Blog entry

Poor Man's Constant Consciousness

Song Of The Day: Digging In The Dirt / Peter Gabriel
Word Of The Day: Grotty / Unpleasant, dirty, nasty, ugly, generally displeasing or disagreeable.

That's so weird. We used to say "Grotty" (pronounced GROH-dee) when I was a kid, and I've totally forgotten about it, until today when I was randomly flipping through the pages of one of the volumes of my Oxford English Dictionary and saw it, hiding in the open right next to "grouch". Will grotty make a comeback? I don't know. I'll forever associate it with perjorative taunts fired back and forth while we rode arond town on BMX bicycles "nice grotty wheels, jas!" "oh, right, like YOUR life isn't grotty...". Oh days of repartee, the clever folly.

I've been writing a lot of songs lately. I seem to have as much control over the songwriting muse as I do over the weather. I go through periods where I wait for inspiriation to show up, invite it, conjure it with meditation, exercise, laughing practices, try listening to great artists. Nothing. Then one day the muse shows up and she's completely wired on blow and X, and she won't SHUT UP. For the first three days I run around like a mad stenographer, trying to keep up with her vesuvian gush of ideas. The problem is it's not one song, or two songs, it shows up all at once, like two completely finished songs, and three partially formed, and all five of them are competing to be midwifed first, and they throw tantrums, like "if you don't fucking sit down and complete me RIGHT now, i will evaporate on you in an instant, and you will NEVER hear from me again, cuz you didn't give a shit" and you're like "hold the FUCK on for a second, I'm presently occupied trying to write down your sister over here, and I love you all equally, and I WILL get to you, but I need an hour or two to hear these others first" and the song is like "BYE! good BYE! i hope you're happy, you KILLED ME!!! MWAH MWAH MWAH" and I'm like "shiihhhhhhht" and I think I've lost it, and then at 3am that song comes back, standing in the bedroom doorway of my mind, holding a teddy bear and going "I can't sleep" and then it crawles up on the bed and goes "BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH" and repeats itself till you finally wake up and get out of bed, get a pen, and write down the whole song, which of course you would have remembered anyway in the morning, but the creative process is fear-based, compulsive, ultimatum-driven process, it's always telling you "if you don't SOMETHING right NOW then this song will disappear FOREVER" which has never, once EVER in my life been true. I always remember everything, I never forget stuff, but it doesn't matter, when you love music, and you love writing, you believe that voice every time, and if you were to lose something, you just couldn't forgive yourself. So all last week I walked around with this disembodied Siren reciting new songs into my head, literally day and night. It was quite awesome, and I knew it was a good sign when I got into the Poor Man's Constant Consciousness. Are you wondering What's

Poor Man's Constant Consciousness?

In meditation practice, there are (for the sake of convenience here) basically three stages or depths of practice in witnessing awareness. First, one is capable of witnessing the contents (thoughts, sensations, emotions, etc) of waking awareness. In sitting meditation or throughout the day, the witness observes the passing of states and their contents, but doesn't grasp them, or avoid them, just watches. Then, stage two, the practitioner can do this not only during waking awareness, but also while dreaming. It's not exactly the same thing as lucid dreaming, but they are related in some ways. During waking and dreaming states, the subjects Witness abides. Stage three, the Witness is maintained during waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep. This is also known as constant consciousness, or Sahaj (I think), and it means 24 / 7, there is constant consciousness, observing the passing of all states and their contents. No, sorry, this isn't enlightenment, but it's a good sign in your meditation practice. Very few people have this stabilization as an enduring (weeks, months, or years) trait. I have had a few times in my life when I've had it, but only for a few days at a time in intermitten spots, usually when I was sitting meditation 4-6 hours a day and combining it with lots of solitude and focus. Even then, except once or twice, mine only went through waking and dreaming, not deep dreamless sleep. That means when I die my soul will black out when it hits the Causal realm, in case you're wondering.

There actually IS a reason to practice, cuz when you croak, the filters which previously so kindly and gently compartmentalized (isn't THAT the perfect word here, compart-MENTALIZED) the contents of your interiors -emotions, psyche, soul- those filters are yanked out, and the summation of your individual interiors, and here's the real bad news, also the collective's interiors (culture, socio-intersubjective domains) all that shit comes flying at you at a super-luminal speed, and at that point whatever your shadow was (the unconscious or suppressed aspects you shoved into the basement or hid in "others"), it comes back 10 times as strong and kicks your disembodied ass until your soul literally passes out, at which point you are kindly re-directed by the sublte circulatory system of the Kosmos into another unconscious birth as a corporeal being of some sort, maybe on Earth, maybe elsewhere, but you are going BACK. This process continues until you finally fucking WAKE UP, and WAKE UP permanently, not as a glimpse, a state change, or one of the infinite EUREKA realizations that millions and billions have and have had throughout history.

Constant Consciousness does not mean you are "Enlightened", there is still a duality in Constant Consciousness, the subject is still witnessing the rising and falling of phenominal objects (subject / object), but it's a really important tool for being able to do good work in the Mystery for many reasons. Not the least of these reasons is that a practitioner cannot acheive a conscious re-birth until there is constant consciousness. We have to be able to maintain stable awareness through all states, forms, and phenominal experience before we can successfully navigate the Kosmos by CHOICE. Until then, we are not choosing, we are not navigating, we are being helplessly taken by the flow of an amalgam of forces and influences we can't even begin to imagine. That's why imagination is also crucial. But in the short term, we first access constant consciousness through waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep. At that point, we are more effective in beginning to be useful to the Mystery, and we also have a much much better shot at acheiving conscious re-birth. Any true bodhisattva, any authentic shaman, will have this capacity. There are very, very few people with this stabilized, enduring capacity, but it truly, really is the God-given inheritence of all humans, of all self-reflexive beings.

The point of course is not that "I" want to permanently wake up so "I" can save myself from Maya, Samsara, and the dense brutality of delusion in the realms of form. The point -and we practitioners really, really have a fucking problem remembering this and living it- is that the spontaneous, native impulse of LOVE (the compass of all practice) is to awaken because it is our natural condition, it is the real us, but even that is only a fraction of the REAL "us". Once we tumble over the edge of "I", the fully unfolded, naturally expressed impulse of LOVE is to awaken for all people, all sentient beings, everywhere, and to continue working until they are all free. This is so simply, plainly evident when we are alive in Love that even to think of "me" working to help "you" or "us" striving to aid "them" is ridiculous, and it's not a matter of theory or intellectual tricks. Our direct experience, our immediate knowing when we are awake in Love is that we are TWINS, we truly, undeniably the TWIN children of God, of the Absolute, of Love, and to turn away from that is to cut out parts of our own body. And thank God. Thank God that we can see that although our dramas will continue, they are OVER. The drama of life, struggle, suffering, learning will go on and on, but it is also OVER forever. Because the part of us that has never slept, has never changed, wasn't born, and doesn't die, that part has been remembered. You can forget it again, but it doesn't forget. The difference between unconscious practice on the path and conscious practice on the path is the transparency of the drama. Awake in love the drama is transparent. Asleep in love, the drama is opaque.

Acquiring constant consciousness frees a practioner up a bit to be more effective as an agent in the Mystery, as a secret operant of Love in the drama, through conscious rebirth and simple abiding Presence while incarnated in any lifetime. It does not mean the drama no longer continues. The Kosmos has been and will be unfolding for a long, long time. But the agent of Love is not trapped in time. The Kosmos is the body of Love. We are the discreet expressions -sentient beings, reflexive beings, and all beings- and part of that body. With constant consciousness we can stop mistaking the impermanent phenomena for identities. Do you want to be a spy for love? Then you have no identity. And you have all identities. It's really cool.

Anyway, the whole reason I brought up constant consciousness is that the creative process for me sometimes includes what I call Poor Man's Constant Consciousness, which is where I continue writing songs through waking and dreaming (oops, still not through deep dreamless sleep, there is nothing in deep dreamless sleep that's like a creative process) states. Last week, my creativity was rolling through waking and dreaming states, and it was a kind of witnessing, but not quite the meditation variety, more like a poor man's constant consciousness, cuz I was cheating by active engagement (not a true witnessing), and it only went through two, not all three states. But it reminded me to get back on this practice of being a better practitioner, to get back on this work of being as useful as possible for love, and I really need to get square on deep dreamless sleep so when I die I don't just pass out like a shit head.

For an amazing study in all this, buy one of E.J. Gold's amazing books, including Life In The Labyrinth, and American Book Of The Dead. Really useful material for any practitioner.

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