How to Find Inner Peace
I read several blog posts about your philosophy that everything is okay. Your words make sense in a simple but profound way. It reminded me of something I read about Aldous Huxley said about the universe being "All Right," with a capital "A" and a capital R". He made this statement when he was reflecting on one of his experiences with LSD. Many people have bad trips apparently, while some have very enlightening experiences. I have never had any experience with the drug, but his words were always comforting to me, and they reminded me of your philosophy.
Just wondering if you can relate to the below in any way? (It's a bit long.)
"The intensity of the experience is entirely unlike any ordinary experience, but on the other hand it quite obviously resembles spontaneous experiences certain artists and religious people have unquestionably had. It's an immense intensification of the world, a transfiguration of the external world into incredible beauty and significance. It's also beyond this kind of aesthetic experience, there may be other experience, a sense of solidarity with the universe, solidarity with other people, understanding of such phrases as you get in the book of Job: "Yeah, Though He Slay Me, Yet Will I Trust In Him", it becomes quite comprehensible. This thing opens the door to these experiences which can be of immense value to people if they choose to make use of them. If they don't choose to, I mean this is what the Catholics call a gratuitous grace, it doesn't guarantee salvation or it's not sufficient and it's not necessary to salvation but if it can be collaborated with and used in an intelligent way it can be an immense help to people. This sense that in spite of everything which of course is the ultimate, I suppose, the ultimate mystical conviction in spite of pain, in spite of death, in spite of horror, the universe is in some mysterious sense is all right, capital A capital R."
I THINK ALDOUS AND I are talking (in my case, blathering) about the same thing: this experience of shifting from mind to body. In Aldous's case, I think he's taken it a step further, maybe with the help of hallucinogenics, but it's still the same thing.
To be honest, it my favorite thing to write about because it's my favorite thing period. It's a profound experience that means something, and you can feel it, rather than just think it. The crazy thing is that there's no obvious road to get there, because roads made with mental effort always lead outwards while real peace only resides within you. That's comforting because you can never lose your touch point with peace, but scary because you can't force it or speed it up.
What we're talking about is the shift from mind to body. I'd say about 99% of our days is spent totally absorbed in our thoughts. It's like a hallucination. Our thoughts are so all-encompassing that it's like we're watching a movie and oblivious to our surroundings and what's going on in our body--the tensions, the subtle movements, and how those change. We track our thoughts like a hunter tracks its prey, and during that time, become more and more disconnected from everything else.
Thought tracking takes on so many different forms. Some of them are beautiful, but most of them are directed at planning, conversations, rehearsing events from our past, and building us up with positive memories. I think it all comes down to an impulse to make ourselves permanent. Our body help up do this through the pain/pleasure system which rewards things that increase our chances of survival and successful reproduction and punishes (through pain) things that threaten our survival. Think about it: sex, food, shelter, physical safety, popularity, children, pair-bonding, cute babies, and financial stability all give us a sense of relief and/or pleasure. Losing these things causes physical pain and anguish.
The most insidious form of thinking is thinking about enlightenment, because it seems like it's more spiritual or holy than other thoughts, but it's the same thing: a desire to escape pain and preserve ourselves in a form that we like the most. That isn't to say that things like meditation and yoga and philosophy (and AskEdahn) aren't valuable. But using them as a vehicle to escape is dangerous and antithetical to the whole purpose. The purpose of these things is to get to you to shift from the thinking-tracking-hallucinating mind-absorption to whatever's happening with you and around you. It's such a weird concept because if you think about what that's like, you're already back in thinking territory.
The shift away from your mind can happen in different ways. Sometimes it happens after exhaustion. Other times by accident (Grace). Other times through pain and sickness. And other times by just listening is a really stupid way. Not intellectualizing, not pondering, not trying to "get" something from your listening, and not having any expectations. Just listening to your breath, then to the tensions and movements of your body. You can do it right now. You probably already are, I bet.
It's quiet, and peaceful. And you start to loosen those tense places in your body, especially around the heart. At some point, when the mind starts to STFU, you're just here. Just sitting (za-zen) or just whatever-ing. And that's when you realize you've made peace with it; the world, you, everything. The peace is in you flowing out to whatever's there. There's no rush anymore because that desperation to change, plan, and better your position in life is muted. It's just All Right.
Thanks for the question, I appreciated it. For you or others, I've written more about the subject of peace, which I call Rest. P.S. What school?
Questions? AMA @ AskEdahn@Gmail.com.