In meditation we allow everything to be what it already is. This isn’t something we have to try to do however – things already are what they are so where’s the need to ‘try’?
This sounds very simple of course – and the basic idea is very simple – but being simple is nevertheless the hardest thing to do. It’s the hardest thing of all. It’s as if we can’t help complicating matters and when we try not to complicate matters then we complicate them all the more! Trying to be uncomplicated is in itself a complicated thing…
So although meditation means that we are ‘allowing everything to be what it already is’, in practise we are almost inevitably going to fall into the trap of controlling or striving. We’re going to fall back into the default mode of struggling / controlling / striving because that’s what we do – that’s our normal mode of being.
This isn’t a problem however – if the way that we are is to be striving or struggling or trying to control things, then we allow this to be what it is. The way we are isn’t wrong, it’s just ‘the way we are’! In meditation we don’t fight against our thinking or controlling or judging or reacting (etc) – if we did this then they would be no meditation, only striving, only ‘struggling to be different from the way we are’. Struggling to be different from the way we are isn’t going to make us any different however because ‘how we always are’ is to be involved in perpetual struggling.
This is a hard idea for us to digest since we have been brought up to believe that striving is the way to change ourselves, and that it is good on this account. If we can’t change ourselves then we believe that this is because we aren’t striving hard enough, not because we’re striving too much. No matter what we might believe however striving to change ourselves causes us to be stuck – we’re stuck in our own fruitless striving and so this isn’t in any way a beneficial situation to us. It’s actually a ‘suffering-producing’ situation…
We see striving and struggling as a very good thing, an admirable thing (on the whole) but when it’s meditation we’re talking about then this is simply ‘the default mode’ and the default mode isn’t meditation. The default mode is an automatic, reflex-type reaction and nothing more. This isn’t conscious behaviour, it isn’t anything to do with ‘becoming aware of what’s going on’, it’s just ‘a reflex judgement of our situation’ which is then automatically followed by ‘an involuntary mechanical reaction based on this judgement’, and so that’s not adding anything new to the mix.
Meditation is bringing something new into the mix. What’s new is actual awareness and awareness changes everything. Awareness changes everything just by being awareness. Someone has turned the light switch on (so to speak) and things will never be the same. Even when it seems that nothing has changed it has and this change hasn’t been brought about by forcing or controlling. It hasn’t been brought about by anything – it just happens ‘naturally’.
Awareness doesn’t seek to change anything; that’s not what awareness does. Awareness is awareness – it isn’t about furthering some idea we have about what is right or wrong, good or bad, which is what our normal everyday life is all about. Another way of putting this is to say that awareness isn’t aggressive. If awareness were aggressive then this aggression would distort whatever it is that we are supposedly being aware of! The only way awareness can show us something true (i.e., something that exists independently from what we’d like to see or believe to be the case) is if there is zero aggression going on, zero bias, zero self-assertion. In awareness there is no assertion, only completely open receptivity.
When we’re talking about ‘letting everything be what it already is’ we’re talking about this state of completely open or unprejudiced receptivity, therefore. Our normal approach (which is to say, our cultural bias) to this business of ‘letting things be what they already are’ is to see it as being passive or lazy and say that we shouldn’t be this way. Essentially, we’re ‘leaving the door open to see what comes in’ and this seems irresponsible to us, dangerous even. We’re supposed to be controlling. We have to ‘keep on top of things’ we say, we have to be forever ‘striving to achieve our goals’. We have to ‘fight the good fight’, as it were.
But when we consider that what we are calling ‘passivity’ here, in this distinctly disparaging way, is actually the state of unprejudiced awareness (the state in which we see everything for what it actually is, regardless of our inbuilt biases, regardless of our likes and dislikes) then to say we shouldn’t be open in this way (which is of course what dogmatic religions say) and that ‘allowing things to be what they are’ is somehow irresponsible or dangerous starts to sound more than just a little bit suspect. It sounds like ‘mind-control’. What’s going on here? What are we protecting?
What we’re protecting turns out to be our illusions and – needless to say – protecting our illusions isn’t really a very healthy thing to be doing! What good are our illusions going to do us? What we’re actually engaged in here is a prolonged act of denial, and ‘denial’ is another way of talking about the ongoing struggle to make things be what they’re not. This is therefore an ongoing struggle that is guaranteed to turn out badly for us. Meditation isn’t about trying to change this state of affairs, however (even though we might think it is) – meditation is about allowing it to be what it is, which means seeing it for what it is. We’re not trying to stop our controlling because ‘trying to stop our controlling’ is controlling. That’s just us ‘interfering with our own interfering’ and interfering with our interfering isn’t going to get us anywhere. It’s ‘double-interfering’ – we’ve made our situation even more complicated than it was before. What does help – however – is learning ‘the art of non-interference’, which is another way of talking about meditation.