Checklist Meditation – English version
a user’s manual for the human mind – by Steven Noomen
For best results apply over a longer period of time, several times a day, until it becomes an automatic part of your thinking.
1. State your intention.
Make sure you are focussed on one clear intention or aspiration and be aware of what you are doing. Preferably use your own wordings, for this helps to feel it as indeed your intention. For instance you could say: “I wish to live without suffering, now, to be at peace with what is, regardless what my experience may be.”
Look inside and see if there is now dissatisfaction, not-okayness in any form, even the slightest. Just look, do not have a preference. Only assess and be honest.
Check if there is, for instance:
the ability to love or self-centeredness?
relaxation or tension?
appreciation, gratitude or indifference?
free flowing with the present or resistance, unwillingness?
ease and effortlessness or struggle, efforting?
joy or misery, depression?
peace or conflict?
happiness or suffering?
harmony or chaos?
faith or despair, dejection?
clarity or confusion?
serenity or restlessness?
fulfilment or need?
satisfaction or lack?
The obvious ones like fear, anger and disgust aren’t mentioned as these are pretty hard to overlook. The list is meant to help recognizing chronic subtle feelings that are being overlooked because we have gotten used to them. Add other ones to the list, if you like.
Is there believing going on of the conviction “I am me”?
Again, if so, just let it be. Only check, and thus making yourself aware of it.
4. Surrender to the present.
Then the next step, finding surrender. Is there the total willingness to experience this moment fully and just as it is? Do you really let it all in? Find out by doing the fun and by far most important part, which is testing yourself by stating out loud: “My ultimate fulfilment is experiencing this moment fully and just as it is!” And then be quiet and listen inside to some voice that doesn’t agree, like “No! I want…” Now the ego is forced to show all its hidden self-centred intentions, resistances and demands.
And now do not try to change this resistance, but instead be willing to experience it fully also, for it is already part of this moment anyway. This is crucial! Peace is found through surrender, by making peace with what is, so not by trying to make peace instead of what is.
When the whole mind and all intentions have been revealed, seen and surrendered like this, the mind will come to rest. So do not stop until you feel you indeed agree with the test statement and there is a clear experience of peace and relaxation felt in the body. That is the sign surrender is happening. If physical relaxation isn’t clear, then you are still playing mind games with yourself and you have to repeat the process and get more honest.
The peace that is experienced now, is the perspective of your true Self. Be that. Be present as Pure Consciousness, as the emptiness, the unchangeable Nothing where every experience appears in, and do so by recognizing you have always been it already anyway. Be it, be the real You, and stay present as that, simply by avoiding to identify with anything else.
See how this Beingness enters your human experience in the heart as a “Yes, let it all be”, and feel how this makes you open to be there for whatever it is that shows up, so that you can respond spontaneously in a way that is appropriate in every way and corresponding to this heartfelt openness. This also applies to your own thoughts and feelings.
Now your situation has changed from being a small little centre that sees the present as a potential source for gratifying its personal wants and needs, through being the neutral okayness of the nothingness, into a ‘centre’ that sees the present as an opportunity make contribution from its wealth by allowing it to stream out: soul presence manifesting itself through your body. As a body-person you now experience yourself as an instrument of your Being and its giving intentions, rather than a needy me-person obsessed with its preferences. So now it is your greatest pleasure to cooperate consciously and intentionally with your Being’s whispers in your heart, knowing what is right and good, and doing just that is all that interests you.
Note that being in such openness doesn’t necessarily mean you will respond in a way that adapts to emotions or preferences – yours or anyone else’s –, nor to any beliefs or opinions. It just means you respond to your heart’s resonance, while the heart simply resonates on a deep and impersonal level with what it perceives as true and relevant for the given moment and situation. If possible, this may take into account the impact on emotions and held beliefs, but it will never compromise itself to it.
© Steven Noomen 2010 www.spirituele-integratie.nl
Some time ago I posted a message on an internet forum which inadvertently worked out somewhat provocative: “Self realization, the insight of being the Timeless Infinity, doesn’t mean so very much as long as it hasn’t sunk into the heart.” As a reaction I got pedantic reactions like people asking for whom it would have any meaning.
Still, my basic principle is that spirituality, in whichever form, is always about transforming the subconscious mind so that the act of taking life personally happens less and less, for then we can recognize in the impersonal part of the heart what is true and relevant in this very moment. The personal part of the heart immediately translates this into knowing what is the right thing to do in any given situation. This way we can respond directly and spontaneously from that recognition. The enlightening insight must first sink into the heart so that it can be connected with the present moment, and then it can manifest itself through you in the world – the Truth knows what is needed. However, for this it first needs your cooperation, because you must allow the truth to effect a transformation of your beliefs and principles, so that a response of this heartknowingness gets possible, instead of a reaction from a belief or an emotion.
This means you shouldn’t hold on to strongly to certain beliefs and insights, because these may generally be true, but not necessarily in this very situation of yours, here and now.
Nothing always applies.
This even goes for the insight of being the Timeless Omnipresence. Even that insight must be relevant, or else it is a bromide. Even this insight, if put forward unmindfully, can become a platitude. So, then what is relevant? That is a bit of a trick question, because this cannot be captured in general principles based on experiences of the past. What is truly needed, helpful and relevant is as changing as life itself. That is why contact with the impersonal part of the heart is so important, because there is an immediate knowing of what is relevant in the very moment.
Insights are valuable, but not the panacea for everything. Having seen directly you are essentially the Timeless Infinity is no doubt an important help. It aids with ending a cramped attitude in life that could never have lead anywhere. It brings a perspective from where there is unconditional peace. That is really something! However, it still takes the same question as basic principle: “What’s in it for me?” And don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary. When you discover something with which you can leave behind the habit of suffering, then you definitely may throw a party. But you don’t have to leave it at that. Like I said before, spirituality is about your ability to spontaneously respond from recognizing directly what is true and relevant here and now. For this we need to let the insight sink in the heart by keeping contact with the impersonal part of the heart. For if we are the Infinite, and therefore everything that appears in it as well, then we have obligations to all interests that appear too. The question “What is in it for me?” then automatically becomes “What is needed here?” Or, to put it differently: “What would love-wisdom do through me, right here and now?”
As long as the insight of self-realisation hasn’t yet sunk in the heart, you might feel tempted to behave somewhat overly passionate and believe this insight is always the solution for all and everything. Then you are still a bit in love with the insight itself, because you relieved yourself of a grave burden with it, and so everyone must hear it. However, everyone can only step from where he is standing. This means it must be precisely the very step someone can – and is willing – to take, or else it is not relevant. Not for him. Not now. He is served with hearing something else. The heart immediately recognises what exactly and knows what to do to support him.
Can you see the difference? Projecting your own success story on someone else – no matter how impressive the story – is rarely wise or a true service.
Moreover, there is another danger to making the insight too important, because you could imprison yourself with it in your own mind. The ego can – and will – abuse every insight and reinforce the illusion of itself by regarding it as a confirmation of “I am someone who knows something important!” But that just leads to conceit and even more denial of what is really happening. Spiritual insights are very helpful to free yourself of convictions that have been causing stress and suffering for a long time, but that doesn’t mean you should regard them as untouchable facts: dogmas. They are still just thoughts, dualistic concepts.
For instance, at times I see people who are totally convinced free will doesn’t exist. “Everything happens by itself. There is no-one who choses.” Yes, that is right. But that is not all. There is more to it. Of course it is a great pointer to point out the Dimensionless Infinity of or true being, but the thought itself shouldn’t be proclaimed into a dogma. For if you do, you bind yourself to duality and make it unintentionally into a religion, thus creating your own imprisonment. The conviction “there is no free will” is just the opposite of “there is free will”. So you shouldn’t entrench yourself right away in the opposite idea. Then you are still locked in your head, but on the other side. And why should you? Being the Timeless Infinite doesn’t mean you have nothing to do with your human appearance. That would just be denial. Nothing more dualistic than that. And how on Earth can you call it nonduality if you only flip from one conviction to the opposite?
Surely, dwelling on being the Infinite regularly and over a longer period of time, can be very useful. Of course! If you have believed to be your me-thought, and lived as if this indeed was the case, then it is no doubt a good thing to regularly take a look and see things are actually quite different. However, concluding right away the opposite idea is the Truth, and the old one is wrong, means you hand yourself over to your dualistic thinking again. That would be a pity. Watch out for meanings your thinking attributes to such discoveries, because these are at best relative truths. Our thinking just functions in a dualistic way, so if one thing is true, the opposite is untrue. That is how it reasons. But that is precisely what you must refuse to believe.
This applies to our example as well, because it is definitely true free will doesn’t exist. And it is equally true free will surely does exist. And this isn’t some mysterious mystical-spiritual paradox. Not at all. They are simply perceptions from different perspectives, two facets of the same diamond at opposite sides, so they can be seen by our thinking only one at a time. Sometimes one line of approach is relevant, sometimes the other. That is all. The heart knows instinctively and immediately which one applies, and when and why.
There is an old Indian saying which goes: “Thoughts are like thorns. If there is one sticking in your skin and leaves a splinter, then you take another one to remove the splinter. And then you discard them both.”
Falling in love with the second thorn and cherishing it as your holy treasure, is a big mistake. That narrows your scope. Life is about a whole lot more than collecting small tools. You better watch out, for blinded by your infatuation you might walk right in the thorn-bushes!
Steven, you often tell that spirituality is about a whole lot more than ‘just’ self realisation and finding inner piece, but you never tell so much about the rest. Why is that?
The real backgrounds of our existence, so the complete information about our spiritual situation, which includes the source and functioning of our thought patters, that is all deeply hidden in the subconscious of each of us. In principle it is possible to get that information to the surface, make it conscious, but it is buried under a huge layer of emotional and metal resistance. Things like “if that is true than my whole life was one big mistake” and more hefty implications alike.
This means one can only allow this information – or should I say ‘subconscious memories’? – in small bits and pieces, and one should stimulate such remembrance only with people who know their own real nature and have the skill to handle the associated resistance and fear prudently and from total honesty.
If this works out well, then the remembrances generally surface as an inner recognition and inner knowing of these things, as the feeling you certainly must take it seriously. This feeling must be strong, for only then you will have the choice to go with it instead of with your inner resistance and denial that will be fuelled by everyone around you. If you still choose to take it seriously, then you will see the bits and pieces of information fit nicely together and together they paint a coherent picture.
This picture will be of enorous help in dealing with all sorts of things that show themselves in your life, now or later.
The time you can keep living your life in your own spiritual inner peace is over. For everyone. In your inner as well as your outer world there is now a revolution going on that is more drastic than any change in human history ever.
But again, before someone can be reached with the answer on the question “what revolution?” a whole lot must have happened first. It’s just no use trying to tell this to someone who isn’t really open. Neither when someone isn’t yet in contact with his own inner recognition or able to respond to it.
Live your love
Have you ever been madly in love? And experienced that you were totally filled with love, overflowing with it, so much so that everywhere you went you flooded the whole place and everyone in it with your vast love presence? And that you couldn’t care less if people noticed and responded to it or not? If they didn’t you just loved them even more, if any. Do you know the experience of having that much love?
Now, that abundance of love is your natural state. That is what all great teachers demonstrated and spoke about. They didn’t only speak about, they demonstrated it every move they made, with every word they spoke. They didn’t need to explain because their actions – their intentions – spoke for themselves. Your heart recognizes this, and when it does, it jumps up shouting “Yeah! I want that too!”
Being such an endless ocean of love is noting less than your birthright.
However, this isn’t given for free. You have to work for it. You will have to burn all delusion and self-centeredness in your love of truth. It requires giving each and every moment the total honesty about your resistance to life as it. Each moment. Over and over and over again. And then again. Until all resistance and all its roots are burned in your dedication to love. So, your suffering, your resistance against life, is your greatest gift. It is your invitation to ever bigger love.
Denying there is such resistance, observing your present experience only superficially and declaring “this is it” and “there no such thing as a ‘me’ anyway”, will not get you there. That is nothing more than abusing spiritual insight for denying the truth about your present experience. If your experience isn’t boundless love yet, then there is still investment in resistance against life. Your whole subconscious may be a big dirty pool of nothing but such resistance. So this may take some time.
Allow it to show itself, and work with it.
Do not make love into some philosophical idea, like some deep recognition of being it already, and do not either mistake getting excited about the idea of love for the love itself. Rather, apply the love you have here and now by not denying the present resistance, your engrained habit of trying to control. Acknowledge it. Find the willingness to totally feel it. Be with it.
Live the love that you are.
Mind that even cultivating a feeling of love can be a way to exert control, for it can be a way to stay away from less pleasant details about your present experience. And mind that knowing you are not some I-dentity but the Boundless Infinite can be used for that same reason too. Both just keep you from growing into such vast love.
Don’t do that.
Be honest with yourself.
And keep doing that until you live as this ocean of love.
There is resistance now. (Big or small, subtle or blatant – doesn’t matter.)
And also there is now the Eternal Ineffable Infinite which is the essential you.
So, be a courteous host and introduce them to each other!
Over and over and over again.
And then again.
Steven on ethics – the subtle voice of the heart.
Some time ago I found out that Barry Long had been a great source of inspiration for Eckhard Tolle, and I really liked that, not just because I am quite a fan of both, but especially because Long defined the essence of spiritual practise, so integrating spiritual insight, like this: “The primary spiritual practice is self-denial, giving and honesty practiced over a long period out of an inner perception of rightness and goodness.”
Generally this means letting go of all selfishness, but not always. There may be moments too that genuine love of truth is shown by standing up for one’s own dignity. However, then one’s own interests aren’t pursued out of one personal interests but out of love of truth. Disregarding one’s personal desires, preferences and opinions is the key.
But of course! You can’t keep living your life for all your investments in you “I”-dea, thus implicitly confirming this very I-llusion as real, and then still expect this I-dea to dissolve. Then you will never get any further than self deception and pulling out all the intricate mental stops. No, instead we will have to let this identification starve by refusing to live for our self centred desires and instead decide to live for something entirely different, and not just every now and then for a short time only, but dedicating our whole life to it. Only then we will make space in which our true being can start moulding our life. Each and every situation is much larger and more complex that your personal interest only. So truly and actually living from being identified with all interests in the whole situation is the only way the ego can truly expand, and therefore the only way truth can flow out into the world through our human actions.
There have been teachers, also in the adwaita tradition, who were known for their focus on the many things they liked – often money, sex and influence. I am not going to have an opinion about this, because that will be not helpful. However, I do want to state clearly this means they missed opportunities to use their spiritual insight for letting dissolve their investments in personal desire –call it karma, if you like –, and therefore setting a few steps in the direction of liberation. Also they gave the implicit message it is all just fine to do so. At least, I never heard of any such teacher explaining he demonstrated how to accrue more spiritual bondage, instead of letting it diminish. Still, radical love of truth would have required them to do so this if they knew what they were doing. Probably they didn’t. Maybe this was because they only identified with their untouchable True Nature, which made them believe they had realized total liberation already and therefore it all didn’t matter. This, however, is a very big mistake, and it is exactly what I want to talk about: the difference between possessing the key and believing this is sufficient, or actually using it in the right way.
From the recognition of ourselves as Emptiness a much needed tranquillity and okayness arises. This makes an inner space in which we can start recognising and hearing the more subtle voice of the heart. But, hmm, I have written, erased and rewritten that last sentence four times over, because “heart” is just another word that everyone interprets in his own way. Mind, the voice of the heart is not something everyone knows. It is just like with our true nature: on one hand it is impossible to be totally ignorant of it, but on the other countless people manage to overlook it during all their life and take something else for it. Opinions and ideas, emotions and desires, they all are all too often regarded as the heart, or mixed with it, and that is just as big a mistake as regarding the ego as your true self.
However, there definitely is a deep and sensitive spot in the heart where is recognised what in any given situation is both true and relevant, so what is the right thing to do. One has to learn recognising this subtle voice, discerning it from ones thinking and emotions that are bound to this permanently running system which is continuously scanning the moment and bringing up strategies, all based on the question: “What is in it for me? What can I get?” The heart isn’t interested in that question. It recognises that is truly important in the whole of any situation, and for whom or what, and what is the best way to make it happen.
Learning to see and feel this, and being honest with it in the very living moment, letting your actions being rooted in only this, each and every moment anew, that is the big secret of using the key of self realization rightly.
In each of us there is a subtle voice that urges us to act in a way that supports the liberation of ourselves and others. That voice is right here and right now already part of your very experience. Are you ignoring it, or not? Are you truly open to experience this whole moment fully and let it all-in, and so do you recognise this voice? Do you hear what it is telling you? And are you responding?
Or are you just looking superficially and telling yourself fashionably “Okay, so this is IT!”
Ethics is very simple. Every thinking being in the universe knows the difference between right and wrong. It is simply a matter of not letting yourself be distracted by your own self centred thoughts and emotions. Not even adwaita-insights.
“Who am I?”
“Who am I?”is the question used as the fundamental tool in non-duality. However, we must understand very well we should not answer the question, but rather learn to use it very differently.
Once you answer a question, it dies. But we can only work with a living question.
Answers seem to provide power, en especially when they also may claim things like “Enlightenment” they appear very powerful. However, in the end answers only give us limitations, the limitations of the convictions that we harbour. So, rather use the question to focus onyou True Being and being present as such, which causes a letting go of convictions and intention. So don’t use it to feed the illusionary sense of control of “I am someone who knows how things are”.