Compare and Contrast – September 11 2017

I work with these girls [in a recovery program]. They ask for guidance, and I tell them my experience, like ‘blue blue blue,’ but all they hear is ‘green, green, green.’ Then one day they come to me and they say, ‘you’re never going to believe it! I was talking to so and so, and you know what she said? Blue! Isn’t that amazing? Why didn’t you ever tell me that?’
When we study what it means to live “a spiritual life,” we hear some of the same things over and over again–from a somewhat different point of view, from a certain cultural, intellectual or religious bias, but with the same basic message. This is of course what we would expect. It’s not as if there are an unlimited number of truths. The truth is the truth. The truth is that which never changes. So what we hear as we travel through the circles we’re drawn to is bound to echo what we have heard before and what we will hear again. So why listen, if it’s all the same?
There’s a saying that you never can step into the same river twice. Consciousness is like that. Everything is new, always. There are books that I re-read, that I have read countless times. Still I find things that I’ve never seen before. Because the consciousness that is reading it today has changed from the consciousness that read it last year.
And as in the quote above, one speaker/writer might say something that we’ve heard before, but say it in such a way that we hear it, as if for the first time. We hear what we hear when we’re ready to hear it. Up until that time, maybe we’re just practicing listening, but that’s good, too.
Even though the truth may be the same, there of course can be a big difference between what one school of thought and another might suggest we do with that truth. In this regard we pay attention to our own experience. What feels right to us. What do we respond to. What works for us. There are teachers who will tell us that all we need do is stop looking outside ourselves and realize the truth within. If you can do that, great. You’re one of the fortunate few. For myself, years ago when I had no meditation technique, when I would close my eyes and try to feel the truth about myself at the deepest level, I was met with thought-thought-Thought-Thought-THOUGHT-THOUGHT-THOUGHT, my head getting louder and louder and my anxiety level rising. I was never able to find what some others found. Then with my first Vedic meditation, and all the subsequent days and weeks and years of it, I still had the thoughts, and I went beyond the thoughts, too. And when I’ve asked myself: does it feel right? Does it feel true? Does it feel like me.? The answer has been yes, it feels right. It feels like me. Even as my idea of ‘me’ has changed, it continues to feel even more like me.
None of this is to say that what anyone else does is wrong, or that what I do is more right. It is to say that it is right for me, and I am so very grateful that as I continue to ask myself the questions and continue to check in with myself, the answer continues to be yes.
Today I will remember to compare how it feels to be me today with how it felt to be me before I learned to meditate. I will remember my experience from then and compare it to my experience of today and if I can see in this comparison evidence of my growth, I will be grateful to the teachers who have guided me and to myself for becoming willing to follow the guidance.
Sun through Smoke, Studio City, CA
All original material copyright © 2017 Jeff Kober