Developing the power of concentration to the point where we can make large jumps in abiding or coming to know the enlightened state through sheer hours of meditation is one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is dealing with the shadow or the unresolved vexations and conflicting beliefs that create our interpretation of reality. Meditation has been sold as the ultimate medicine and, in some ways, it is. But it is insufficient of itself in order to fulfill the human journey unless we consider the resolution of mundane vexations as the larger part of practice and transformation.
A good description of the perennial model comes from a book called the Magus of Stravolos:
“Everything is Mind, but Mind is not the Absolute. It is the means by which the absolute manifests itself… Jesus himself said, ‘Before the mountains and the hills I am.’ The Christ Logos has always been within the Absolute before the appearance of Jesus… It is the light that enlightens every man descending upon the earth… Suppose Christ is the sun whose light is reflected on the surface of our planet. A black stone will hardly reflect that light. Another stone of a different color will reflect more light. A white marble will reflect even more light… The amount of Logoic light reflected within us will depend on how evolved as self-consciousness we are, how developed our psychonoetic body is… Common people assume there is nothing beyond existence. If you ask the question ‘Does God exist?’ my answer will be a categorical ‘No.’ God simply is. Existence is the manifestation of God through the supersubstance we call Mind. Whatever exists has a beginning and an end. God as the Absolute has no beginning and no end.”
In this classic model of Shiva (unmanifest) and Shakti (manifest), perception of the absolute is categorically separate from that which perceives a beginning and end. The second attention that is developed in meditation is aware of what is manifested through mind from another perspective but these manifestations, or karma, take place whether we like it or not. Our ‘liking it or not’ is, in fact, the very cause of manifestation. It is distorted perception itself which manifests vexation and it is in these unresolved vexations where we can feel stuck.
In truth, we are ‘stuck’ the entire way up the mountain. We are like a single grain of sand on a large beach which considers ourselves and our needs to be greater and more important than all the other grains of sand on the beach. We eventually laugh when we see the folly of this but, in the meantime, we are very attached to what we consider the root of our existence and the implications we believe circumstance has for us.
Pierre Grimes, philosopher and founder of the Academy of Platonic Studies and the Noetic Society, outlines a very simple interplay between the particular burdens we carry as individuals and our journey to the absolute. “As your meditation progresses, the mind is going to offer you all the images that are associated closely with each one of these problems you have… Therefore when you’re meditating and you’re now advancing in your psychic progress, you can be blocked. That means you have to deal with this… or you can’t go any further… Another way is, you make a deal with yourself, ‘I’ll attend to these later,’… and then you might be able to go onto the next one… but you know what? When you come back down, they’re there. And therefore people who have reached certain states of enlightenment, let’s all congratulate them and offer up, right, a beer in their honor, but you know what? The problems they haven’t dealt with they then have to face or they’re going to act out and live through them whether they like it or not…”
Becoming ‘stuck’ in meditation, therefore, is a blessing. The mind is presenting you with the very next thing that you, as an individual, need to resolve. Once this karma is resolved, the job is done and it no longer blocks us. We are able to reflect light where there once was darkness. The harder and faster we go, the harder and faster the mind pushes back and throws up these unresolved images. Resolving these blocks, even the darkest and most horrifying of them, is a matter of time and awareness. At the bottom of each one is fear. The ego runs from fear, the true self looks at it, accepts it, and surrenders it. As we learn to abide in the true self or bare existence without judgement, the resolution and surrender of these fears becomes the transforming principal which recognizes our delusion as enlightenment.
When we mistakenly feel that identification with some archetype, acquisitiveness, mental bargaining, specialized knowledge or strength can “burst through” or mitigate these root fears, we validate our vexations and simply may not pass any further. Willful ignorance is the mechanism of imprisonment within the idea of man. The longer we deny our minds, the harder mind pushes back until massive dramas play themselves out and force the reconciliation of karma. In this way, the single greatest danger on the path is to mistake advancement for personal achievement. Any spiritual detour which implies that our ‘soul’ is ‘learning lessons’ for some purpose of personal betterment or individual evolution misleads by imagining the fishbowl of manifestation for something it can never be and implicitly or explicitly presents the ego with the false promise or goal of spiritual attainment. The path is gaining nothing and losing everything.