A Reflection on Meditative Inquiry
The work of simple, moment-to-moment listening to what is.
by Sandra Gonzalez
Meditative Inquiry or the Work of this Moment, are names that have been given to a work that cannot be completely captured in words. A visitor once asked Toni Packer, who was then in the last few years of her life, what her understanding of this work was and what she could share after so many years of engaging in meditative work. Without hesitation, she replied, “Being here.” Being here is whole and inclusive, embraces life itself and is the essence of meditation. There is also a simple listening that comes out of just being here; a listening that is whole, connected and empty handed. The mind is not fixed on anything, but rather is open, innocent and flexible. Listening is not obstructed by any frame of reference.
Also during the years that Toni was bed bound, a group of people interested in the work of the Center would come to her house to gather around her bed for a dialogue. On one of these occasions, an attendee asked Toni how actions that are ethical, mindful and compassionate can emerge, especially at a Center where there are no specific practices given to encourage compassion and virtue. Toni, in this instance, said that “awareness is ethical.” For this person, the truth of that statement stilled all the chattering and a silent space opened up. No words could express the warm connection and love that made its way here.
This love is light, a clarity that reveals the truth of what is in front of us. No division, no “me” and “you”—all are included. A holistic, a more whole perspective of life is revealed. As human beings we live with our predicaments, our need to belong to this group or another, to identify with various traditions and with their specific conditions. And we also share a collective, universal sorrow that stems from ignorance—ignorance of our share in the essential truth of what we are: LOVE, PEACE, AND UNDERSTANDING.
When that is discovered and as we deepen in our understanding of that fact, the arbitrary divisions between you and me, inner and outer and “me and the world,” disappear. There is no need then to make an effort to “be socially conscious,” or to be persuaded of the moral crisis in the human condition. This is the significance of being here: being attentive to and aware of our inner life, which includes the outer as well.
When awareness, that is in itself whole, all inclusive, dawns upon the human heart then there is a seeing of the relationship between each other, the interconnectedness. Amazingly there is no longer the possibility, or at least not the probability, that we will latch onto a fragment and get stuck there.
The possibility arises that all our actions may be whole, total, natural and without effort; these actions can address the situation at hand, what is in front of us, from this depth of understanding.
Every action or non-action will have the perfume of wholeness, compassion and a more creative living will pour out spontaneously and effortlessly.
This is the Alternative way of Living that Springwater Center offers and invites us to explore. Facing conflict right on. In the Dalai Lama’s words, “Happiness is our birthright.” Divisions born out of this ingrained human predicament obscure the fact that we are one undivided whole, and cause us to ignore our connection to everybody and everything. We are able, through being here and simple listening, to discover a natural way of living within ourselves and each other, a more holistic way, which embraces all.
Diversity seen from awareness does not know colors, race or gender. Awareness comes from the darkness of not knowing, which is wholeness, openness, aliveness—life itself. There is humility and wisdom available that will permeate what we do or don’t do, wherever we are. Love cannot harm nor divide—Behold it All!
Could we let action flow from this love and intelligence?