Now Presence Series Part 1: Vairagya Viveka Nirodhyama
It‘s possible you’ve already heard this said: “BE HERE NOW!” It’s a popular spiritual catchphrase that draws its inspiration from the age-old teachings of the ancient Eastern seers who long ago hoped to pass down the means and techniques for their devotees to attain Sambodhi. Sambodhi is enlightenment, the most mystical and also most sought after state of consciousness on the spiritual path. Finding true presence, the real now, is fundamental to that goal. But what actually is a true now-presence? Could it be as simple as being aware you are here at this moment?
Today numerous teachers continue to pass forward that ageless teaching, “be here now”, which may imply true presence, but rarely is. It’s commonly a novel experience for fledgling spiritual enthusiasts to notice what’s actually happening in the present, rather than being preoccupied with their incompletions with the past or hopes for the future. But just being aware of the moment merely offers the student a possible starting point, a hopeful opportunity to develop a deeper listening that will ideally lead to the discovery of a true nowness. But without the knowledge of how to accomplish that ideal, noticing the “now” for most everyone is nothing more than a default presence awareness that’s momentarily settled on, — but only after undergoing an unseen mental process that involves a variety of hidden cerebral filters, buried or habituated emotional tendencies, and ingrained ego-preferences. The real now will have already passed; by the time it’s traveled through those layers to become an actual perception.
When any event occurs in time a fraction of a second passes before a mental translation of what happened comes about, a translation that takes place in a five-centimeter segment of grey matter in the back of the brain. This initial sensory input is always acted upon by a diverse layer of neural patterns and filters that alter and shape each new moment to suit the perceiver’s mental temperament. The human nervous system can transmit nerve signals ranging between 160 to 280 miles an hour; depending on if it is an ultra-fast neural signal or a slower nerve transmission. Thoughts differ from actual perceptions. Thoughts are our mental reactions to our perceptions. They are not your actual perceptions. You might think to yourself, “I am here.” — But only after you’ve assessed the situation. One way to understand this is to imagine that you are actually realizing your presence through a view into your past. By the time you come to see your moment, it will be altered in appearance through the filtration process it had just undergone, a filtration process that differs greatly from the person who may be sitting next to you. Everyone has his or her own unique set of filters, no one sees your sense of reality like you do.
Why does this matter? — Because you are not seeing reality as it truly is, or is actually happening through just focusing your attention on the now! If you were to ask an enlightened master, what is enlightenment, his or her first response would most likely be, “Enlightenment is your ability to perceive reality as it truly is, — now.” But this “now” the master is referring to, is not the now the unenlightened perceive. This enlightenment “now” is perceived purely. It is completely unfiltered, and remains so as it unfolds through that instant it takes birth in the silent ground of potential from which the entire universe arises. And while that possibility may sound a bit too lofty for some to believe they can experience that, it is actually intended to be your truest nature and your highest possible destiny to live that nowness.
Making enlightenment “nowness” possible, involves implementing the practice of three evolving acts: vairagya, viveka and nirodhyama. The Sanskrit term vairagya can be translated as dispassion, poise, or self-possession. It denotes a developing mindful capacity for distancing one’s conscious awareness from any active mental tendencies. Vairagya is a cultured dispassionate and innocent watchfulness. It begins as a mental discipline that eventually transitions into an effortless witnessing state, which evolves further into vaira’sakśi. Vaira’sakśi is an advanced observing state, in which the perceiver’s core awareness is forever disentangled from the rule of any mental emotions, attachments, or aversions. This isn’t an unfeeling state as it’s sometimes described in various yogic texts. It’s an alert and dynamic witnessing state in which your potential for intuitive sensitivity, unbiased feeling, and a resulting capacity for discrimination are greatly enhanced.
Viveka is the act inside the art of vairagya. It is a pure act of discrimination, — it’s not just that kind of discrimination that involves making those ordinary choices that feed one’s desires. Viveka is a deeper intuitive act that gradually leads to favoring what is real over what is not. Viveka is not merely the ability to choose between preferred life-options, — but between what is an illusion and what is the genuine face of Truth. Nirodhyama is the overall process of mindful transcendence, which relies upon the core acts of vairagya and viveka. The ideal method for learning these three is through rightful meditation practices. — The actual process of which is described in the next lesson.
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