A high, thin layer of clouds fills the western sky, blunting the warmth of the sun and giving the land a subtly somber cast. The little stream on the edge of town is now full enough to create a cascade over a step of rocks, as it wends it way along its gentle slope through the Central Valley.
A hodgepodge of cheap, poorly planned and poorly designed housing projects is engulfing the creek and the land. The falcons, coyotes, and rattlesnakes one saw here just a few years ago are gone. Without radical change in human consciousness, scientists say that at least half the animal and plant species on earth will be extinct due to human activity by the end of the century.
But the hills are clear today, and if one looks beyond the new, multi-million dollar mansions selfishly built along the ridge and viewshed, the sharp edges of the sentinel rock at the mouth of the canyon beyond beckon the eye.
Effortlessly, in method-less meditation, the gaps between thoughts grow in frequency and depth, and insights flow into the spaces. Then, spontaneously, the mind quiets down altogether, and once again, as if for the first time, there is the blessedness of being.
Suddenly, a huge hawk silently glides by close as I sit under the large, V-shaped sycamore, its flight path below the treetop. For a split second our eyes meet—the piercing look of a raptor meeting the attentive mind of a human being in whom thought is silent. At that moment one sees that there is no actual divide between species, and that only thought divides.
The mind in meditation is like a laser effortlessly boring through all the accumulated layers of content-consciousness. This past within us is not only from our own lives, but also from the lives of all the previous generations of one’s lineage. And since all family and racial lineages converge if one goes back far enough, our consciousness is the consciousness of humanity since the beginning of conscious experience.
Through passive watchfulness of the entire movement of consciousness within oneself, attention and insight create openings, and the light of the cosmos pours into one. Then one shares, however briefly, in the infinite intelligence beyond thought.
Even for adept meditators, perhaps even for the fully illumined, the meditative state is not a constant, but a quality of consciousness that has to be ignited each day by making space for undivided attention. Nature is crucial to the process, at least for me, though simply a mindful walk sunset, followed by a half hour’s sitting in one’s room as dusk deepens, can be sufficient to generate a radical shift in consciousness.
Spiritual development is the easiest thing to feign, but meditative states are much harder to fake. Any bright man or woman can put on wisdom robes and pass himself or herself off as an enlightened guru. There’s an entire industry of such charlatans in the West now, the Deepak Chopras of the world, willing to sell you their books, DVD’s, retreats, or whatever.
The ‘enlightened’ ones allegedly teach people how to get from here to there. ‘Becoming’ sells, especially with regard to ‘enlightenment.’ But no one attains enlightenment in this way, since there’s nothing to reach as an end.
We’re rarely fully in the present, and nearly always looking forward to or backward at something, because our consciousness is based on time. Not chronological time, but psychological time–becoming this or becoming that. To some degree looking forward to things is healthy, but when time-based consciousness is primary, one is a slave to becoming, and it prevents one from growing as a human being.
So is there any meaning at all to all the talk lately about ‘conscious evolution?’ Even business has appropriated this terminology in their ad campaigns, and will use it as long as it sells.
But when we are really changing, we aren’t conscious of it at all until later, and then only fleetingly, like looking in a rear view mirror while driving a car.
Time is obviously necessary for carrying out tasks and realizing goals, but time and evolution are not involved in radical change and revolution in consciousness. Indeed, psychological time is antithetical to transmutation in the individual and the human species.
Timeless consciousness can function in the field of time, but time-based consciousness has no relationship to the timeless. The shift happens spontaneously, when passive observation gathers sufficient attention.
Then, though the mind may revert, it no longer lives entirely by looking forward or back, since once one has awakened the capacity to effortlessly remain with what is and go beyond it, that’s one’s true grounding.