Receptively settling oneself in Unknowing could be one way to describe the contemplative’s modus operandi, but what about when that doesn’t happen? What is a meditator to do when that mode of being within Being seems out of reach? When an aspiring contemplative neglects his responsibility to practice receiving the gift of Silence within himself, what next?
Does he hate himself? Punish himself? Force himself? Shame himself? Will drowning himself quench the divine thirst?
The mystical-sounding instructions of some traditions is to discover one’s primal Perfection by siting in “non-meditation” — this sounds nice and sacred, so it may be inspiring, but what does it mean to practice “non-practice“? What does it mean to build “not-doing” into a life of striving and effort and expectation of gain?
One aspect of living this “not-doing“ may involve developing a palate for contemplative failure. “De-velop”, as in: “de-” (the negating prefix) + “envelop” (cover; veil; conceal)… Is our duty not to un-cover that which is being developed? Is our aim not to find (rather than to build) the mature palate of contemplative failure that we already are amidst our failings — NOT in spite of them?
When I ponder this possibility, my natural tendency is to nose-dive into the pitfall of “over-sanctification”: attempting to starve the mundane of its divinity; claiming God to be “here” (among the mystical and mysterious and inspiring), and not “here” (amongst the average and common and profane). This seriously limiting habit of pigeon-holing the Sacred is why I still seek anything at all… I think I’m missing something.
Humiliating. That’s the word. Here I am literally with the “Kingdom of Heaven within me; in my midst; readily accessible” (Gospel of Thomas; Luke 17:21; Matthew 3:2, 4:17, 10:7), and I wallow in grief for the polished states of prayerful yearning I think are the keys to the room I’m sitting in.
That “Heaven”, routinely likened to receptive soil (that simply allows for its own impregnation), turns out to be no more than just good dirt. Not the kind of “blessed” soil used in ceremony, but the nasty stuff. The filth and shit that I know I need in order to grow a garden, but that I am repulsed by and hide from my neighbors every chance I get.
So, when I sit, may I just sit;
When I don’t sit, may I just don‘t-sit.
When I am full in spirit, may I just be full in sprit;
When I am poor in spirit, may I just be poor in spirit.
When I am well, may I just be well;
When I am broken, may I just be broken.
I have come to feel that there is no shortage of true brokenness in becoming Truly Whole…
Good for us.