Waxing Philosophical As A Means To Awaken
Most paths to awakening usually combine some or all of the following: meditation, contemplation, deep inquiry, spiritual devotion & selfless service, and often big life or health challenges that “goose” us to look deeper for true meaning in our lives.
The vast majority of people accept life on its own terms and don’t question the meaning or whether they could shift to a vaster perspective. This is certainly true of most Westerners, who often have lives filled with many good choices – college, career, having their own business & home, marrying by choice and raising a beautiful family, and then of course, experiencing whatever big work, health & relational challenges that come up, and finally death.
But even in third-world countries where many have hard, prescribed lives, work and marriages, with very little time for personal enjoyment or personal choice, most just accept that’s the way life is, they can do little to change their lives, and they never dip into deep inquiry about the nature of life.
Then there are those who get philosophical and start contemplating the Big Questions, either because they simply want to know the ultimate Truth of why we’re here (the few,) or because their life’s suffering & dissatisfaction have forced them to search for “spiritual relief” (the many.)
One path is not better than the other. There’s nothing wrong with just living a life as best as you can without ever searching for deeper meanings or realizations, and those who meditate and become very enlightened about the nature of life are not superior, in any way. At one level, it’s all Spirit living through us anyway, so how could you say some made the “righter” choice…Spirit’s choosing, not us.
For those who aren’t attracted to a steady meditation practice, aren’t drawn to bhakta (God-devotion) or doing constant service, you can still become very Awake, and it can be as easy as “waxing philosophical.” Just ask yourself a few simple questions, inquire deeply, and don’t settle for anything but the absolute Truth in your final answers, and you may find your world permanently changed, inside & out.
1st Question: Are these human bodies, minds and separate identities really all there is to life, or is there something more?
Well, you don’t need a doctorate in philosophy to know there’s something more. Our human bodies & identities are only here for a remarkably short time, so that can’t be all life is. As my friend, singer Jesse Colin Young, once wrote:
“Some may come and some may go, we will surely pass
When the One who left us here returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight, fading in the grass”
Obviously, that which set this whole thing in motion is outside of time, space, and change because all those things exist within It. The only thing that can exist outside of time, space, and change is just Pure Awareness or Pure Being, because everything else, being subject to time, space, and change, must come & then go, start and then stop. Only Is-ness or Pure Being was here “before” anything else was, and is permanent. And there must be some permanent foundation on which everything rests, or none of the impermanent things could have ever arisen. Feel deep within you. Feel deep within the world or whole Universe. Down to the core. You’ll feel that place where all there is, is just Being, just pure existence, before labels, forms or judgments, upon which everything rests. You have a body and a mind, so you could not be your body or mind. Who or what are you?
2nd Question: Is that Pure Being separate from us, or is it inside as well as outside us, perhaps even “who we truly Are?”
Think about it: If the only raw material you have on hand to make a form is clay, whether you build a little toy or a city full of buildings, won’t clay be the core of everything you create? If the core of Everything is No-Thing or Pure Empty Being or Pure Is-ness, that Is-ness is the only thing the Is had to work with to manifest entire universes, manifest everything. So everything must have Pure Spirit or Pure Being in it, indeed, must be made entirely of that Pure Being. There’s nothing else available! So obviously it’s everywhere and everything, and truly who & what we are. And since it just “is,” pre-name, form or judgments of good or bad, It’s always perfect, fine, at peace…because It’s everything! Things being bad, wrong or unpeaceful can only exist after that Is manifests into minds that can assign judgment, preferences and fears to the way things just naturally are. But “prior” to manifested reality (and even “after,”) everything just Is.
3rd Question: Now that we’ve established there is a core Being to life, which is always perfect & peaceful, is there any way to touch and, better still, rest in that Being, in that peace, instead of only living in the busy, decaying, impermanent body & mind?
Yes, and paradoxically, no. Since we’ve now established that what you truly are at our core is Pure Being, Pure Awareness, Pure Everything Exactly As It Is, then philosophically, your first logical step would be to just be everything exactly as it is. That is, go with the flow of life, or as Matt Kahn says, “Whatever arises, love that.” Celebrate every event or instance that your life brings you, be fully present for it instead of resisting or arguing with it, and you’ll find you are fully in harmony with What Is. You’ll find you are touching It. And if you practice it long enough, you’ll find yourself resting in that Pure Being. You’ll also be more fully alive than ever.
This doesn’t mean if a truck is coming towards you, just accept it and not move, or that if your doctor says you have cancer, you just go with it and decline all forms of treatment. if you did that, not only would you probably die, but you’d be going against the very law of accepting what is. Because your fear & instinct to jump out of the truck’s way, or your desire to get cured of your cancer and stay alive a bit longer, is as much a part of what is as your eventual passage from accident, disease or old age. Honor those, too.
But if you do everything you can and still, things don’t go the way your ego-mind might like, rest in what is Now and know that you are One with the Being of Creation and nothing can harm that big You, only “seem” to harm the illusory “little you.”
Obviously, in order to do that, you need to be able to go to and rest in that place beyond mind & body. Because the mind is where lives everything other than Being with what is – time, fear of pain or death, judgments that one thing is better than another, desire for more of the “good” things and resistance to the “other things,” frustration, etc. Body-minds just aren’t very good at living in the Now, with things exactly as they are. They’re always wanting something new, something better, and then better than that, and then more permanent, dammit!
That’s where the paradoxical “no” comes in the the 3rd Question. Simply put, if your ego-mind is the part of you that wants to “get to that cool feeling of the bliss of everything being exactly as it is,” so that it can try to co-opt it as one more way to control things and make you feel better, than, no, you can’t touch or rest in that peace. Because your desire is still rooted in time. “I’m not happy Now (with things exactly as they are,) but in the “future,” when I reach that place of Oneness with Pure Being, which is what again?…Oh, oops, things Being exactly as they are…oh, darn!”
Ram Das and his mentors, Neem Karoli Baba and Bhagavan Das, said it quite perfectly long ago, and it’s still the simple truth – Be. Here. Now.
Now if you follow this all down, philosophically, you may be able to skip all the meditation, devotion, service, etc. and find you are already living in an awakened state…maybe even one that sustains even as big challenges come up to shake your resting in Being. You will likely have to trail these truths down more than once, to fully entrain it into your body-mind. Treat it not so much as just the game of being philosophical, but as deep, transformative inquiry & contemplation on these things and the nature of all things. Question any superficial beliefs, constantly test them and see if they ring as pure Truth. Question all moods, desires, fears and judgments your mind makes, and forms your mind takes…and keep coming back to the capricious nature of mind-ego and the pure fact of Pure Being. If you take your philosophical waxing to this deep inquiry level, I guarantee you will arrive at…what Is.