Slaughter and War Spew from Time and Memory
Overhanging the gorge are great angular outcroppings of volcanic rock — solid and sharp-edged protrusions from some long-ago eruption of Lassen or some other volcano in the area. In many places, the sheer sides of the gorge have huge slabs balanced on top of them — some looking like a giant stonemason had placed them there. Other large formations, with deep fissures where they meet the canyon wall, sit vertically in precarious positions, awaiting the next major earthquake to send them tumbling into the stream below. Beyond the gorge, gently sloping grasslands ascend to the base of the sheer cliffs that form the perimeter of the canyon. Perched near the precipice under one of the plentiful oaks in the area, I can hear the rushing of the stream at the bottom of the glistening gorge, which stretches for hundreds of meters down and away.The grasses around me are so dry that they break at the touch, and appear golden from even a meter away. Directly across, beyond the narrow gorge within the sanctuary of the large, fan-shaped canyon, are majestic cliffs, rising hundreds of meters into a cloud-scudded sky.Big buzzards, masters of air currents, appear as lumbering leviathans next to smaller, more agile woodland hawks that follow in their wake, screeching as they wheel and dive into the trees at the foot of the cliffs.Time ends, and the mind, anchored in the present, hears echoes from the distant past as the monstrous explosions of the present fade. The people who once lived in this beautiful place come to mind and heart. Something of their essence is still here. Listening deeply in a meditative state, one hears their whispers across the land.Native Americans loved this canyon, and revered it as sacred. They were wiped out or assimilated into a dominant culture that sees the land only in terms of ownership, profit and conflict. The mind in meditation is like a laser effortlessly boring through the strata of cumulative consciousness — memories not only from one’s own life but the lives of all previous generations, which lie within us. When time ends, the light of the cosmos pours into one, and one participates, however briefly, in the infinite intelligence beyond thought and memory.Even for adept meditators, indeed perhaps even for illumined human beings, the meditative state is not a constant, but a quality of consciousness that one has to ignite each day by making space for undivided, undirected attention. Nature is crucial to the process, though a mindful, silent walk through a park in the middle of a city, followed by a half hour’s sitting in one’s residence with the light flooding in as the bustle goes on below, can be sufficient to generate a radical shift in consciousness.Spiritual knowledge is the easiest thing to fake, but meditative states are much harder to feign. The world is full of followers, and only a few stand alone. Any clever man or woman can put on wisdom robes and pass himself or herself off as an enlightened guru. There’s an entire industry of such charlatans now, willing to sell you their books, DVD’s, retreats, or whatever.The supposedly enlightened ones mislead people, telling them how they can get from here to there, from this consciousness to the next. Becoming sells, especially with regard to enlightenment, because time is all we know, in one form or another. But one does not ‘attain enlightenment;’ one enters the dimension of pure being through the back door, quietly and anonymously. There’s nothing to reach as an end; growth occurs through negation. That’s a paradox, not a contradiction.Our consciousness is based on time. Not chronological time, but psychological time — becoming this or becoming that. We’re nearly always looking ahead to something, or back through memory. Chronological time is obviously necessary for carrying out tasks and attaining external goals, but is time involved at all in radical change and revolution in consciousness?Time is antithetical to transmutation and psychological revolution. Spiritual growth only occurs when time, as the past overshadowing the present and foreshadowing the future, ends.Looking forward to things is healthy, but when time-based consciousness is all one knows, one is a slave to becoming, memory and war. And what can anyone look forward to except more war now anyway? Humans are devolving not evolving, and not just some humans but man generally. Psychological time and memory are preventing us from growing into human beings.Martin LeFevre
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Martin LeFevre, a contemplative, philosopher and writer in northern California, serves as a contributing writer for The Seoul Times. His "Meditations" explore and offer insights on spiritual, philosophical and political questions in the global society. LeFevre's philosophical thesis proposes a new theory of human nature. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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