meditation and spiritual growth

The Hatfields and the McCoys went through many years of turmoil before coming to the realization that forgiveness is a basis for healing and moving forward after conflict.

Meditation is a tool that can help us through difficult times. Regular practice builds a solid personal foundation for love and caring action so that situations do not escalate into conflict. Avert the danger that has not yet come.

Other famous long lasting feuds have not ended as well:

Elizabeth I, Queen of England, and Mary, Queen of Scots:
Queen Elizabeth I imprisoned her cousin Mary for nearly 20 years. She condemned Mary to death after evidence was presented that Mary was involved in an assassination plot. Mary was beheaded in February 1587.

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr:
Years of personal and political rivalry culminated with a duel on the morning of July 11, 1804. Hamilton, the former secretary of the treasury was shot and fatally wounded by Burr, who was the vice president of the United States at the time.

Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky:
After Vladimir Lenin’s death Stalin and Trotsky vied for power. Stalin outmaneuvers Trotsky, leading to Trotsky’s expulsion from the Communist Party, exile from the Soviet Union and assassination in Mexico in 1940.

Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine:
These sisters had a difficult relationship for many years. In 1941 both were nominated for the Oscar for best actress. Fontaine’s win sparked an all-out feud that the sisters, now both in their 90s, continue to this day.

… and there are still too many wars between nations.

Conflicts arise due to limited personal perspective and the ego’s feeling of vulnerability.

The intellect, mind and senses paint the picture of the world that we appear to live in.

When we are driven by desire and self personal gain we sometimes come across another person whose actions may be opposed to ours. They may be guided by the same motivations, but due to a different perspective on life their actions are in opposition. To avoid conflict it’s best to refrain from being judgmental and to partake in critical speech.

Thoughts and ideas are mental constructs created in the field of time and space. They are transitory and are like a house of cards that come tumble down at any time.

But more subtle than senses is mind, yet finer than mind is intellect, and that which is beyond the intellect is the SELF.

1960s anti-war peace symbol

Patanjali (author of the Yoga Sutras) and other noted scholars have categorized the experience of inner silence (Samadhi) in meditation into two primary stages, silence that is non-permanent (lost during waking, dreaming, and sleeping) and silence that is permanent.

In meditation we experience all four types of Savikalpa Samadhi (non-permanent) and begin to grow by degrees in Nirvikalpa Samadhi (permanent).

Stages of non-permanent Savikalpa Samadhi:

1) In meditation we experience a degrees of inner silence; if practicing transcendence the mantra begins to become finer and finer.

2) In meditation we experience deep inner silence; if practicing transcendence the mantra ceases to be a specific thought and becomes only a rhythm or hum.

3) In meditation we experience greater degrees of bliss and happiness; if practicing transcendence the mantra’s humming sound is gone and you are left in a glow, the experience of bliss consciousness.

4) In meditation we experience the sense “I am” pure consciousness; if practicing transcendence the glow appears as pure consciousness.

When this last stage becomes uninterrupted by waking, dreaming or sleeping, then the nature of the mind as pure consciousness has fully developed.

The result is permanent (Nirvikalpa Samadhi) which is Enlightenment, or Cosmic Consciousness (CC).

Peace Mandala

Our cherished traditions offer us lessons in the value of forgiveness. Here are some examples.

A Course in Miracles:
Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about yourself returns to your memory.

Forgiveness, as the means to remembering God, is the fundamental message of A Course in Miracles. It teaches that forgiveness is not simply the letting go of resentment, but rather forgiveness is awakening to eternal “vision” and remembering that there is nothing “real” (eternal) to resent.

“It is forbidden to be obdurate and not allow yourself to be appeased. On the contrary, one should be easily pacified and find it difficult to become angry. When asked by an offender for forgiveness, one should forgive with a sincere mind and a willing spirit . . . forgiveness is natural to the seed of Israel.” (Mishneh Torah, Teshuvah 2:10)

Forgiveness is one of the main virtues that need to be cultivated by the Jains. Ksamapana or supreme forgiveness forms part of one of the ten characteristics of dharma.

Krishna said in the Gita, “that forgiveness is one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state.”

The parable of the “Prodigal Son” and the parable of the “Unforgiving Servant” are perhaps the best known instances of teachings and practices of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is seen as a practice to prevent harmful thoughts from causing havoc on one’s mental well-being. Buddhism recognizes that feelings of hatred and ill-will leave a lasting effect on our mind karma. Instead, Buddhism encourages the cultivation of thoughts that leave a wholesome effect.

As we walk through life remember that forgiveness is a valuable tool for healing ourselves, family, friends, neighbors, and fellow human beings.

The bliss (Ananda) that we experience in meditation is different than the dichotomy of sadness and happiness. We have all experienced periods of joy and elation when something wonderful happens in life. And as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow says, “Into each life some rain must fall,” we have also experienced hard times and difficult challenges.

But the bliss of meditation as stabilized in Enlightenment is joy beyond the senses, unmoved and never overshadowed by sorrow. Established in being, beyond the influence of opposites, the enlightened traveler dwells in the eternal field of bliss consciousness.

Practice your meditation every day to welcome greater bliss into your life.