I was meditating the other day and thinking about the four noble truths of Buddhism: 1) Life is suffering. 2) We suffer because we’re attached. 3) The cessation of suffering is attainable. 4) The way out of the suffering, the path, includes practice. I went over this in my heart, in my mind, in my experience, and came out with a new version.
- Life is suffering—first noble truth.
- Second, we suffer because we don’t like the way things are. We don’t like whatever is going on; we don’t like the violence; we don’t like the pain in our body; we don’t like the boring TV shows; we don’t like materialism; we don’t like cutting down the rainforest… Whatever it is! We’re not happy with it, so it causes us suffering.
- Third, there is a way to walk, a way to be.
We are learning that there is a way to walk. Not to overcome suffering, but to embrace suffering. I think the whole idea of overcoming suffering has gotten us into a lot of trouble. Overcoming is like when there’s something yucky in the road, so we jump over it in order not to have to deal with it. I think the way to deal with suffering and pain is to go through it, to embrace it, to realize that it is a teacher, a gift, and that it is the path to God. It is the path to waking up, to our deepest selves, to our enlightenment, to spiritual maturity. It is also the way to overcome our anxiety, our stress, and our PTSD.
This way of walking leads not to destruction, and to being crushed into dust; it actually leads to breakthroughs, transformational growth, and a deepening of wisdom and compassion. If spiritual practice is for anything, it should be to increase our wisdom and our compassion. What else would it be there for?
So, there is a way to walk, and here are the guidelines that I got in my meditation, on how to do this following an Integral or integrated practice that covers all of the essential bases that we need to work on in order to become the best versions of ourselves, and in order to wake up and help enlighten the world that we live in, in service of all beings, past, present, and future.
Meditate like a rock.
I really like that. I’ve never heard it before. Before this came to me, my metaphor for meditating was to meditate like the sky—be the open space that everything arises in. This I’ve always found to be very true, and as I sit here, looking out, there are clouds, there are bugs, there are airplanes… This is all the type of stuff that emerges in meditation.
Meditate like a rock. When you think about a rock in the wilderness, it’s just there. It’s probably halfway embedded in the earth. The rains come, the sun shines, the snow falls; there is freezing cold, harsh heat, and bird poop. All this stuff happens, and the rock is just there. As a rock, our meditation is at its deepest level. We’re anchored in the Self—the self with the big “S” that the Hindus call atman. We’re anchored in the soul, beyond the soul, into the ground of being. We’re just there. Anything can come along, and we stay solid. We can take on all the storms, all the weather, all the different states we find ourselves in; we can take on compassion and awareness, kindness and curiosity, with a rock-like presence in our meditation.
Exercise like a warrior.
Have you ever seen a warrior work out? I was in the gym this morning, and there was a young man with short hair. He had a U.S. Marines t-shirt on. He was really going for it. He was working out like his body was important in order to fulfill his duty, to protect his people, and to do the things that a warrior is supposed to do. (A noble warrior’s work is to protect those who can’t protect themselves.) To work out like that, one trains with great intention. It’s a sacred calling or vocation; and it’s not just about being a superb athlete making money or having a body like a Greek god or goddess. It is about intention and dedication.
Study life like a scholar of wisdom.
Scholars, or students, of wisdom listen deeply to people. They ask penetrating, compassionate questions to deepen the process. They listen to great teachers. They listen to the poor and the humble of the earth. They listen to the trees, the animals, and the wind.
Love the world as if it were your own being, your own heart.
Love and embrace the world, the whole darn thing, as if it were your own being,because it really is. That’s what the great mystics say, and that’s what us little mystics say as we continue our practice and begin to experience what the heck the meaning of nonduality really is.
So, whether you’re in a beautiful wilderness area or you’re in a parking lot looking at a strip mall, with cigarette butts on the ground and traffic noise all around, it’s still you. It’s still us. There’s only one “I” here, ultimately, really, essentially. So, love the world as if it were your own being. Love everyone.
Find your vocation and heed the call.
This brings it back a bit from the big picture to the individual, because we’re both. In quantum physics, the tiny entities that everything is made up of sometimes look like a particle and sometimes look like a wave. That’s the way we are. We are individuals: magnificent snowflakes, uniquely neurotic, uniquely intelligent, uniquely wonderful, and uniquely horrible. Then again, we are also part of the one field of being that arises in all its beauty, complexity, and strangeness.
To fill our part in the great symphony of our time, the symphony of evolution that’s going on right now in our little corner of the universe, we’ve got to find our vocation. We need to find out what our profession is, what we’re supposed to be doing. We can take tests and discover, “Well, I’m good at mathematics; I’ll be a bookkeeper.” That’s good to know, and maybe that is your vocation.
But finding our vocation means more than just trying to figure out what we’re talented at and maybe able to make a living at. It means finding the real, deep, soulful call of what we’re supposed to be doing in the world. What is the toothpaste in your tube that you want to completely and effectively empty out onto the great collective stage of life, before your toothpaste tube transforms into something else?
When we find our vocation, or find our call, then a lot of things will line up, like purpose, meaning, and meaningful practice. Also, if that is our vocation, what’s getting in the way? And what will enhance this vocational call? When we discover that, we really get in the zone. We have the subjective experience of being in a flow state, and we feel like we’re an instrument being played or a tool being used by a greater force, something beyond our ego self. It’s one of the most remarkable, most enjoyable, and fulfilling experiences of being a human.
Vocation comes, of course, from vocal. It means a calling out. When Jesus was in the Sea of Galilee, he said to his first disciples, “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men. Drop what you’re doing and come do this thing.” Jesus represented the soul or the higher self, calling us out of our day-to-day getting along to a more centered, more purposeful, more compassionate, wiser, and skillful way of being. That’s what a vocation should be. And if you’re called, then you really have to work on it with the same dedication we talked about earlier—the dedication of a warrior.
So, that was my meditation, a riff on the four noble truths of Buddhism, and a way out of suffering that has emerged from what I’ve learned thus far in my journey.
Adapted from iAwake Technologies’ free, weekly teleconference call on June 19, 2013.
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John Dupuy is the CEO of iAwake Technologies and the founder of Integral Recovery, a holistic addiction treatment approach inspired by Ken Wilber’s Integral Model. He is also the author of Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to Alcoholism and Addiction, recently published by SUNY Press. As a pioneer in the use of brainwave entrainment in therapy and personal development, John has dedicated his life to helping others deepen their spiritual practice and transform their lives.