on writing, God, Qi
I read recently that Norman Mailer would write down every thought, idea, dream and so forth that he had when high. I don’t smoke marijuana, but I sometimes wish that I would write down more of the things that happen to pass through my mind, even if only for my own purposes. Especially in the early morning as I am waking up I find myself particularly prone to insights and able to articulate illuminations in my mind that don’t seem to be as readily available as the day ensues with all of its accumulations, sun tracking through the sky..
The series of entries that I wrote below concerning “Thank You God” spilt out of me over a period of several days. Unfortunately, like much of what I end up putting down here, it consists of a mesh of overly didactic stilted phrasing and plain ol’ TMI. This sort of thing probably serves to explain why I end up deleting so many posts rather than letting them rot in the archives.
The gist of that series came from a very personal and genuine place, though. While reading this David Godman interview several years ago, I found the notion of thanking God for any and all dispensations that come our way, whether apparently good or apparently bad, to be a very provocative one. I especially found it interesting that this guy who is a Ramana scholar and who has hung out with Nisargadatta and Papaji, this Western genuine authority on Advaita, would end up quoting from a book by some Christian woman. I have not been able to find any references to this book online, and so I am assuming that it was part of some tiny print-run through some evangelical church or some such.
The thing is, since reading that interview, I have discovered for myself that the practice of thanking God positively does work. Aside from the benefits of no longer resisting what is, and all of the trouble that comes along with fighting against reality, some positive and unexpected change always seems to come about through such a practice, almost as if by magic. But more importantly than any change in one’s external environment is the deepened appreciation for God’s love and deepening of devotion to God that is effected by this practice. As I mention in the little essay series below, it is an excellent way of short-circuiting the ego and its motivations, and entering into a larger view that is more peaceful and more loving and more consistent with reality.
Along similar lines, a few months ago I was reading some stuff by different “neo-Advaitins”…self-styled guru types who travel around offering satsang and who maintain websites and have books published and all of that sort of thing. This one guy, “Nirmala”, was mentioning how he began to practice wishing for exactly what was occurring at any given moment, which I guess is basically just a slightly different spin on thanking God for both good and bad alike. He emphasized the idea of really cultivating the sense of enthusiastic desire for whatever is taking place, which I guess is similar to Godman’s noting that one must not merely utter the words of gratitude, but REALLY FEEL genuinely grateful as well.
I also want to mention briefly how important but apparently neglected the topic of internal energies/the subtle energetic system is. By “neglected”, I mean that there are countless books and teachings on spirituality which advise us to attend to or even change our minds, our mental habits, in one way or another; however, oftentimes little or no mention at all is made of how one’s psychophysical energies affect these processes. Quite simply put, most Westerners or people living a modern-day “Western” lifestyle are quite out of balance subtle-energy wise, and would benefit greatly from practicing hatha yoga or tai chi or qigong or some similar internal exercise. Without the benefits of such practices, any “spiritual” work presents a much more difficult and obstacle-laden path than it need be.
Many or most people living the Western lifestyle are so overamped and overstimulated, and/or prone to stagnation and depressed energies, that it is very difficult for them to begin to settle into the the sort of relaxed state that is most conducive to spiritual practice. The sad thing is that a calm, relaxed, balanced state actually feels terrifically foreign to most people! An agitated, out-of-wack disposition has become the default, the norm for most folks. And when people do receive a massage or take a yoga class or some such and finally feel a taste of relaxation and harmonious energetic flow, then they think that it is some wonderful, exotic feeling when in fact is more the normal condition under which the human organism optimally operates.
Now, it is true that some “in the head” sort of spiritual practices will on their own affect the body’s energetic system in a beneficial way. However, generally speaking, it is much easier to affect the mind via the body. In other words, doing physical yoga exercises will soothe and balance the energetic system, and the mind as well, much faster than will meditation or contemplative exercises alone. In short, I cannot emphasize enough the value of doing practices which heal and balance the subtle energies. Aside from contributing to overall health and one’s sense of physical and mental well-being, such practices make any spiritual endeavors a thousand times easier…
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