Avoiding incoherent nibbling on the spiritual path (III)
by Maxim Hongell
Read also, the second part of the article
Toward lasting, divine experiences
Because the actions of incoherent nibbling can momentarily generate very beautiful and profound peak experiences we sometimes mistake them with something lasting. But after a while we might forget those states because we re-call them only once in a while with a certain nostalgic reminiscence or we move our focus completely to something else. We identify ourselves with the memory of us having the state while in reality we cannot fully access the state at the moment. In this way the experience will not be fully integrated into our sphere of consciousness. Then the experience starts to fade away as we move on to the next one. Life becomes a movement from one peak experience to the next and what happens in between is a grey area that we are not so much aware of.
For example we start a tapas of meditation with a new mantra that we received and we experience some states during the practice. But then outside of the practice our experience of everyday life is somehow “normal” and we do not actively evoke the experiences from the meditation. Soon enough the energy of the beginning is used up and the experiences in the practice start to diminish. Then we receive another interesting technique and we give up the previous one at a moment where it had actually been very good to continue. Then we go on with the new technique, again reaching some states. At the same time the experiences from the previous practice with the mantra have become only a vague memory and we are not capable of evoking them. Eventually they become a peak experience we had “back then”.
If we start waiting for the next experience having the feeling of “then and there…” instead of “here and now”, we might start to “hunt” for states. We might try to reach the so-called high experiences while in the same time we forget that divine experiences are everywhere. All we need to do is to actively open up for them like a blank book ready to be written on. Sometimes we wait for that “next experience”, that “promise of a better tomorrow”, the future that will give us fulfilment. But this we do with the cost of awareness upon the present moment that becomes secondary. We create a gap between the so-called spiritual experiences and so-called normal experiences and the totality of experiences becomes incoherent because of this gap. And then we just nibble with the peak experiences moving from one to another.
Nibbling can be avoided by taking one peak experience and aiming to evoke it as often as possible, meditating upon it, aiming to integrate it into our everyday life. In this way we can cultivate the experience by going deeper and deeper into it and some day we might be able to fully access the peak at will. With this kind of practice all the so-called everyday and normal actions become meaningful in a very joyful way. Gradually all of them can become means to reach God, thus coherent on our spiritual path.
Practice that is steady as a rock
If we have at our disposal a huge variety of techniques there might sometimes come the temptation just to test a little of everything without choosing anything to settle into. The extremely rich and amazing variety of different techniques is there so that everyone can find a suitable one for themselves and generate transformation by practice. There is a big difference between testing techniques to know how they work and testing them just for the sake of a new experience for the inferior mind. Because of this it is good to set clear goals, choose the correct techniques and to continue the practice until the goals are reached. If the goals are high enough they “push” us to settle into something. Then we just need to take care not to give up the practice before the proper results appear.
The inferior mind can play many tricks on us when we aim for a long-term practice. When we reach some effects, which are not yet the actual goal, the mind can try to lure us into making compromises. It might suggest that maybe we should practice something else for a while because anyway the effects are already starting to show up. Or it comes up with something that has suddenly an enormous importance which might be even argued quite cleverly by the mind. Or the mind can make us desperately interested about something new that we discovered. Then we might be tempted to quit the so-called old practice that seems to always be the same and boring compared with the new one. By making a lucid and divine introspection with discernment we can separate the actions that will lead to transformation from the ones that will not. The actions that lead to transformation make our walking on the path coherent.
The mind can be like a child playing different kind of games. For a little while a game is lots of fun but soon enough the mind gets bored with it and changes to something else. But we can use our spiritual maturity in order to remain in another kind of childlike state, in a state of wonder. Then we can always see the practice with new eyes, always like it was fresh, in a divine way through profound transfiguration. In this way we can see the magic of a practice and remain fully attentive even though performing the same technique month after month or even year after year. This allows us to dive deeper and deeper into the effects of the technique and become aware of all of its wonderful details.
When we settle into a practice there can be constant progress. We should become aware of the aspects that we can do better and perfectionate because any practice can have a constant process of transformation. If the practice does not transform, it is difficult to maintain it for a long time. Then it becomes something casual, a routine and we might start to do it mechanically. Instead we can constantly find new aspects, awaken the magic of the practice and remember that God is watching each step that we take. In this way we can hear the Divine Call that awakens our aspiration and we answer that Call through our practice.