The last place I expected to gain a new insight into "the beyond" was at a fashion exhibit. In fact, when I visited the Charles James: Beyond Fashion exhibit this summer at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, I was struck by how we love to explore the "beyond" and reminded of how transcending in meditation can satisfy this basic instinct.
In the James exhibit, "beyond" referred to his genius as an artisan -- his ability as a sculptor of fabric, to transcend his medium. Through technology, his glorious designs were digitally deconstructed to reveal their "architectural underpinnings." Connecting superficial appearances of fashion with its abstract, conceptual images was satisfying; I left with a fresh insight into human nature.
The journeys we take to discover what is beyond appearances and the enrichment we feel from such discoveries are a natural part of our daily experience. No matter what kind of exploration it is -- whether through 'digital' fashion or meditation -- traveling a path to and from the subtler layers may be essential to develop the personality in a fully integrated way. When we go beyond the surface, we carve out instinctual roadmaps and cultivate the ability to know deeper layers of ourselves.
"Exploring the explorer" is critical. Diving deep into our own consciousness and fathoming the essence of our own nature is where meditation can succeed in ways that other journeys can only hint at. The key is in the process of transcending.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique describes the process of "transcending" in meditation:
The manner in which Transcendental Meditation takes the mind from the gross to the subtle is very simple and is based upon the innate tendency of all human minds to seek happiness. The very nature of the mind is to go to a field of greater happiness. The happiness referred to is not pleasure, nor sensual gratification, nor excitement, but a tranquil and confident state of knowing -- of knowing that 'I am', of knowing that 'I' exists and that it is permanent and unchanging.
Transcending is a way of deconstructing the superficial activity of the thinking level of the mind and fathoming awareness in its sequentially more abstract, unbounded levels into the source of thought, where the 'I' is fully awake. A fascinating experience of transcending through the TM technique by an artist shows how transcending cultivates familiarity with deeper levels of awareness:
Transcending for me is like taking a bullet train to the transcendent--I am traveling so fast that I don't see the landscape speeding by, but only know that I've been there and back by how rested and refreshed I feel afterward. One day, I took my transcending train as usual, but to continue my analogy, instead of going the speed of light, I found I was only going 10 miles an hour. My mind was still settling down to the inner silent transcendent, pure Being, but the process was so slow that it allowed me to clearly perceive subtle levels of consciousness. For an artist this was beyond anything I could have imagined, had ever seen or thought to see. This was 'awake' perception into and within the silence of the transcendent.
Another meditator's experience of transcending through TM:
The silence and stillness is thick, like honey. There is an element of bliss and of being at home, completely fulfilled in my transcendental abode. My awareness and physiology are filled with deep silence, but at the same time I am experiencing gentle outward perceptions on the surface levels.
A sense of inner fulfillment grows through the increasingly refined experience of transcending thought. So often, inner fulfillment is clouded by stress, anxiety and maybe even depression. The secret of success is the habit of making this inward journey into the transcendental source of our own Being through meditation, and then coming out into activity, suffused with the qualities of that source -- creativity, intelligence and happiness. This is how the state of liberation is cultivated. Not the superficial kind of liberation that we think of when we are
young (or old) which is tied to freedom from something -- rules and responsibilities -- but rather the kind that is perpetual and unchanging regardless of situation and circumstance. It is fullness and wholeness of Being blossoming into every layer of the personality.
Tapping into the source of our awareness is the ultimate "beyond" experience worthy of cultivating at any age, the one journey that leads us to a state of lasting fulfillment.
Video: Top Model enjoys meditation
1. Transcendental Meditation, Questions and Answers, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1967. Pg. 13, 17
2. Invincible America Assembly, Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness of Course Participants, Vol 1. 2006-2009. Pg 6
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