Today the participants of the 100 Day Warrior had their first yoga class and their first meditation class. The idea behind meditation is to create a new and deeper relationship with consciousness. When we turn the light inwards we might find a completely new reality. This reality can dawn upon us gradually or it can be revealed to us in spectacularly sudden and profound way. When the student is new to meditation there is a reasonable chance that he has a powerful or at least impressive experience for the sole reason he starts looking in places where he has never looked before. When you start exploring parts of yourself where you have never been before you shouldn’t be too surprised to find new things. Sounds pretty plausible but in reality it can be quite breathtaking.
I just read something both amusing and touching that sheds a different light on such experiences. Zen master Shunyu Suzuki roshi describes a moment where he comes back to his monastery Eiheiji, a place that felt very mundane to him when he was living his daily routine.
“But once I had left Eiheiji and been away for some time, coming back was different. I heard the various sounds of practice-the bells and the monks reciting the sutra-and I had a deep feeling. There were tears flowing out of my eyes, nose, and mouth! It is the people who are outside of the monastery who feel its atmosphere. Those who are practicing actually do not feel anything. I think this is true for everything. When we hear the sound of the pine trees on a windy day, perhaps the wind is just blowing, and the pine tree is just standing in the wind. That is all that they are doing. But the people who listen to the wind in the tree will write a poem, or will feel something unusual. That is, I think, the way everything is.”
Excerpt from “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.” by Shunryu Suzuki
What is so beautiful is that he uses the image of the tree that is just standing there. You can have an experience where you feel a strong connection with nature. It can be very touching and emotional. Some of us have easier access to these frequencies. For me it is rare but I definitely had my share of beautiful and strong experiences. But the point is: the tree was already there. It was just standing there, without any intention to stir up profound emotions. It was already there and if it was up to the tree you were welcome to see it before. The tree has no preferences. It is not defined by your recognition of its existence. If you spend your life without ever seeing the tree it doesn’t mean the tree never existed. It only means you are unaware of its existence.
The first time I saw the view from Dead Horse Point my breath was taken away. As a guy from a very flat and agricultural country I had simply no references and wasn’t in any way prepared for what my eyes tried to take in. To me it was completely new. But it had been there for 6 million years! Which is a conservative estimate by the way, but that is a different discussion. Being confronted with such profoundness makes me redefine my reality.
When we start meditating we might find new views. We might see or experience things we have never seen before. But it was always there and it will always be there. And in a way, it doesn’t matter if I have an experience of a previously undisclosed inner world or not. The experience can cause you to redefine yourself and – ultimately – make you realize that there is no ‘I’. This might sound far-fetched and incomprehensible even. But it is already there. Like the tree.
This is episode 8 in a series of 100 blog posts that will be published daily during the 100 Day Warrior. All posts are written by Atalwin Pilon, founder of Basic Goodness and creator of the 100 Day Warrior, a unique program around physical strength, inner wisdom and meaning. For requests for motivational speaking, in-company workshops, online coaching and mindfulness training click here. If you would like to join our international community of brave and inspiring human beings or just follow this blog and receive updates, please click here of sign up on the right side of the page. Atalwin specializes in coaching smart and creative people, both groups and individuals. If you are interested in a free coaching session click here.