How to Meditate, Article – April 16, 2010
Make No Mistake
it is the belief
that leads one
I wrote this poem down some three or four days ago and just now got around to posting it. The whole idea has been rolling around in my awareness for a while, and though a number of versions have come out, including this one—
Make No Mistake
believing in mistakes
is the only mistake
I am holding to the original, as it has something particular to it that is not in this slimmer version. It is an important difference, and I would like to go into it here. The poem occurred to me in meditation practice as much of my poetry does. It may not be clear at first glance, but the subject of the poem is “stilling the mind”.
I do not make it a habit of explaining my poems, as they express something real and experiential in an elegant manner that cannot be readily expressed by prose. I want to make an exception with this poem because the subject is fascinating me at the moment.
Inner Lives and Outer Lives
As excited as we all may get about our inner lives, we still have a biological and material world to manage. I know very few people who make a living doing what they love. Work life for most seems to be full of compromises. This remains a deep frustration for those who wish to practice a meditative life in day-to-day activities— life as meditation.
Working the land would likely be a different story, yet living and working among others who do not share our ideas or aspirations can lead to conflict on many levels. Starting meditation does help us to both minimize stress and deepen our sense of inner peace— and this often carries over into other areas of lives. So, is this the most that we can expect?
To get back to this poem, I want to take a closer look at the nature of mistakes. From a Zen and Taoist point of view, the experience of no-mind (or empty mind) is a great remedy to the problems that appear to emerge out of the apparent contrast between “inner” and “outer” life. To the degree that we can stay out of our heads, we do feel more peaceful.
Choice-Making and a Fear of Mistakes
So much of our “outer” or “materialistic” lives deal with us making choices. We are headed somewhere and we try and steer our ways along these paths as best we can. We struggle to make the best decisions and naturally regard the alternatives to these wise choices as mistakes. What invariably drives us into our heads is the process of choice-making— the fear of mistakes.
If we accept that the experience of dimension is secondary to our inner lives, then it becomes clear that our true selves never actually go anywhere. It is our preoccupation with direction and path that brings up all of this stress. If our start and finish are the same then does it matter what shape our biological and circumstantial lives take?
Dimension is temporary while who we are is eternal. Our heart goes right on beating without our influence. Our bodies function wholly without any decisions. It is the wisdom of nature that keeps all this in harmony—so where does this harmony stop and something else begin? Does our human behavior (due to “free will”) escape Mother Nature’s wisdom?
“Free will” is an idea that lives in our heads right next to the idea of “mistakes”. They are both mental constructs. Dimensional life can be divided between organic nature that arises effortlessly by itself and inorganic nature that is imposed due to “free will” and the idea of “choice”. To take my life as an example—nothing that I pushed into being out of decision has ever gone well.
By contrast, everything that ever happened by itself to me has proved to be extremely harmonic. These I consider mistakes as they emerged out a struggle in the mind over various options. In short, my only mistakes were due to a belief in mistakes. This is the difference between the two poems above. We CAN make mistakes by going with our minds instead of our hearts (feelings).
Choosing Out of No-Mind or the Heart
Without our mental struggles it is the heart that takes over. I should point out here that awareness is still very present when the mind is empty. For those unfamiliar with the experience of awareness without mental preoccupation, it must be said: we have greater awareness of possibility when the mind is stilled.
It is fear that has us forcing decisions. The idea of abandoning our dimensional lives to the wisdom of Mother Nature is just too much to consider. It seems a foolish idea. So we struggle over various options and miss much of what the present moment would otherwise offer. This is what leads us to live in perpetual inner argument. All of life becomes political and inorganic.
Is it a wonder that we struggle with so much disease and disintegration? Mind-directed life energies can distort our biological lives. Society and circumstance presses us down and natural energy patterns in the gross and subtle bodies become distorted. Body, Mind and Spirit all suffer. It is true that meditation can turn much of this around, even if only practiced intermittently.
Indifference and Freedom
I want to bring up the idea of indifference. The popular understanding of the word “indifference” has negative connotations—and has come to mean “not caring—not supportive—abandoned”. This is skewed. Indifference in truth leaves one free to express anything. Indifference is synonymous with absolute freedom. Indifference implies we have not made any decision in the matter.
I don’t feel that I have ever experienced this level of freedom. Judgments are so deeply ingrained. We spend our whole lives navigating by dodging this and embracing that according to what we have been programmed to expect. Can we really live without making choices and instead let choices make themselves? Without this natural wisdom in play I feel I am dabbling in an art I will continue to fail miserably at.
I was never meant to choose. The very act of choosing expresses doubts and a lack of trust in nature. Will providence be present? Is life so abundant that my needs will be met through Mother Nature’s wisdom? I want to trust that just as my heart beats all by itself so will fulfillment occur on all other levels. Do I become an unattended pinball in a great pinball machine or does the machine of life (nature) observe a harmony that will prevail more fully in the absence of my disruptive identity-based choices?
Nature: Effortless and Harmonious
It is the struggles that go on in the mind that lead us to overwhelmingly oppressive and negative emotions. Given the opportunity to free oneself with the knowledge that no mistake can be made, things begin to lighten up. According to the law of attraction, the unburdened psyche out of relief is more attractive and positive and will attract accordingly. If we build our circumstantial and social lives in this effortless way do they not continue to function in a harmonious manner?
As a part of nature myself, am I not naturally and organically directed towards my own personal fulfillment— directed wholly by the energies in my person manifesting as impulse and vision, or must I impose ideas and strategies?