Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Becoming Spirit: Insights (Part 5 of 5)

This post is the final in a five-part transpersonal theory series on "Becoming Spirit" via spiritual unfolding and Vipassana meditation practice, originally presented in 2004 at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. ~ ER

Conclusion: Review and Insights

To review: the first two stages of spiritual
unfolding – belief and faith – are certainly the most common stages of people on a spiritual journey. Next we have stage three, with rare peak experiences, and a tiny sliver of the population of those on a path who actually maintain plateau experiences through diligent practice. The fourth stage, that of permanent adaptation, or becoming spirit, seems reserved for those few who carry their practice into their daily lives in the most transpersonal, all-pervasive manner. As Sri Lankan Theravadan monk, the Venerable Henepola Gunaratana says, “The most important moment in meditation is the instant you leave the cushion.”

In Becoming Spirit, we must equip ourselves with the tools (such as Vipassana or other consistent, effective, transformative meditation practice) to move beyond the glitzy spiritual beliefs, the personas, the fabulous peak experiences that we can tell all our friends about at the next cocktail party or Tantra workshop. We must be willing to endure – even when the practice is dry or dull, frustrating or inconvenient. I must remember that I have started that journey of a thousand miles, and that “the purpose is nothing less than radical and permanent transformation” (Guaranata, p. 171).

I can still hear the words of my Vipassana meditation teacher ringing in my ears, words that penetrated my psyche to the core as I sat in ten-day silent retreat, and as the knee pain only known to those sitting for ten days straight burned through my being: “Patiently and persistently, just observe, just observe. Be very aware, very vigilant.” These are simple, potent, transformative words – encouraging me to keep going when my faith wavers, to remind me that I am passing through this impermanent experience, trudging the road of permanent adaptation of this equanimity, of this liberation – of becoming spirit.

Clay figure, Hyderabad, India

Works cited in this series of posts:

Dhammadaro, A. L. (1998). Inner strength: sixteen talks Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Valley Center, CA: Metta Forest Monastary.

Smith, H. (1991). The world’s religions: completely revised and updated edition of The religions of man. San Francisco: Harper.

Tendzin, O. (1982). Buddha in the palm of your hand. Boulder, CO: Shambala Publications, Inc.

Trungpa, C. (1973). Cutting through spiritual materialism. Berkeley, CA: Shambala.

Wilber, K. (1997). A spirituality that transforms. What is Enlightenment magazine, 12.

Wilber, K. (1999). One taste: the personal journals of Ken Wilber. Boston, MA. Shambala.

This paper dedicated with metta to S.N. Goenka, Vipassana insight meditation teacher.

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