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When we look back at our experience, we can see so clearly its ephemeral, dreamlike nature. Yet when we look ahead, when we look to the future, somehow (and this is the great enchantment) we get dazzled by all the possibilities that are there waiting for us as if the next event in our lives, the next sitaution, the next project, the next reationship, the next meal, even on meditation the next breath... we live our lives in anticipation of the next hit of experience as if the one that's coming will finally do it for us. What's so strange is that nothing up 'til now has brought that sense of real completion or fulfillment. So why are we so seduced into thinking that the next one will? This is a very strange phenomena.
The image titled The Homeless, Psalm 85:10, featured on the cover of ELEMENTAL, can evoke multiple levels of response. They may include the spiritual in the form of a studied meditation upon the multidimensional qualities of the painting itself; or an extended contemplation of the scripture in the title, which in the King James Bible reads as follows: Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The painting can also inspire a physical response in the form of tears as it calls to mind its more earth-bound aspects; namely, the very serious plight of those who truly are homeless in this world, whether born into such a condition, or forced into it by poverty or war.
There was a white man sitting at the kitchen table, warming his hands by wrapping them around a hot cup of tea. He had kind of an oblong face, curly red hair piled on top, a close-cropped but dense red beard, shocking blue eyes that always looked wide open. He face was ruddy with the outdoors, and the way he was sitting there with that tea, he looked so calm, so centered, almost like he was in meditation. When I came in, he looked at me and smiled just a trace, without showing his teeth…
Nature has come to a point where now, unless you take individual responsibility, you cannot grow. More than this nature cannot do. It has done enough. It has given you life, it has given you opportunity; now how to use it, it has left up to you. Meditation is your freedom, not a biological necessity. You can learn in a certain period of time every day to strengthen meditation, to make it stronger — but carry the flavor of it the whole day.
The conventional sense of self is an illusion—and spirituality largely consists in realizing this, moment to moment. There are logical and scientific reasons to accept this claim, but recognizing it to be true is not a matter of understanding these reasons. Like many illusions, the sense of self disappears when closely examined, and this is done through the practice of meditation.
There are several different kinds of painful feelings that we might experience, and learning to distinguish and relate to these feelings of discomfort or pain is an important part of meditation practice, because it is one of the very first things that we open to as our practice develops.