Getting Stuck in Meditation Practice

stuck in meditation

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.

8 thoughts on “Getting Stuck in Meditation Practice

  1. So far it seems as though this truth is always amazing news to the ego every time. Also Kama is not the object of fear that is the problem but rather the fear itself. Finally it seems we develop a fear of the karmic manifestation of that bed rock fear which then hides the primary fear just one additional layer deeper. Oh also it seems necessary to point out. that it is actually the nature of ego to solve things by acquiring something more. Until we identify that principle of ego, it always seems like news when we have once again mistakenly tried to acquire something like Spiritual Development in order to take a short cut around our next karmic impasse.

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    • Thanks Bob. Yeah, I think as soon as we fall into the habit of self projection the cat is out of the bag – self, world and problems arise simultaneously. The model you’re presenting is a vertical one which is a great way to understand it and seeing it in time is also helpful. Burning off that tired habit of projecting self cuts everything else off at the source.

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      • In Buddhism, the stages of enlightenment are outlined by the 10 fetters, and it is these fetters we overcome through meditation. At the root of these fetters is the dream of self. This is the movement from 0 to 1 in Taoism, the belief in separation from God and the birth of dualism, samsara. The projection of self is our original sin, the dream that enlightenment awakens us from. It’s subtlety is the entire challenge of the path. Though gradual practice and sudden shifts it is caught as it arises and extinguished, it is outgrown, ‘burnt off.’ The definition of Nirvana is “blown out,” like a candle. The habit of mentally projecting self is the very root of ego, samsara, the perception of karma, time, birth and death, a person and a life. The veil is lifted when this projection ceases. We see this through watching the mind (meditation) and it always happens right now.

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  2. Thanks for that explanation and the tradition it comes from. I do find it quite pleasing to rest from projecting self. I’m not sure that I want to spend all my time in that state comma in the tradition I’m beginning to learn more about I’m not sure if that’s how they handle that issue. It seems like it might be good too project self at times just to clean it out so that it doesn’t catch me unaware and manifest Karma that I am not prepared to deal with. Although I am attempting to see if I can burn up the karmic stains while self is not being projected since they apparently remain stored in the storehouse of the Mind and some subtle form. I’m curious if others have done this that you know of

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    • Thoughts don’t belong to us, they are like vibrations interpreted through an idea of man. The field of mind/matter has the basic characteristics of impermanence, suffering and ego(self)lessness. We mistakenly pretend a self which pretends to own these thoughts which are clearly not our own, and then arises the mistaken wish to purify, unstain, clean, enlighten, etc some illusory self. There is nothing and no one to purify, unstain, clean or enlighten. Thoughts cannot be stopped, purified, unstained or otherwise cleaned – they exist as part of the whole just like the vibration of G# exists as part of the whole. Hope that made a little sense 🙂 feel free to email me if you want to talk more…
      mindwithoutwalls@gmail.com

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