Instituting Pauses for Reflection
Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
Wu Li (zen master)
The subconscious – the harborer of egoism – loves routine, for through patterned behavior old structures (elementals) are preserved and regenerated. The self is lulled to sleep by habit and the status quo persists.
When we bring fire and light into the subconsciousness, egoistic elementals are exposed and can then be transformed. As the subconsciousness comes under the control of the I-ness we will chop wood, and we will carry water but less and less mechanically, and with ever greater presence and awareness.
Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water (all the while thinking about the past or future).
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water (totally in the divinity of the present moment).
Quantitative changes in the personality (transforming subconsciousness elementals into conscious awareness) changes the qualitative nature of waking consciousness. The less subconscious we are, the less we suffer and cause suffering, and the more we enjoy life. Reining in the subconsciousness is arduous work, but it is holy labor and the very heart of spiritual development. Daily Introspection (as taught by Daskalos and many other teachers) is the surest and quickest way to clean the personality. There are, in addition, other tools which help to bring Maria consciousness (of devotion) into Martha activity.
A CONSCIOUS LIVING TECHNIQUE: Instituting Pauses for Reflection
On Sunday night, the eve of a new week, select a cue or trigger from typical activity of your daily routine that will initiate A Pause for Reflection. The cue can arise when you prepare to eat a meal, ascend or descend the stairs, stop at a traffic light, or open the refrigerator door. Tell your subconsciousness that when you find yourself in a selected behavior you are to stop and take stock of your state of being. In these moments, in the days of the coming week, when that cue arises, pause and ask yourself;
How aware am I at this moment? Are my thoughts on past events? Are they on future events? Am I calm or worried? What am I thinking in this moment? Is it a healthy thought? Are my actions inspired by subconsciousness? What have I been busy with the last hours? How aware have I been today? And Christ said ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.’ (Matt. 6:34)
Do not scold yourself if your concerns seem overly mundane. The technique is geared to gently shed the light of awareness on the subconsciousness. This is itself revolutionary enough, and to fight the subconsciousness only makes it stronger!
If you find it helpful, carry a small notebook and record your experience. And each night when you prepare to sleep read your notes, and go through the day and your experiences, again without criticism. Ask that the divine forces help you that night to wake more and more each day! Practice this technique for a week and then again a few weeks later (that your subconsciousness has time to transform slowly and surely).
© Paul Skorpen, 2001-2012