Martin LeFevre: Awakening to the Sacred
Awakening to the Sacred
The human brain is the only brain on this planet that has the capacity to be consciously aware of the sacred. Not the self-projected sacredness of churches and texts, but something totally beyond thought. The fact is, however, we are heading in the opposite direction.
Of course the sacred cannot be conveyed, because it is utterly beyond word and symbol. Only when the mind and heart are completely quiet and open can it be perceived and felt. That is why true meditation is so important, because undivided observation quiets the mind and opens the heart to the actuality to which the word ‘sacredness’ refers.
The sacred does not belong to a supernatural realm. It is immanent in the universe, inherent in the energy and structure of everything. At the same time, it originates from beyond the universe, which after all had a birth and will have a death.
I’m neither positing deism nor pantheism. There is no separate God or gods. Nor am I concerned where the sacred comes from. It just is. All I’m saying is that there is an infinite sacredness beyond thought, and that with the complete quiescence of thought, it can be felt.
That raises many interesting questions. Contrary to the idea that evolution is directionless and purposeless, there appears to be a direction beyond the randomness and creative chaos of it all. (After all, increasing complexity is a direction.) Further, I feel the human brain embodies, on this planet at least, an intent, intrinsic to evolution, to evolve brains capable of awareness of Mind.
If that’s true, then how do we account for the implacable contradiction that is ‘the mind of Man?’ On one hand, the evolution of ‘higher thought’ is a necessary precondition for sufficient mental and emotional capacity to consciously perceive the sacred. On the other hand, the activity of thought is the greatest impediment to directly perceiving the sacred!
Clearly, symbolic thought is a necessary step for life to become aware of itself and the immanent sacredness of the universe. And yet thought, as a mechanism based on separation, inevitably causes alienation from nature and ‘God,’ and cancerously fragments a planet, without sufficient insight into its nature. Thus the absolute requirement of self-knowing.
Three boys, jammed together on a small rubber raft, came floating down the creek. They were all Mexican, and as they passed, one said, with a thick Spanish accent, “five more coming.”
Sure enough, a procession of inner tubes, air mattresses, and bodies, totaling some 10 boys (all but one Hispanic), floated downstream. The last two boys had no flotation gear, just letting the current carry them. Farcically, their rubber sandals preceded them in the water, with the last boy yelling to the second-to-last to catch his footgear.
Meditation deepened effortlessly and timelessly, and after nearly an hour, a palpable feeling of the sacred came over me. Intense questions and insights into the human mind arose, flowed together, and attained a new level of understanding in the meditative state.
Just then two woodland hawks suddenly and loudly made their presence felt, calling to each other from high above on both sides of the creek. One of the Cooper’s hawks landed directly overhead. They continued to screech louder than I’ve ever heard them before.
Their calls, piercing to my very core, continued for some minutes, marking the end of the sitting. The appearance of the hawks felt significant somehow, but I didn’t know why at the time. In retrospect I see that it was not a confirmation, but a warning.
Is life itself sacred, or is the sacred awakened in the mind and heart of the self-knowing human being? To kill unnecessarily is wrong, but that doesn’t mean, as some Buddhists believe, that every worm has great value.
It’s often said that “life is cheap,” and certainly humans treat it that way, as the carnage of war, needless starvation, and the slaughter of animals attest. And yet, life itself, in its extravagance and extinctions, is prolific, if not cheap.
So is that a contradiction — the inexhaustibility of life and the rareness of the sacred? Perhaps life, while a precious gift, is fairly common in the universe, whereas the sacred, though always present, is only awakened in the silent mind of sentient beings.
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.