Via Negativa–The Essence of Meditation

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    It was the last sitting of the season along the smaller of the two creeks, before the rains return to California in the late fall. Sittings under a great sycamore there afford views of the fields, canyon and foothills.

    Three-digit Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) temperatures this week have reduced the stream to an inaudible trickle and nearly stagnant pond. But a remarkable final meditation of the summer occurred there yesterday.

    There are no methods to meditation; active meditation is an oxymoron, a continuation of the separative program of the self. Whereas the movement of negation is an effortless state of attention that sweeps every thought and emotion (that is, the past as memory and the accretion of experience) away, renewing the mind and brain.

    Other than two unseen wild turkeys calling to each other nearby, and a few swallows skimming over the surface of the water, I saw or heard no animals until the end, after a meditative state had begun. There was a rustling in the dry grass directly behind me; I turned to see a large deer on the other side of the sycamore.

    The young buck hadn’t seen me through the brush surrounding the tree, so I held very still as it came around to the path along the bank above the creek. The deer’s eight-pointed antlers were covered with felt, indicating that it was young, despite its size. It was only a couple meters away when it spotted me, but didn’t so much as flinch.

    We stared at each other for some seconds, without a species barrier, much less predator and prey. The young buck ambled down the bank into the water and took a long drink. Then it walked across and stood in the shade of a tree along the edge of the creek for some minutes, before slowly walking up the bank.

    Without a trace of romanticism or imagination (since the mind-as-thought was completely quiet), I felt the animal had honored one by acting as though I was just part of its environment.

    Only through passive observation without the observer can the brain effortlessly gather the requisite attention that initiates the movement of negation, which ends the domination of conditioning and permits the brain to be deeply still.

    It is stillness that renews the brain—the mind and heart—and gives one the capacity to commune with beauty, harmony, and the nameless, sacred energy beyond thought. There is no ‘way’—except via negativa, the negative way.

    I’ve always found the ‘fallen creatures’ idea rather absurd. The notion that people once lived as angels on earth in a Garden of Eden, and then devolved with original sin into human nature, still captures the imaginations of Christians and New Agers (with variations of course).

    With explosive bursts, cognitive capability grew in many hominid species along a non-linear lineage. Thus humans evolved from the tooth and claw struggle for life into apex predators, and then exploiters of every ‘resource’ on earth.

    After a few million years as hunters and gatherers, ‘fully modern humans’ emerged over a hundred thousand years ago. Then we became settled agriculturalists, with fewer and fewer nomadic exceptions, and formed the first cities and states, which made increasingly sophisticated and deadly war on each other.

    Probably a subconscious memory of the long and relatively happy (if individually short-lived) period as hunter-gatherers gave rise to the Genesis fable. But Genesis is a children’s story, meant to account for how humans could have such spiritual potential, and yet be so venal, selfish, and rotten as a rule.

    The dualistic notion of ‘a good spirit and an evil spirit battling for control of the universe and people’s souls’ is deeply false and misleading. Where man is concerned, there is no evil in the universe except as generated by man.

    Pitting good against evil diminishes good and elevates evil. Good stands against evil where it must, but it doesn’t fight it, neither on a terrestrial nor a cosmic battlefield. Though only self and darkness appear to be operating in human consciousness at present, the immeasurable exists beyond self and darkness in life.

    The self is a conditioned and constructed program, nothing more. There is no ‘Higher Self;’ that’s baloney imported from the East. The involuntary movement of negation ends the domination of the self as a program and operating system within the brain, allowing the general programming of family and culture to come to an end. Whether temporary or irrevocable, that is liberation.

    Is there awareness beyond the mind-as-thought, even beyond the silent brain passively observing thought and emotion into stillness?

    One can only find out when the observer/self yields completely in undirected attention to the movement of thought/emotion, and the action of unwilled negation completely quiets the mind.

    Martin LeFevre

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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