meditation templeOne frigid Saturday morning with wind-chill below zero and frostbite warnings, a dozen of us from Sirius Community braved the elements and ventured out to a neighboring spiritual community to assist with work projects. After working together all morning, we gathered to meditate in their very beautiful and expansive temple.

After some silent time, the monks from the Buddhist order began to chant and drum. The chanting and drumming helped carry me deeper within, especially the powerful vibrations of the giant drum. The head monk invited us to make an offering of incense at the large impressive altar, and one by one we each took a turn. When it was my turn, I slowly approached the altar and bowed three times as I had observed the monks do. As I bowed the third time, I had a knowing wash over me. I heard no words, but it was if someone spoke this to me “this altar is for you; you are bowing to yourself.” I knew it was telling me “remember; you are not the small self you think you are. You are part of the greater whole.

After bowing, I knelt on a cushion in front of the altar, and made an offering of incense. After I did this, I placed my hands together in front of me in prayer position and looked up at the large prominent Buddha statue sitting above the altar. I was only slightly startled to experience a strong presence surrounding the Buddha, which seemed to be regarding me. It was as if the statue I gazed upon was gazing back at me, and with intensity. It felt as if it was looking right through me. I heard the following phrase in my head, this time I heard words spoken with passion and ferocity “destroy the world!

Initially thinking I must be imagining it all, it didn’t take me long to see the two messages were connected. The world I was being instructed to destroy was the illusory world, based on the false notion of separation. I also knew I had the power to destroy it, because this false world existed within me. There was a component to the message that wasn’t lost on me, and that was the ferocity with which it was delivered. I knew I was being asked to summon that energy within me. I was uncomfortable with this energy, never mind the thought of embodying it. Egads!

At the same time, I understood if there was an aspect of Spirit I was rejecting, I was back to the root problem, namely, separation. Having forgotten who I really am, I’ve constructed a false self, which is generally mild-mannered and often ruled by fear, and an illusory world around this self. It was quite sobering to wake up to the fact I was living a false life. And, if I’m really being honest, I know my projection of the world, this false life, will only keep getting smaller and smaller until the walls are closing in on me. And here’s the kicker: once I’ve become aware of this projection, then I’ve also figured out I’m responsible for it. Everything I see “out there” is inside me; I dreamt it into existence.

Therefore, it is up to me and only me to destroy it.

I took a moment to ponder what this might mean in real life terms. Don’t worry, I told myself, it doesn’t mean you have to light a fire and immolate your body. No. Simply stop identifying as this body. And by the way, it might be helpful to remember you are not these thoughts, emotions, or this personality either. You are not who you think you are. And neither is this world what it appears to be.

Here’s what it does mean, I continued my inner dialog. Stop playing small, stop playing victim to the world, and stop trying to change, heal, or save the world. Remember the world you see is an illusion you fabricated. It is time to step into your expanded self, love yourself, and realize heaven in within you and all around you. And don’t forget the initial message: this altar is for you. I bowed once more and got up from the cushion.

I swear it looked as if the Buddha was smiling at me.
temple altar

Meditative Exercise

Imagine you are watching a movie in a darkened theater, and you get totally absorbed in the story. For a while you forget about the others in the movie theater, and even that you are in a theater. You own life fades from your awareness as you begin to feel personally involved with the people and deeply engaged in the unfolding drama playing out.

All of a sudden the hero who you have grown to love and who plays a critical role is about to get hit by a train of which he is unaware, and it appears there’s just enough time to save him. What would you do?

Next, consider something similar may be going on in your life right now. What if there is a larger more expansive world of which you are a part that you have forgotten or blocked from your awareness. What if you are actually living in heaven and have never left?

Could it be you’ve become so totally absorbed in the unfolding drama of the story you dreamed up, it is as if the lights are turned down in the theater and all your attention is glued to the stage? Could it be you are seeing the people around you as the characters they play in your production, as the roles you’ve cast for them, instead of seeing them for who they truly are?

Imagine this: you’ve been deeply engaged in the play of your life for so long, you feel there is likely nothing beyond the curtain-fall. You pray the end doesn’t occur until some distant future time. Then comes an interruption. Something from your “real” life gets your attention. This prompts you to start looking at the larger “unseen” world around you, which you’ve temporarily blocked from your awareness. Also, you begin to see the people around you in their truest essence instead of as characters playing roles you’ve assigned them.

Take several minutes to imagine this. Use actual people and events from your life.