Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Martin LeFevre: Unmediated Perception

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

Unmediated Perception

One of my sitting places is under a great sycamore on the banks of a small stream in the middle of expansive fields, with a view of the canyon and hills beyond town.

With undirected watchfulness, the known (memory and symbolic activity) falls away after half hour or so, and meditation spontaneously begins. The other evening, a little after sunset, I stood up in an intense meditative state to behold an indescribably beautiful violet color rimming the line the Coastal Range, which lies west of here.

A counter-sunset suffused the clouds over the fields behind me, to the east. The pungent-sweet smell of earth and grass was strong, heightened by an uncharacteristic rainstorm the previous evening. You could see for many miles, and for those timeless few minutes, I was completely one with the entire area. In the blessed solitude, it felt like bathing in bottomless beauty and palpable silence.

The multi-sensorial beauty of the entire scene was so intense in that state that I was, to use an old Christian expression, agape. As has happened a number of times before during meditation at this spot, a species of swallow suddenly appeared.

The birds mirrored the joy I was feeling, flying close and hovering overhead, literally encircling me. Of course many people, for whom such an event has perhaps never happened, would have a half dozen explanations that would serve to explain it away. But at the time there could be no doubt.

Can the meditative state be the ‘normal’ state for the human being? Clearly it would require a transmutation in the human brain. Is that possible at this time?

Long before the Agricultural Revolution, and uncounted ages before the Technological Revolution, a Cognitive Revolution occurred that gave humans the capacity for culture, art, and technology, as we know it. But after 100,000 years, ‘modern humans’ have reached the end of the line.

Just what would a transmutation in the human brain mean? Perhaps at the deepest level, it would mean that perception would not be mediated through symbols. Thus, an unconditioned mind/brain would remain fresh and young, having the capacity to see with the eyes of a child until physical death.

Of course there is something a little ludicrous about using words to talk about a wordless state. As Wittgenstein said, “what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” However, if we use words to point rather than to capture, perhaps intimations of wordless things can be conveyed, and inner explorations nurtured. (That may be a fairly good definition of poetry.)

As much as I respond to poetry however, we live in an age of science. Therefore, without dissecting heightened states of awareness (and thereby destroying them), meditation needs to be understood and communicated in scientific language.

The momentum of the content of thought usually overshadows the human brain’s capacity for awareness. In simple terms, the past continually eclipses the present. Meditation is initiated by passively watching everything outside and inside without interference. Will and effort are not involved. Attention grows and spontaneously ignites, and at that moment awareness overtakes thought.

Nature is the best mirror for meditation. If one simply sits quietly and observes without a goal, one notices that the instant after a thought or emotion arises there is a reaction of evaluation and judgment. Reaction is the essence of the self. But the self is also thought, and is actually inseparable from the rest of the content of the mind.

So the self is a mechanism that gives the illusion of separateness and control. Meditation breaks the recursive loop of thought and the self. However since the mechanism of separation is wired into the brain, one has to keep relearning the lesson until the vicious circle is broken once and for all. Presumably that’s what’s meant by illumination.

************

- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: martinlefevre@sbcglobal.net. The author welcomes comments.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Be Anxious About Artificial Intelligence

Frankly, the prospect of possibly losing half the existing forms of paid employment to AI does make me feel extremely anxious, given the indifference shown by central government to the downstream social damage caused by the reform process last time around... More>>

ALSO:


Binoy Kampmark: Tom Wolfe The Parajournalist

As New Journalism’s primary advocate, Tom Wolfe headed the field with such experimental forces as Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Hunter S. Thompson, all dedicated to enriching supposedly factual accounts with excessive flourishes that hurried out the beige in favour of the kaleidoscopic. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Racism And The Windsors

For all the talk about the modernizing effect that Meghan Markle could have on the Royal Family, the suspicion all along has been that the House of Windsor is resistant to change at any level beyond the purely decorative. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Prospects Of US Talks With North Korea

On June 12, the leaders of North Korea and the United States will meet across a table in Singapore, and Kim Jong Un must already be feeling giddy at the thought that this meeting is already being described with the word “summit” formerly reserved for meetings between superpowers of equal stature... Image: Steve Bolton NZ's contribution to the IAEA’s work on North Korea

  • United Nations - UN chief ‘optimistic’ over peace efforts
  • David Swanson - Enough is Enough. The Time Has Come to BDS the US - Peace Comes to Korea: Let’s Understand Why
  • CTBTO - CTBTO on North Korea
  • NZ Govt - NZ welcomes talks between North and South Korea
  • Massey University - Nukes to cyber war – NZ security in focus
  • Jim Miles - The Doomsday Machine - Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner
  • UNHCHR - North Korea detente: UN expert urges human rights opening
  • Binoy Kampmark - Trump, North Korea and Post-Olympic Angst
  • Gordon Campbell: On National’s Latest Attempts At Relevance

    Having ignored the existence of massive problems in health and education for nine years in government, it is no longer politically viable for National to maintain the pretence that such problems really don’t exist, or are somehow unworthy of serious concern by rational men of commerce.... More>>