Sunday, September 25, 2005

Being Centered - A Conversation with Mark Walter

September 24, 2005

Cage

life, slipping away,
never knowing who I am
or why I am here

S. Nice haiku, Mark. Maybe at that very moment we die we'll know who we were and why we were here.

M. OMG... let's not wait that long, okay? Whew. We gotta know now. That's the game. That's the greatest obsession... to become aware. What a wonderful obsession. :-) !! To live in awareness. May that happen to you, very soon, in this lifetime. I hope you experience that.

S. I hope I do, too! It's a deep longing, Mark. Wow! I can't even tell you. :) I feel like I'm going out of my mind because of it, but I've heard that that is a common feeling in those who are starting out on their journey.

M. That's because it isn't centered in the mind, hence the expression and feeling. You have to center in a different spot.

S. How does one find that spot? Through meditation? Do you meditate often?

M. Well, I don't think I meditate all that traditionally. Sometimes I lay down to relax. That's not meditation. Sometimes I will focus on helping someone or think about solving a problem. I suppose that is a form of meditation, but also prayer. You know? It is inhaling and receiving (meditation), and exhaling and giving (prayer).

I often go into "the zone", the so-called mushin state, or empty mind... to receive direction. That definitely is a form of meditation. I am trying to be in that spot more and more. I don't live in it constantly.

Sensei once told me the best way to learn to meditate is to do so in everyday life. I took his advice. He wasn't debunking traditional mediation, he was simply saying, "Here is the best practice for meditation – application in everyday life."

S. I was taught "driving meditation" by a Buddhist monk. I can't say I've practiced it all that much because sometimes I get a little angry behind the wheel, mostly when someone gets on my tail. And I really dislike that I get like that, but I don't notice it until after it happens. That must show the real me - that I can actually get angered. I'm not supposed to be like that.

I kind of do like you - lay down to relax. I try to use it as a form of meditation but I always fall asleep. :D I'd like to practice more of the sitting in lotus position kind of meditation.

But Sensei sounds right. We can use our everyday life as a form of meditation.

M. Well, we are like that though (getting angry, etc.). Sensei states that we have to accept the reality that we live in world of right and wrong. No one is all right, and no one is all wrong. So each of us are right and wrong. No exceptions. Perfection in this world, he states, is learning to balance ourselves in a world of right and wrong. It takes some of the pressure off ;-)

S. That makes me feel a little better. I guess we can't be perfect after all, no matter how hard we try. Sensei is a man of wisdom. So are you. :)

M. That whole perfection thing is a huge crock of ***t. It is (imo) one of the greatest misconceptions ever put on people. In Christianity, they serve up Jesus as perfect. He committed zero sin. He never did wrong.

That is such a huge pile of s***. To say he never did wrong or to say he was perfect is to build a model that is unattainable. And it lets the priests, ministers, and teachers off the hook for not being able to give their followers the teachings that bring people to the actual inner experience that we are all craving. They can't do it! So much for their standard of perfection.

Jesus was an imperfect being. It is so simple to see: He breathed polluted air, and ate food that wasn't 100% pure. He had bowel movements and pissed... showing that he had waste. He was imperfect. Yet, he carved the Way and a Path in spite of his burdens and imperfections. That’s "the good news" to me!

It is impossible for God, God's only Son, or the greatest of all Teachers to be perfect. Imperfection is part of the universe, part of God's creation. If God is in all things (which he is), and at the center of all things, than he is certainly in the center of imperfection.

This is a subject that really upsets me and gets me going, because we all live under these impossible expectations of perfection. Such expectations put the experience out of our reach. And that’s wrong! It’s a sin!

S. I've read some passages from The Gospel of Thomas, and one of those passages tells of Jesus killing a boy? Funny how the Gospel of Thomas didn't make it into the canon.

I'm not intolerant of the Christian faith, but one thing I disagree with is that Jesus was God's only son. If there is a God, then we are *all* God's children.

M. It says, "God's only begotten Son".

S. But what if we look at it from a different perspective? In the view that we are all part of God? Then we are all begotten by God. If my mother and father have part of God in them, when they conceived me, I am therefore part of God and hence begotten by God.

M. Oh yes, I completely agree. And having a firstborn doesn't negate the existence of other children. But the first Soul, the Prime Creator, the Master Soul came out of the emptiness, and had awareness.

I actually remember being born as a soul. I recall the experience of coming into awareness. But there was someone looking into my eyes when I first opened them. The firstborn, the Master Soul, didn't have anyone looking into his/her eyes.

With respect to Buddha, who's to say that wasn't an incarnation of 'the only begotten Son'? Awareness is not the domain of only that Soul. Awareness is the 'objective' of that soul... to spread it, to help others experience and realize it.

S. I see what you're saying now. Buddha and Jesus could both have been incarnates of the same soul. But if we all originate from the same source, we are all part of that same soul. It's just that we're all trying to realize it. That brings us back to we're all God's children. We are God, therefore we are the parents, therefore we are the children. We are the seed and the tree and the ground from which the tree grows. (I had an anonymous visitor who started me thinking about seeds and trees.)

M. Yes.

There is a formlessness that is the highest "God"; and that out of that void emerged awareness. And once awareness came into Being, that awareness became the first Soul, the elder brother, the Creator of form and of all things... who is very aware that he came out of the formless, that there is a precursor to him, an energy that powers all things. But I know that I am not that Soul; I know that I came from that Soul. That Soul, that Being, is senior to me.

The expression "my Father in heaven" means several things to me. First, it is my Higher Self, the self that I am when I am in dream state, or when I die and go back to the other side; the self that is powering up this body called Mark. But my highest Father in heaven is my spiritual birth Father, my creator. But I could have a higher Father than that if my creator is not the highest of the highest. Follow?

S. Yes, I follow. It sounds kind of like a dualist view.

My question, is what is the highest of the highest? Where did it all begin? These are some of the greatest philosophical questions ever asked.

M. I am not qualified to answer these two questions. Yes, it is a dualist view. It is also a view of being One, that we are all One. Both are true. And, it is in between both. Centered. It's all about the center.

S. I'd like to be Awake and Aware like you. Eternally Aware.

M. I hope you can be better at it than me. :-)

S. I don't think that will ever happen!

M. Be careful what you wish for. :-)

In my opinion you have the ability to realize far more, in this lifetime, than you are giving yourself credit for. Why not give yourself some credit?

Don't you already have an inner 'knowing' or sense of the truth of this?

S. I feel like I have a knowing, but I haven't truly experienced it. Aren't I supposed to feel or see something? I guess I'm expecting to see lights or images when I close my eyes at night. Perhaps it's my expectations getting in the way.

M. Awareness and center lie in the direction of that feeling, that knowing. That's the direction.

Here is some advice I have received about this:
1. Relax
2. Stop thinking so much
3. Don't expect; just let whatever happens, happen

(This advice is very good, and truly works.)

But the thing is (here is my broken record running at full speed)... you have to have a teacher for the deeper experiences. They are the guide that says, "yes, that's the way" or "no, come back over this way", or "why are you getting so upset?" And so on. Are you despairing or hopeful?

S. Thanks for the steps. I am going to try to put them into use. I just have to remember them instead of being lazy and doing what seems to come natural, and unfortunately it's laziness that seems to come natural for me. And by laziness I mean that I might not relax right away, and I might be tempted to keep on thinking and expecting. But if only I can remember these steps I might be headed in the right direction.

Oh, to answer your question: I'm very hopeful.

M. Another recommendation is:

4. Don't put so much pressure on your self.

It's just a matter of repetitions. Just practice and chip away at it.

I don't want to make it sound like if you do these four things, that's the way to go about it. No, they are just mental/emotional attributes. Principles are the key.

S. It's just like with dream recall: Practice and sooner or later it will come natural to you.

Were you ever despairing? I have to tell you that I was despairing before... maybe a few months ago. But all that's changed now. I am hopeful and emotionally I don't think I could be any healthier.

M. Yes, I have been deeply despairing. And it still happens at times. Especially when I look at where I am, compared to what I am out to do; or when I look at what I’ve done. As Sensei says, it is only the hardest, most difficult thing in the world that you are wanting to do. There is nothing harder.

S. I think that despair might cause the hopefulness, which in turn drives us. It's just like what you said about having to be good and bad. It's part of the balance of things.

M. Yes it is. To be successful in overcoming despair, I reach for hopefulness. Hopefulness brings higher values into focus. Once I can see a higher value, I can start to transcend and overcome despair.

S. Like Yin and Yang. I think Hopefulness is like Yang. Despair is the Yin. You can't have one without the other. At first there is despair, then hopefulness. And with hopefulness comes expectations, and when those expectations aren't met, despair introduces itself again. But hopefulness always comes back. It's like a sine wave.

M. Exactly. Perfectly stated.

The spot you are looking for is in between the yin and yang, between hopefulness and despair, between right and wrong. That spot is the center.

S. Ah... I see now. :) So that's what you meant by being "centered". I like it when everything becomes clear. :)

M. It’s a great feeling. So how does the term 'centered' take on a new meaning for you?

S. I'm not going to look too far to the left or too far to the right. I won't despair too much or hope for too much, and the same goes with expectations. I will be more relaxed in my approach. I won't think too much on things but I'll think just enough.

M. Yes, and sometimes I will have to think a lot about things, and there will be times where I will have to go all the way to the left, or all the way to the right. Sometimes I will need a lot of hope or even a ton of despair, but in all that I do I will strive to do what is balanced and centered for the situation and for me. And I will strive to be balanced and centered within my self.

S. That sounds better than what I said. In order to have balance you have to have equal weight on both sides. :)

M. Sometimes. Sometimes I have to lean to one side to catch my balance. Sometimes I have to move way over to the left so a car won't hit me. Everything is relative to the center and being balanced, and everything has a center no matter where you are in the relative sense.

17 comments:

Gretchen Coleman said...

Hey guys - very cool conversation, I am so glad you had it as I felt the same OMG when I read the comments in Mark's original post.

Chris said...

Interesting conversation, thanks for sharing it.

Sophia said...

Gretchen,

He certainly cleared that up for me, didn't he? :)

Sophia said...

Hi Chris,

You're welcome. Mark and I are glad to share. How have you been doing?

Chris said...

Hi Stacey,

I'm doing well, thanks. I took a few days and spent the time recapitulating about my relationship with my father.

Sophia said...

Did you have a good relationship with your father?

You've been in my thoughts. I have not lost either of my parents yet but I know that when their time comes I will be full of grief. I feel love for you and I'm sorry you are going through this right now.

Lin Po said...

Heaven and earth are the wayfarer's inn of the Ten Thousand Things. Fleeting time is the
traveler of a hundred generations. This floating life is like a dream. How long will our
happiness last? The ancients lit lamps and amused themselves at night. Truly there was a
reason for this.
Things does not mean only those things without sentience; it is said that man is a thing.
The space between heaven and earth is the inn for the traveling back and forth of both
men and things. In the end, there is no standing still for either men or things. The
passing of time is like the unending passing of the traveler, and the gradual passing of
spring, summer, fall and winter has not changed for a hundred generations.

Bokkoku said...

Although it does not

mindfuly keep guard,

In the small mountain fields

the scarecrow

does not stand in vain.

Everything is like this.

Jien said...

The flower that would surrender its fragrance

before my brushwood door

Does so regardless.

I, however, sit and stare -

How rueful, this world.

Anonymous said...

Jesus and Buddah aside, are you not perfect?

What we hear or read about Jesus , Buddah or anyone else is just that...what we hear and read.

Is there such thing as an imperfect dog, cat, rat, ant, wind, raccoon, rain or tree? The so called, "imperfections", are they not constantly changing according to biases of the times? What is acceptable today may have been considered down right sinful at one time and in a few years, 'wrong' again. Who is the judge?

Can a quiet mind just observe and be with what is?

When we WANT a rainfall, it's PERFECT and when WE don't, it's IMPERFECT, a problem. Could it be possible that everything is perfect but our judgements are what's 'off'?

Is it maybe our desire for things to be a certain way that causes us to judge things as good or bad, positive or negative?

When a baby is born blind, is that 'wrong' or 'imperfect'? If you had already decided that that baby was suppossed to have sight, you would say it is 'imperfect'. But who should be the judge? What if that baby grew up to be an amazing pianist, is the blindness still an imperfection. Who is to judge?

When we walk in nature amongst trees, lakes, streams, swim in the ocean, are we not accepted completly?

Gretchen Coleman said...

Stacey - yes he did!

I think anonymous has a very interesting perspective. I agree in some respects, that our judgements and weighted tendencies have a lot to do with how we perceive our surroundings.

Sophia said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for your insightful questions.

I suppose it is society which has caused us to think one thing is perfect while another isn't. Take nudity, for example. Our society (here in the States), doesn't accept a naked person freely walking down the street. It is an imperfect thing to do. But let's take a nude tribe in Africa. To them it is entirely natural and perfect to be naked. In fact, they might think we are imperfect for wanting to clothe ourselves.

According to Plato, there is a "World of Ideas", where everything is perfect. A perfect mouse, a perfect cow, etc. I wonder if somewhere up there is a perfect Stacey? :) From that point of view, everything in our reality is imperfect.

Anonymous said...

Who is 'society', who is not accepting the naked body?

And what could possibly be wrong with Stacey? Is there another way to be, really...is that possible?

Maybe every 'stretch' and 'pull' away from one's heart is the only 'mis-step' and only that can be known by having the experience of a step away. So where is the mistake...EVER...if ultimetly, every act pulls one only closer to the truth?

Sophia said...

Hi Anonymous,

We are society. I guess that means that we are not accepting.

This just leads me to more questions. First of all, if we are perfect and we as a society do not accept something, then isn't it perfect to not accept that very thing? Which in turn would mean that very thing is imperfect? Therefore there are imperfect things?

Or perhaps there is nothing to accept, and no one to do the accepting. That sounds more simple than the above.

If every mistake only pulls one closer to the truth, then maybe it's not a mistake after all.

Anonymous said...

Which begs the question...

Are 'we' our minds?

When the mind is gone, can a body continue?

Do bodies start wars or is it minds that start wars?

Sophia said...

Anonymous,

When someone's body dies, you usually remember their personality. Their personality could be a reflection of their soul. Through that memory they, in a way, still exist. In that sense, you could define that person by their mind. So in a sense, I think "we" are our minds.

I also think that when a mind is gone a body can continue. An example of this is the use of life support when someone has gone brain dead.

Minds start wars.

I've tried to carefully think this out, and I've just erased this and retyped it three times trying to get it to sound right. It leads to more questions.

Castor said...

"Can a quiet mind just observe and be with what is?"
Not all the time. Often the mind is not quiet. It's not wrong to have thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. The "quiet mind" and "what is" are just thoughts.
Perfection is just an idea or word. Ideas are not perfect. I believe the Universe is almost perfect.