You know how sometimes things seem to happen for a reason? I’d like to share with you some things that have been going on in my life lately…
I started attending a weekly Vipassana meditation group about 15 years ago, fueled by my then young son’s interest in Buddhism. His interest waned but I kept at it, and then began my yoga teacher training, which included the study of yoga philosophy and meditation. Fast forward to last spring, when my husband and I closed our eyes, took a deep breath and jumped…we sold our house, got rid of a lot of our belongings and put the rest (still a lot!) in storage, and rented a temporary furnished apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The building, which is a small brownstone townhouse, is owned by the Parmenides Foundation for Meditation and Philosophy. Considering my involvement in yoga philosophy, I was very interested to find out what the Foundation is all about. As it turns out, the Foundation follows the teachings of Raphael, a great teacher who currently lives in silence in Italy and has taught and translated the works of some of the great Greek philosophers – Plato, Parmenides, and Plotinus – and also the great Vedic works – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra-s and the Upanishads, among others. His writings pull together the common threads in all of these philosophies. The coincidence of my living just upstairs from a meditation center that follows the Eight Limbs of yoga and seeks to find the ties between spiritual traditions was not lost on me! I have been regularly attending weekly discussion meetings here and also joining their twice daily open meditation sessions whenever I can. When I sit, I am infused with a sense of calm and well-being that stays with me and allows me to interact with others with equanimity – at least for a little while.
I wanted to share a bit of Raphael’s wisdom about meditation:
“…[our mind is like a] movie reel…which brings us continually in the world of becoming…there is a hiatus, a gap between one perception and the next, just as there is one between one frame of a film and the next or, as science itself has discovered, between one photon of light and the next. That the universe was a continuum-discontinuum has been known to Vedanta metaphysics for a long time.
“… meditation leads to a slowing down of the imagining-thinking sequence until one enters in that non-manifest continuum which is true Reality and not subject to change. We must discover what this Reality-Void, this divine Silence, this non-objectivating, non-projecting possibility is. Any kind of intellectual speculation would be vain, because thought would simply create other illusory images, other conceptualisations…”
So I’ve been seeking that true Reality. I find it for a few seconds, and then it disappears. But then I sit again, and I find it for a few seconds more. And it’s interesting to me that this requires NON-thinking. I have only to sit and observe. Well, that’s a big only – the mind doesn’t like to not think. But with practice and perseverence, perhaps it will come!
Can you imagine what the world would be like if people could find their true Reality? My hope is that all of you can take a few moments, even in this busy holiday season (or should I say especially in this holiday season!) to focus within, notice, observe, and feel the calm and ease, compassion and equanimity, that can arrive when we find that “divine Silence.”