Drink at the Fountain

The Apostle has said
“You ought be as I am”
Without bondage, attachment,
no limbs in the sand

Surely, my state would be careless and free
Yet how would I empathize with any creature like me?

To know vulnerability
the pain of cold loss
Must I not pass this gauntlet before I take up my cross?

To die to the world is a thing quite profound
but to partake of its fruit, one’s mind must be sound

Illumination by Grace

Humility is of the Spirit, but pride is of the ego. The first is permanent and true, the other, impermanent and ultimately unreal. An egoistic intellect sees not (nor cares to look) beyond its own contrivance, and supposes that it must construct truth out of its “competence” and “ingenuity”. Being harbored, this vanity will cause great distress within the mind; for the ego must continually validate the supposition that its intellect functions, in itself, as a devise of enlightenment. However, once the intellect realizes that truth arises not out of its own machinations, a great burden is lifted.

Enlightened by grace, the intellect finally perceives that truth must transcend its own ability to reason and contrive. Truth, then, is something of the kind that one must bring himself into alignment with that it may be apprehended through natural intuition. To a mind of genuine humility (and fierce discernment), truth illumines the perception with relative ease; for the humble mind seeks to destroy its personal biases via the process of illumination. If, through sapient practice (meditation, prayer, study, dialectic, etc.), truth can be recognized in the subtleties of life, good. However, if truth eludes natural intuition, one must be patient and bring himself back into alignment. Otherwise, the intellect will go about the frantic task of trying to construct a hypothesis in which it might rest its uncertainty. If, for example, the ego expects that it ought to comprehend a complex bit of philosophy (yet genuine comprehension is not forthcoming), it will attempt to force its understanding out of insecurity. This impulse must be resisted. No such contrivance is ever reliable, being groped for and conceived as a result of ignorance. On the contrary, we must seek patiently for the truth, resisting the impulse to fill the void of our ignorance with rubbish.

Though out of pride (and fear), the ego uses the intellect to erect arbitrary knowledge within itself, humility of Spirit is content to wait patiently for genuine intuition. Having been cultivated within the consciousness by Spirit itself, humility recognizes from whence truth arises. All modes of consciousness that are able to bear with humility arise from those portions of mind that have been vivified (wholly or partially) by Spirit. It is within these modes of consciousness that the intellect should rest; though more often than not, the immature mind will rest in the egoistic modes. Coming to the point where one is able to recognize whether a thought is characterized by by egoism or Spirit seems to be a tremendous milestone in spiritual development. This ability of the “knower” to cultivate its own consciousness is the means by which all conditioned fear is removed, and not fear only, but any inordinate mode of consciousness. As one grows in this way, the more he puts himself to death by surrendering mind unto the Spirit. By virtue of self-death, truth becomes immanent to the mind of he who is mature in humility. His intuition comes by divine nature.

Cross the River

Be vigilant and go beyond death. If you lack vigilance, you cannot escape death. Those who strive earnestly will go beyond death; those who do not can never come to life
– Gautama Buddha (The Dhammapada, vs. 21)

It is easy to lose vigilance. Discipline forces the mind to focus, to pull oneself from the passive stream of self-gratification and stupid indolence. But vigilant action of mind and body requires an ardent will, and moments of weakness will begin to nurture apathetic behavior. As apathy accumulates with each indolent decision, the overall character of the spiritual aspirant will begin to ossify. At such a stage, he will have lost control over the forces of his mind and once again be subject to its devilish whims. Such a person is not sovereign over himself, but is ruled by the fluctuating disposition of his mental- field; and this field is invariably characterized by avarice and egoism. Spiritual discipline forces one to take account of himself, forces him to observe his own habits of mind. Through such vigilance, one begins to gain conscious control over these immanent forces, and he thereby mitigates the suffering and turmoil caused by them.

Our time should be characterized by the fulfillment of difficult decisions. At each crossroads in the mind, it should be the path less traveled that is chosen. The easy course should be resisted. A passive life is a life that remains blind to purpose and the remarkable potential of its own faculties. When passivity reigns unchallenged, these faculties lie in disuse and become derelict. The spiritual man recognizes ultimate purpose and mobilizes his faculties in the pursuit of that end. Knowing not the exact nature of this purpose, nevertheless, he strives to ascertain that knowledge.

Be vigilant! This is the remonstrance of the Christ and the Buddha. Keep your lamps burning and never cease to meditate, else death may sweep you away while you remain unaware, mired in the stupor of indolence. Wake up sleeper! Life is not a crude joke meant for the pursuit of pleasure or love of comfort. It is an opportunity to become aware, to raise one’s perception from the truncated confines of conditioned bias. The self- secluded consciousness creates its own illusions regarding the truth of life. It is so diminutive in focus, it cannot see past its own likes an dislikes. Truth has nothing to do with personal likes and dislikes. These are conditioned and prescribed by circumstance. The truth is not comfortable to one who is complacent in his own apathy; and the truth is this: We must strive with unyielding will to conquer our own weaknesses, biases, vices, illusions, and inordinate passions. When all these are stripped away, there remains nothing but pure awareness, pure consciousness, life without death.