The Greatest Friend
Meditation is one of the most nourishing activities you can do for yourself in this life. Here’s a wonderful thing I’ve come to understand through many years of practice. Life has gifted every one of us three loyal friends.
Loyal Friend number one is The Breath
There in the background of your life is an incredible friend who is with you for the span of your life. The rhythm of the breath is an instantly accessible gateway to peace, and is also extremely portable. Although life can at times take your breath away, this is for but a moment, as its guaranteed you will have the gift of inspiration right up until your expiration.
Loyal Friend number two is The Heart
Like the breath the beating of your heart is ever present and intrinsically portable. Like the breath the heartbeat’s rhythm fluctuates in response to experience. The heartbeat is also a gateway to peace, this friend will keep pace with you for the length and breadth of your earthly experience.
Your third, and best, friend is your Attention
Your third friend is the Greatest Friend to Ever Be. This friend is not only your friend for life, but is equally a friend to your breath and your heartbeat. All experience occurs within the fathomless space of The Greatest Friend, this friend is Eternal and Unchanging. If you were lost at sea this friend would be the rock on which you clamber to safety. If you are about to cross the street while distracted, this friend is the invisible hand that holds you at the curb. All phenomena arises and passes away, the Greatest friend is what is always Present, the space in which every thing is born and dies, the Biggest Context.
In meditation, these are the only friends you need. You take them everywhere with you, and they are instantly accessible anytime you choose.
Meditation has been re-marketed for the modern audience as mindfulness, but this new term is rather misleading. A more accurate term would perhaps be mind emptiness. Indeed meditation is an extremely beneficial habit that will most certainly create healthy mindfulness in your life. But the function of the mind needs to be examined, funnily enough by the mind, in order to truly benefit from the practice of meditation.
The mind is also your friend, but this friend is often not as easy to get along with as the three loyal friends described above. The mind would definitely make the bff list if it weren’t for one little misunderstanding we make. The misunderstanding is that we believe the mind is our Self. There’s compelling evidence for this belief, the mind is only too happy to supply it. On the grand adventure of life the mind functions as your personal translator and story teller, without your mind there would be no perception of Experience, this is where the Kantian philosophy of ‘I think therefore I am’ stems from. So the mind comes to believe its existence is everything, for without it the perception of experience appears to cease to exist. What the mind forgets is that its existence is actually thanks to The Greatest Friend. The function of the mind arises and falls away within the GF, the Ultimate Context. There is so much relief when this is realised, because in fact the mind is burdened with the job of being the Self, it is simply not big enough. The mind has as one of it’s superb functions that of problem solving, at this task it interfaces with the Greatest Friend to provide solutions to the seeming problems life throws our way. The trouble is that when the mind is stuck in the illusion that it is the self, it sees the self as the ultimate problem to solve. There’s such a tremendous laugh when this is seen through, as it’s the greatest joke ever told. When the mind gives up the burden of Selfhood, it very happily resumes its proper place as your Ultimate Servant. The mind is like the most ultimate tool you could ever desire, in fact it is so incredibly downright superb it comes to think it’s running the show, but really, it just wants to be the ultimate and beloved servant of the Real Self. You see it doesn’t have its own heart, and it actually flourishes in the gaze of the Biggest Heart Ever, once it assists itself to simply turn in the direction of this everlasting Love, the Real Self.
So what caused the mind to turn away from the GF? The simple answer is because the GF seems untranslatable to the mind. The mind cannot fathom the fathomless. The mind cannot see the edges of the infinite. So it decided therefore that the GF doesn’t exist, God is dead simply because it can’t be computed, because there seems to be no real evidence. Once this happened a very sad story came to told by the storyteller to itself, one of abandonment. The sad story of abandonment informs all sad stories the mind tells. It is the reason for fear, it is the reason for neediness. Even though the mind believes it has been abandoned by the GF, it simply forgot that it is a story that it in made up for itself, a faulty conclusion, a flawed thesis. All through the life the mind seeks the GF, seeking the face of the Beloved in the mirror of life. But as all that the mind observes and translates is phenomena, and as all phenomena arises and falls away, is born and ultimately dies, the sad story of loss and despair gets repeated again and again and again.
So what to do? The answer is meditation. This extremely simple good habit turns the mind back to the gaze of the Greatest Friend, The Beloved, The Universe, God, The Ineffable, and all the many nicknames of The Nameless. The GF is called Nameless because it simply cannot be defined, no name is adequate. It may be nourishing to express gratitude to the Nameless One through whatever religious or non-religious practice you prefer, but the best way to be nourished by The Sweetest Gaze is by finding it out for yourself through direct experience using the simplest and most Self evident tool of meditation. The mind wont be convinced the Ultimate Bestie exists until it experiences the undeniable unfathomable qualities of the ineffable. So how do we come to understand the Big Mystery? Thankfully It turns out it is in a sense effable, but not by the waking mind, the workaday mind can only translate and tell stories about it. The daily grind mind can provide clues that you are on the right track, but The Biggest Beautiful can only be perceived by Itself. Thankfully we can get the tiniest glimpse while alive on earth through what I’m going to call the Heart. This is Big Mind, the mind that has been rendered speechless with awe, the mind who shuts up about its opinions and surrenders to bathe in inexplicable undoing.
So what is this ‘Heart’ I’m referring to? Through meditation you can meet the Heart again and again and again. The Heart is my term for how we experience The Biggie. While embodied we can only experience a teeny taste of the ineffable, simply because the full taste will destroy us. While we are here having fun and suffering on Earth, the Sauce is drip fed. Don’t be concerned, eventually the illusion of separation will fall away, the exquisite tension of the game of the personality will end, and it will let out a final sweet breath of delight in the return to be fully One again.
The Heart is experienced pretty bountifully without meditation, you may notice. Things like falling in love, gratitude, all forms of appreciation, all experiences of joy, all laughter, all these feelings of love while alive are experienced by the Heart, and translated into story telling (words, images, symbols) by the waking mind, and felt by the experience of the emotions through the body. It’s also felt any time you are in the Zone, those moments of peak creativity when you are so one with it, that you forget your sense of loneliness or insufficiency. It is also experienced in peak moments of surrender through suffering, when we let go deep into vulnerability and grace is recognised as holding us all along. These are all spontaneous gifts received when the mind let’s down its guard, and stops telling the sad story of abandonment for a moment. The grand thing about meditation is that it teaches you to make a habit of love. You no longer have to wait for happenstance to deliver it, you can go straight to the Source, and be nourished by the nectar of the Beloved any time, as well as during those spontaneous moments, what Joy! Thank Goodness! Of course we will continue to forget about this, and life continues to remind us through these small gifts of glimpses of the Absolute, and we remember the good habit of meditation again.
The Heart is also your intuition, tuning into the whispers of the heart will lead you to the honey, as the Heart is hooked up, has a direct line to the All Knowing.
How is the GF experienced by the Heart in meditation? The answer is go find out! However we can have a little chat about it for the enjoyment of the mind, as this helps the daily grind mind be on board and helpful with building the habit of meditation, rather than distracting us with what it thinks might give us better results, namely the pursuit of objects (this includes people) for happiness. Objects are like teddy bears to a lonely orphan, since the suffering mind determined god is dead, and we are abandoned on a meaningless rock in space, the pursuit of objects is the main past time here on earth. What we know is true but still get angsty about is that it is the nature of all objects to arise and fall away, and are ultimately empty. Pretty existential huh. Lucky for us we are an expression of the Lover and the Beloved. We too arise and fall away, and are celebrated and grieved for naturally by Life As Us.