Those of us who are led to spiritual pursuits cannot usually explain why they interest us. If we did try, we might say that we are tired of the superficial in life and are looking for something of more lasting value. Or we could begin to think of lives to come and wonder where we would fit into the future pictures. The glutton might be afraid that he would be reborn as a pig or hog, wallowing constantly in food. This would not be a punishment but merely fulfillment of the law of affinity. The one who had “sinned” frequently might begin to worry about his reputed “hells” (which could be subjective) and his chances of suffering some form of retribution. (As comfort I might pass along that my teacher in India stated that “sin” is contrary to evolution.) Often we find that turning to spiritual practice alienates us from people close to us who have not at all progressed in that direction. The spiritual path can be a lonely one because it brings us into more rarified stratas where fewer and fewer venture.
But the rewards are great. We begin to find out who and what we are, and with this knowledge, anxieties start to fall away. Instead of seeming to be a creature that pursues business success for a few years, then gradually deteriorates and disappears, we begin to realize that we are a creature who fills the universe, and whose voice is a voice without limit. It goes without saying that, as we ascend the ladder, we approach more closely to our natural heritage – joy. Whether we see the hand of God in all this is not important; that will have to do with our conditioning. But gratitude and divine energy will come along with our ascent, and compassion will naturally have a prominent place in our lives. Compassion and wisdom (not knowledge) tend to go together, and the wise man will tend to be compassionate as a matter of course. He will be “good” without any self-conscious thought of being so. (And he is not to be judged by those not at his level.) Kindness takes many forms, including some that may seem hard to comprehend. This is why spiritual students turn themselves over to their teachers without trying to judge the latter. To turn on your teacher is spiritual suicide, if the teacher is a true teacher.
Awareness is the mark by which we can judge the degree of progress one has made. Heightened awareness gradually becomes universal consciousness, and we begin to get away from the self-centered concentration we had formerly known. Release from self-clinging is as great a reward as we can want, as self-clinging is the root of suffering. The Buddha’s admonition that ending hatred (envy, jealousy, antagonism) is the road to happiness says the same thing. Hatred is the result of self-clinging. When one can say he no longer hates, resents or even dislikes anyone, he can be said to be on his way to sagehood. As awareness grows, it means we are on the way to that state. That is why the writer feels that the teaching of heightened awareness is so important.
Moving meditations are great aids along this evolutionary path. If one studies T’ai Chi Ch’uan or T’ai Chi Chih, and practices to the point where the Chi is flowing freely as it is also being balanced, he will be doing a great deal in evolving smoothly, in advancing awareness and in improving health. Do not forget that for every spiritual change there is a corresponding physical one. It is hardly likely that the physiology of Albert Schweitzer would be the same as that of one who sells drugs. As to the future fate and joy of living of the practitioner, the outcome would seem easy to determine. While it is hard for the backward one to reverse his course, it is also difficult for the aspirant not to continue on the path, except for brief periods of time when doubts might arise. That is why it is so gratifying to me when I see a drug-addicted young man come to T’ai Chi Chih (I’m sure he was aware something was wrong) and gradually find that smoking, taking of narcotics, excessive drinking of alcohol gradually disappear. He doesn’t give them up; they leave him, often before he has realized what has happened. As the Chi is circulated and the nervous system is purified, the old vasanas (habit energies) are weakened and new habits take their place. T’ai Chi Chih and T’ai Chi Ch’uan are far more than exercise. This is one way they differ from aerobics and other popular pastimes.
This book does not attempt to teach these two moving meditations. There are many books on the older art, T’ai Chi Ch’uan, which has a vast literature. Unfortunately, most of it is devoted merely to techniques without going into the deeper, more spiritual aspects of practice. T’ai Chi Chih is much newer, but it is easy to learn and do, many accredited teachers are available (as well as a teaching video recording), and there is my photo textbook of instructions to learn from. To those who truly want to pursue the path of heightened awareness, with its many evolutionary rewards, I strongly suggest that they begin to practice one of the two moving meditations.
Zen and Ch’an teachers (Ch’an is the Chinese word, short for Ch’anna) often say, of some worthy past, that “he had only one eye.” They refer, of course, to the so-called spiritual eye, which many try to place physically in the space between and slightly above the eyes. In truth, the spiritual eye is not geographically located and not limited in region. Many feel it would be more exact to point to the tan t’ien, below the navel (generally thought to be the seat of intuition), if one looked for a physical base. The Zen teacher, in speaking of the single-eyed one, means that this ancient worthy saw things in a non-dual manner. They did not refer to one, which is the opposite of many, but to not two – which has no opposite.
Such a worthy has grown beyond the self-isolated. Hakuin Zenji says, “After this, seeing things of the world was like seeing the back of my own hand.” At approximately the same time, John Donne remarked, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” These men were far ahead of their time in the evolutionary cycle.
It may seem strange to those who do not comprehend, but as one progresses, he begins to live more and more intuitively. If one retreats into himself and becomes almost an onlooker, the poetry, the painting, the music and the wisdom all pour out without effort. I have to laugh when I hear of a painter working on a non-objective painting for a year; he probably had it best when he first painted it. Similarly, when one hears of writers agonizing over what words to use, continually revising, it becomes apparent that the work is not flowing from an inner source. Masters of sumi (ink used for painting and calligraphy) must do it right the first time as no changes can be made in this form, so the painting is a quick, intuitive portrayal whose inspiration flows naturally from inside. Such was the work of the Chinese monk, Mu Ch’i (Mokke in Japanese), whose depiction of “The Six Persimmons” is so well known in the West.
There was one great painter in China, working with sumi ink only, who drank quite a good deal of wine. The emperor sent for him on a day when he was quite tipsy. When he arrived at the palace, the emperor asked him to do a painting for him. The ink had already been mixed. As the painter began, his sleeve caught the inkstand and knocked it over. Ink beginning to run, the painter quickly shaped it with his brush, and in a few seconds, had painted a masterpiece using the running ink. The emperor looked on in admiration, and finally said, “This is real genius.”
At such a time something intuitive (God? our True Nature?) takes over and does the work. One time the author heard Zen writer Paul Reps immediately answer a question without taking time to consider it, answering with great acumen almost in a reflex manner. “Did you hear what I said?” he asked, as though he had been an observer and something else was speaking. Many, such as Reps, speak of themselves in the third person, as though not identifying with the limited personality.
In European languages we have one word for heart, but in Chinese and Japanese there is a word for the physical heart and one for the spiritual heart, really the heart-mind-spirit. The Chinese shin and Japanese kokoro do not refer to the pulsing muscle we know as the heart, but rather to something much deeper. Sometimes, in English, we refer to “a man with heart,” implying that there is something beyond the physical organ. This expression, kokoro ga aru hito in Japanese, hints at a deep faculty within, an intuitive power that, when working well, means we are tuned in. A man with heart would refer to one who works from a deep inner source.
Japanese artisans usually sit in meditation before starting an important task, accumulating spiritual power. They may even dress in formal traditional costume. A master sword maker might not only meditate, but he might fast for a day or two before beginning an important task, realizing that something is needed beyond mere technical skill. In this way such people bring the intuitive to the surface and push themselves to the background. From this comes heightened awareness and its concomitant, heightened creativity.
The so-called Zen sickness occurred when an enlightened adept began to spout aphorisms and truths in an uncontrollable manner, often in verse or poetic form, having begun to realize the most profound truths. The adept found, to his dismay, that these realizations formed into words and gushed forth in an unstoppable torrent – he had no control over the process. At such a time he might complain that his master should have spotted the tendency and beaten it out of him.
Mantra and prayer, when sincerely uttered, have a great effect on the mind. Whether or not a mantra has magic power is not the important point; it is the effect on the one who utters it that is important. So with prayer: it does not matter what you call your concept of God or ultimate authority. The important point is the effect prayer has on you. The mind – and the heart – are cultured by devotion; to argue whether it is misguided or not is to miss the point. Many cases of an aroused Kundalini (indicative of heightened evolution) can be ascribed to the effect of prayer. Similarly, sincere repentance can have the same effect. It removes blockage from the mind and the heart. The flow of Chi should be much freer after true repentance.
One other comment is to be added: that on dreams. Why dreams? Because they will be affected by your passage to greater awareness. As your evolutionary path is quickened, it should be obvious that more and more blockages will be waded through and discarded. These are old karmas that have been holding you back. Some of them may be acted out in dreams, and unpleasant dreams could be a way of burning up these karmas. At the same time, there may be auspicious dreams, even experiences that are stronger than ordinary dreams and much more vivid in memory, at night when one is sleeping. Since the evolutionary process is being accelerated, it is natural that more and more “stuff” will come out, be overcome and discarded. Do not be surprised and do not be dismayed. A steady path is the best one, not a vacillating progress that is turned off and on like a faucet.
One hint about dreams: the furious action you see in dreams does not furnish the key to understanding them. The pictures are imposed on the mind in order for you to remain asleep and not be awakened. They are a post-imposition. Rather, it is necessary to determine the phrase or word that keys the dreams; it is always there, though at first, one may not be aware of it. (Sometimes these phrases may be prophetic. The writer profited from them in the stock market at one time in his life.) Exactly as creation is portrayed by saying, “In the beginning was the Word,” so do the words of your dreams give you the key and often great knowledge of yourself. This (which I have come to know is true and has helped me in life) is quite contrary to what the psychologists and psychoanalysts portray as the meaning of dreams. (Only you can know the meaning of your dreams.)
To sum up the practice, and the message in this book: we are all evolving, the human race and all life is evolving, though the Essence does not change. Through the practices in this book it is definitely possible to speed up evolution, resulting in heightened awareness. If the reader sincerely practices these disciplines, the writer believes he will be happy that he did so.