Entering the Temple of Being

Entering the Temple of Being

Whenever you’re preparing to listen to one of these meditations, do what you can to bring silence to your surroundings, to your mind, and to your heart. Remember, it takes years for most of us to become adept at centering ourselves. Don’t be discouraged if you’re still struggling, because the next few meditations are designed to help you get there. Please use them as many times as they are helpful to you, and, if you have some other process that already works for you, by all means use it. I suggest always starting with some deep breaths. Breathe in peace and breathe out your worries. Begin whenever you are ready.

Now we will begin.

Today you will enter the temple.

I will show you how to get there.

Picture yourself moving down a footpath through the woods beneath the faint light of the stars. You come to a small cave and you slip inside, staying back in the shadows near the wall and looking upon a fire that burns there in the center. You watch it flicker and glow, throwing shadows upon the stone dome. You feel like a stranger. An intruder. But I assure you, you are not. Take a step forward. Now another. Get close enough to the fire, so that you can feel its warmth on your skin. Now look around the cave. This is your temple. You have come through the darkness to the sacred place. In time, it will become your favorite place to go. Your secret hideaway. A place where you can go anytime, anywhere, and no one can follow you. Whether you are at work or riding the train or standing in a line at the grocery store, you can sneak away to your sacred place, and no one can follow you.

Stay here, now, as long as you want. Come back as often as you can.

Go to the fifth meditation, Freedom in Being.

The Temple of Being

The Temple of Being

Have you begun to embrace silence? Then you have started on your journey. As you already see, your path requires persistence. You must form the habit of silence by being silent. It won’t happen overnight. But it will happen.

But your path requires something else. This, too, you already see. You path requires courage. Each step is an act of faith. What will you find on this silent path that leads you through the darkness? Have you guessed? Have you already glimpsed it?

You will find solitude.

Now I have really done it. If you haven’t left already, you are now considering it.

Darkness?

Silence?

Solitude?

It’s all too much, you say!

But please…hear me out.

This solitude of which I speak is not isolation or rejection or abandonment or any of the terrible things you might fear when you hear the word. The solitude of which I speak is a temple. A sacred space where something precious and holy resides, and if you enter into this temple, you will find it.

What? you ask. What will I find?

I tell you, you will find yourself.

Are you happy to hear that?

Does something stir inside at the thought?

Do you recoil in horror?

Shrug in boredom?

Laugh nervously?

Maybe you don’t really like yourself or think you are worth the effort. Maybe you are scared of what you will find. Maybe you have already sensed in your moments of silence that such a meeting cannot occur without everything changing…without the world as you know it coming to an end! Without the earth splitting open and giving birth to something new and glorious, and so you stand now, in fear and trembling, staring at the temple in the distance, longing to enter, but terrified.

I understand. The consciousness of a human being is a weight of glory almost too great to bear. It is, after all, the reason the darkness is even there, perceiving the questions and fears its acute awareness has brought into being. If only we were like the single-cell amoeba, floating in the ocean without a care, or the fox, out searching for food in the night, driven by survival but unaware why, because it is unaware of death. Either fate sometimes seems preferable. No wonder we expend so much effort numbing, drowning, and running from the darkness!

But remember, you have stopped running.

You have crossed the threshold.

You still have much work to do–you still have deeply ingrained habits of dealing with the darkness that will only be broken through mindfulness, perseverance, and trust–but you are on your way.

Go to the fourth meditation, Entering the Temple of Being.

The Silence of Being

The Silence of Being

You have crossed the threshold. But now you are terrified. Or unsure. Perhaps wondering where this will all lead. I tell you, you cannot know. You must have faith. You must trust that facing the darkness is better than hiding from it. That walking into it is better than running from it. Have you ever found the light in your hiding? In your running? Was it there when you turned up the music or drank yourself into oblivion? How about when you proved you were right or when you were invited to come along? The fleeting forgetfulness was there…the validation was there, but the light?

No….

And you want the light.

The light is why you are searching. You are drawn to it. You desire it. Perhaps tentatively. Perhaps desperately. But the light is what you seek.

So here it is. The next step….

You must embrace silence.

You are relieved. Okay, I can do that, you say. Or, maybe, you are disappointed. You suspected all along. Maybe you are shocked. Incredulous. Outraged.

Silence?

How ridiculous.

How impossible!

Perhaps you have already tried, and it did not go well. Maybe you got impatient, distracted, or frustrated. Maybe you were scared. It’s okay. You might find it unpleasant at first. Maybe frightening. You will wonder about its point. I assure you, it is a means to end. Perhaps the only means to your only end. To your fulfillment and fruition–to your telos.

You must take little, practical steps to embrace silence. Shut off your music. Power off your phone. Right now, find a quiet spot and shut the door. Sit somewhere comfortable and light a candle, or go for a walk in the woods or a park. If you are on the subway or in the breakroom, just close your eyes. Try it for just a bit right now.  Two minutes. Five minutes. Ten. Be patient with yourself.  Don’t give up. If the darkness comes surging up, tell yourself it’s okay, because it is–it’s only a fear of the unknown. Eventually it will lose its power over you. But it takes time. And faith.

Remember you are a child of the light and the darkness is no match for you.

Stay here as long as you can. Come back as often as you want.

Go the the third meditation, The Temple of Being.

The Darkness of Being

The Darkness of Being

Life is dark.

But it’s okay.

You don’t have to run from it.

It’s tempting, for sure. Anything is easier than looking at it, anything easier than acknowledging it.

You know what darkness I mean.

That nagging, unsettled grasping within that must be appeased or will rise up, overcome you, and drag you down into its abyss. You don’t really understand it, but you are adept at keeping it at bay through fleeting validations of your existence.

Were you chosen for the promotion? Did they sit with you at lunch? Like your photo? Laugh at your jokes? Ask for your opinion? If so, you are validated. Worthy! At least for now…. The darkness staved off for a bit. Until tomorrow when it creeps back in.

Will they still like me?

Want me?

You must wager that they will, put on a brave face and believe it will be so, because if not, the darkness will slink its way up and suffocate you. Your unliked photo will be a testament to all the world of your unworthiness. The empty seat beside you at lunch, a bullhorn bleating out your pathetic insignificance. Maybe you try to outrun it, rush through your life at a frantic pace, the darkness always just one step behind you, nipping at your heels. Maybe you numb it for a while with consciousness-altering substances. Try to drown it out with the cacophony of words and sounds and images that pour in an unceasing stream into the gaping mouth of our modern existence.

Perhaps you welcome such diversions. Perhaps you have settled for distraction, because, even though you barely understand the darkness, you understand that it cannot be obliterated. That, if you are not vigilant, it will break through and overtake you. But, what you haven’t yet grasped, is that the darkness is no match for you. You run from it because you do not understand who you are. You have not understood that your fear of the darkness is what keeps you in the dark.

You must stop running from it.

You must turn and face it now.

Stand there by the power of the fire that burns inside you and acknowledge its presence.

Declare to it that you are no longer its slave.

Declare to it that it has no power over you any longer.

Declare to yourself that from this day forward you will endeavor to live by the fire that burns within you, for you are a child of the light.

Go to the second meditation, The Silence of Being.