A deeply devoted Zen monk slowly climbed the mountain path. He took even breaths as the air thinned above him. Steadily he made his way to the summit. There he rested. The peace that transcends time, space, religion, and being surrounded him.
If you’re like me and think with your “western” ideas the preceding may be the one of the images your mind conjures when you think of enlightenment. Too often our ideas on consciousness or enlightenment are centered on a mystical almost forbidden impression or religion. This is particularly harmful because it causes us to shun the world within and look for answers in the world without. Great power must come from somewhere, and we have found that it can only be found by reaching within.
Meditation has long been the most direct method of getting in touch with the “other” self. Peace comes through silence and stillness. The Old Testament states it most simply, “Be Still and Know that I Am God (book of Psalms 46:10).” Through silence one comes in contact with the Infinite. God being eternal, omnipotent, and omnipresent exists in the silent cracks of reality. Through the physical process of slowing down the brain waves and being still it is said one can become closer to knowing God.
I have found that living consciously can be accomplished through indirect means as well. Through the act of giving the embodiment of living infinitely can be found. Let me demonstrate how.
Giving comes in many forms it can be physical, monetary, emotional, and expressive. For example giving can be in the form of lending someone your shoulder to cry upon as in an emotional giving situation or as in giving sincere appreciation for a job well done in an expressive giving experience. Many philosophers and intellectuals have correctly identified much of the giving (and perhaps all) is essentially motivated by selfish desires. For example one may give all their possessions to the poor, yet they are doing so to make themselves feel better and imagine they are a helpful person.
Simultaneously, along with our selfish desire being fulfilled, a much greater occurrence takes place! To a varying degree, the giving individual steps outside them self to become conscious to the needs of another. No matter how selfish the “giving” this must occur. The less selfish the act of giving the more one is able to become conscious of the fact that the two seemly separate entities share the same relationship with the Infinite. Once this truth is recognized the idea of giving and receiving clearly shows that both separate parties’ benefit as much as the whole.
The act of giving allows individuals to access a greater power within themselves! Salesmen, great statesmen, and leaders have known this for years. The best salesmen so identify with the desire of their clients they can actually anticipate the need before it happens. Great leaders that identify with their followers put their followers needs before themselves earning the respect and loyalty of the masses. Living a spiritual life does not always entail climbing the mountain of Zen or making a Holy Pilgrimage but can exist in the everyday activities and interactions of our lives.
Beautiful photo by Jerrold