There are sincere, seeking people who go away every weekend to a different retreat or seminar, hoping to acquire in a few days, wisdom they do not have. They expect to receive it from outside, not from within. Unfortunately, they are confusing wisdom with knowledge. Specialists may possess some information, some technical know-how they don’t have, but real wisdom is inherent in all of us. We are the laboratories in which to make the experiments. In essence it is all within us. When we realize ourselves, who and what we are (or, if preferred, our own true nature), we will find the answers there.
In India is told the famous story of the nobleman who, having lost his priceless pearl, searched the world over to find it. Then one day he got a quick glimpse of himself in a mirror and found that the pearl, his treasure, had been in his forehead all along.
Similarly, experiencing enlightenment is merely uncovering our own treasure. Like suddenly understanding the point of a joke that formerly was incomprehensible to us, we realize that we now have what has always been ours. In truth, no man is unenlightened; he simply does not realize his own wisdom.
“Do not let another rob you of your treasure,” says the Zen master. When Dogen Zenji, the founder of Soto Zen, took a dipperful of water from the river, he always poured half of it back, to the bewilderment of many of his followers. Another Zen master, receiving a gift of six cookies, always returned three of them to the mystified donor. What is wrong with returning to you that which was originally yours? Lao Tzu said the whole world could be experienced without going out the front door. So, the aim of these lessons, with their various practices, is merely to return to you the treasure that has always been yours. Heightened awareness will point the way.
When we become aware of our vast inner landscape, which most of us ignore, we greatly increase our home territory. As awareness becomes deeper, we begin to realize that there is an inner world, and not one merely of emotions and feelings. The perimeters of consciousness are vast, perhaps boundless. The great Lotus Sutra says, “Man’s voice is a voice that fills the Universe, his life is a life without limit.” The key to this glorious vista is our awareness.
This book has two main purposes: to offer methods by which it is possible to reach a heightened awareness (in effect, speeding up evolution) and to furnish informative reading about this subject and various relevancies. Entertainment is not the principal objective, though it is hoped that interested parties will enjoy the reading.
In this modern world there is so much loose talk about heightened awareness, but little is offered in the way of concrete instruction. If sincere people put into effect the methods described in these pages, results should be very positive.
For those seeking heightened awareness, or any spiritual goal, it should be obvious that a moderate diet is essential. Heavy eating dulls the system; blood flows to the stomach and intestines and is drained away from the brain and the spine. Digestion takes all of our resources, and we tend to become sleepy. The type of person who seeks satisfaction in gluttony is not apt to be the type looking for greater awareness and spiritual progress.
The writer is not counseling the reader to adhere to a vegetarian diet, though in some instances, that could be helpful. One should eat moderately, just as one should indulge in moderate recreation and sleep. Actually, to under-eat while practicing a spiritual discipline is a good idea. This can also be beneficial to the health. When I asked Paul Reps, the Zen writer, how he managed to keep his health in all his years of wandering through places such as India and Mexico where dysentery is common, he replied, “By keeping myself slightly hungry.” The Buddha indicated that gluttony – overeating – is one of the hardest attachments to overcome and is carried over from lifetime to lifetime.
As for alcohol, it should again be obvious that drinking is not compatible with a fine-tuning of the nervous system. When reading, in a book by Alan Watts, that he and a companion were headed into the hills carrying a jar of martinis in order to practice Zen meditation, I realized how many wrong signals are being sent to sincere but gullible seekers. Purity of the nervous system is a necessity for achieving heightened awareness and, eventually, realization.
The reader will have to make the choice as to whether indulgence is more important than heightened awareness. This should be an easy choice to make, but one should not compromise and attempt to combine the two.
This book starts with chapters about the various ingredients in the quest for heightened awareness. One should know the meaning of Chi (Prana in Sanskrit) because the “revulsion of Chi,” as D.T. Suzuki has characterized it, is essential to the attainment of a higher consciousness. Many disciplines work directly with the Chi, including the moving meditations, T’ai Chi Ch’uan and T’ai Chi Chih. Various such practices are described and taught in this book.
One other thing: it almost goes without saying that such practice is good for the health, as well as having spiritual benefits. All life is purification. Often we fight this process through taking painkillers and other drugs and do not see disease (dis-ease) in its true light. A sick Yogi is no Yogi. As the nervous system is purified, as the Chi circulation is accelerated and balanced, we should see things more clearly, have more energy, become less self-centered and possibly live longer. Heightened awareness is a worthwhile goal in every respect, but the reader must practice faithfully to attain this goal; it cannot be given to him by anybody. And we never stop progressing; we never relax and say we’re here. To those who persevere and succeed, great joy (ananda) should be in store.
There will be some terms used in this book that are unfamiliar to the reader. For this reason there is a glossary at the end of the book with explanations and definitions of these terms.