The question then arises: how does one remain calm, tranquil and centered in the midst of such angst?
Most spiritual teachers will prescribe some form of meditation, affirmations, breathing exercises, mantras, yoga routines, scriptural study/memorization, prayer, or some other tactic for removing us from destructive reactivity, thereby placing us into a spiritually-centered state.
While these are all worthwhile pursuits, a further question arises from their practice: why do we repeatedly find ourselves in need of these tactics, when it is permanent transformation that we most fervently desire?
Most spiritual teachers, when asked this further question, will encourage us to stick with our practice, trusting that it will eventually bear fruit, even it if takes multiple lifetimes to “get there.”
Well, at a certain point we need some encouragement in the form of attainment — which is to say, we need our practice to bear fruit, and we need that fruit to be undeniable, so that our teachers won’t be able to shunt them aside when we try to talk about them. The last thing we need is for someone to tell us to ignore the signs of absorption, to avoid becoming attached to them, etc. As well-meaning as this advice may seem, it is a sure sign that the advice-giver is more interested in perpetuating dogma and doctrine than actually living the original inspiration.
In short, we need to give rise to the ecstatic… which is innate within each of us, though usually conditioned away from conscious awareness. It WILL arise, however, in response to an earnest, rigorous and skillful contemplative practice.
Then, when the ecstatic has become stabilized in our practice (i.e., it arises every time we sit in meditation), we need to return to it as often as possible, following it as deeply as possible, until such a time as we are saturated in it every moment of our life.
Wandering about within the One Mind, saturated in bliss, joy and ecstasy, we have at our disposal the deep tranquility and equanimity spoken of by the Buddha and other mystics.
Even in the midst of life’s most trying circumstances, we are able to hit the “off switch” on our mind for at least a moment — and within this glimpse of silence we are greeted by the ecstatic, which is our true nature, our constant connection with That — and we are reminded that the circumstances around us are temporary, fleeting and meaningless.
Finally, from this place of jhana saturation, we are able to focus on bringing bliss, joy and ecstasy to others, thereby doing our small part, one person at a time, to establish humanity in its innate capacity for sharing love and happiness, rather than fear and dissatisfaction. In helping others to attain self-arising bliss, joy and ecstasy, we collectively find that the experiences related by mystics down through the ages are available to us now, without need for validation by this tradition or that guru. We are able to bypass the official filters and go straight for the Source.
Some would say that this is the purpose of religion in its original form.
Some would say that this is the purpose of life.