Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Daily Dharma: Transcending Everyday Consciousness

Today's Daily Dharma from Tricycle makes the point that meditation is about changing our consciousness so that we can integrate the teachings into our lives, but that we need our everyday ego consciousness to survive in the world. Too many people think that transcending ego means getting rid of it, rather than simply having the option to not be attached to it.

Transcending Everyday Consciousness

When we sit down to meditate, we are trying to transcend our everyday consciousness: the one with which we transact our ordinary business, the one used in the worlds market-place as we go shopping, bring up our children, work in an office or in our business, clean the house, check our bank statements, and all the rest of daily living. That kind of consciousness is known to everyone and without it we can't function. It is our survival consciousness and we need it for that. It cannot reach far enough or deep enough into the Buddha's teachings, because these are unique and profound; our everyday consciousness is neither unique or profound, it's just utilitarian.

In order to attain the kind of consciousness that is capable of going deeply enough into the teachings to make them our own and thereby change our whole inner view, we need a mind with the ability to remove itself from the ordinary thinking process. That is only possible through meditation. There is no other way. Meditation is therefore a means and not an end in itself. It is a means to change the mind's capacity in such a way that we can see entirely different realities from the ones we are used to.

- Ayya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies; from Everyday Mind, a Tricycle book edited by Jean Smith.

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