a regular basis.
We are all on a spiritual journey. Human growth and evolution marches forward. We may not recognize or acknowledge it, but the basic human desire for happiness and fulfillment propels us toward enlightenment. The irresistible force of nature continuously pushes us forward. If we follow nature’s lead we do well, when we cross natures path we experience suffering.
Adding meditation to our daily routine is like sprinkling fertilizer on the process.
For those who don’t know where the journey ends or they see the goal as insurmountable, the idea is often forwarded that the journey itself is the most important part. However, I see both as being important; how we move forward and to which goal are we headed.
When we’re traveling from Baltimore to San Francisco there are many paths and modes of transportation that we can take. We may choose to walk, bicycle, drive the car, take a train, or buy a seat on an airplane. All of these different methods may get us to our final destination. However, some means of transportation are faster and more comfortable than others.
Every day we make a choice to meditate or not to meditate. Choose a practice, follow it consistently and move forward.
Visit the source of thought every day to unfold your full potential and live the abundant life that is your destiny.