It seems that everyone who has come upon the Source inside has to make an attempt, at least once, to describe the ineffable. Here is my attempt.
Before I start, here is a disclaimer. The ineffable cannot be described with words because it is outside of the 3D realm for which language was invented.
The book ‘Flatland’ presents a metaphor for this kind of communication problem. It is a story of a three-dimensional sphere trying to communicate with beings who live on a two-dimensional flat plane. The sphere is trying to wake the two-dimensional beings up to the fact that there is more to life than what they can perceive with their senses. As you can imagine, much confusion and frustration follow from that attempt.
The same confusion and frustration happen whenever someone tries to describe the ineffable within us. Names are given. Consciousness, awareness, Source, void, emptiness, fullness, blackness, light. Piles of books have been written on it in an attempt to describe that which cannot be described with words. Those who have met the Source in themselves will nod their head and say, “I know what they mean.” But those who have not yet come upon the divine in themselves will think, “What are they talking about? What a hell a lot of gibberish! Doesn’t make any sense.”
Then, why try to talk about it at all if any attempt is doomed from the beginning?
Because Source insists on it.
Content of awareness
As I am typing this, I am aware of my surroundings, physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. A blue computer screen, black keyboard, green plants in the room, the view through my window, white sky today. The physical sensation of my body weight sitting on the chair, fingers touching the keyboard. A feeling of coldness in the fingers. The thought that the coldness could be alleviated by eating a warm meal. A gnawing feeling in the stomach. Another thought, ’Is it lunch time yet?’ Impatience arising. A mental vision of my spirit guide. These are all things I can turn my focus towards. The focus of my attention is like a flashlight that I can turn towards anything I choose. Right now it is focused on the battling thoughts ‘Let’s have lunch’ and ‘No, let’s get this post done before lunch.’
Apart from all these things, sensations, thoughts, emotions arising, there is something else. The ineffable. I can choose to turn the focus of my attention away from all the things I have mentioned before. Away from everything out there, away from any thought and any emotion. That does not mean that thoughts and emotions will just vanish while I do this. It just means I can choose to put the focus of my attention on something else.
Where to look
I turn the focus of my attention 180 degrees away from all the things I have mentioned before, like in a U-turn, and look directly back at that which is looking. I turn my awareness back towards awareness itself. I am putting the focus of my attention directly on the sense of I AM.
It is looking at that which is always there in the background, which is always the same for all times (explained in the video on www.justonelook.org as looking at what it feels like to be me; looking at the sense of me). If you prefer to read a book about this method, it is described in The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford as ‘Awareness Watching Awareness’ method.
[edit Feb 2020: How to find out what you should turn the focus of your attention to? Here is a short exercise:
Ask yourself what are you experiencing right now in this moment. Notice the sensations, thoughts, emotions.
Then in your mind go back to about a year ago. What did you experience back then?
Then go back to about ten years ago. Again, what was it like?
Then go back to a moment in your childhood. What was the experience like?
Pause and relax.
Now ask yourself: what was it that stayed the same throughout all these points in time?
That is the sense of ‘I AM’. That which is watching. Which is aware. This is always the same no matter how old we are. That is what I look back at in the 180 degree backwards looking meditation.]
I don’t need a special posture, a guided meditation with green meadows and a blue sky, or to count my breath, or to still my thoughts to find it. I turn my attention away from my body, away from my breath, away from my thoughts. Even away from any mental visions of my spirit guides.
Describing the ineffable
Okay, now the problems with describing the ineffable start. So, bear with me. What do we find when we turn awareness back on itself?
There is nothing there. Or rather, there is no thing there. What I am looking at is not something like my computer screen which one could look at with the eyes. It is not a physical sensation like the coldness in my fingers either. It is not a thought like ‘I am hungry. I want to go to lunch.’ Not an emotion like impatience or frustration as in ‘Why am I writing this? Probably just another useless attempt at describing the ineffable. Let’s have lunch…’ It is not a vision of an angel in my mind.
The eye does not see anything when the attention is turned 180 degrees backwards. Therefore, my mind labels it ‘blackness’ or ‘nothingness’ or ’void’.
That doesn’t sound very enticing, right? Why turn the attention inwards when there is nothing to be found?
Because this place is Home.
What it feels like
In the beginning of this practice, I experienced a lot of resistance for the first few weeks. This manifested as an itchy sensation over the whole body when I tried to look inwards. But I tried again and again. Eventually, staring back at the one who was looking gave rise to a sense of peace. Now, I have to resort to metaphors. In the beginning, it felt like the peace of a surface of a dark still lake. And when I rested there even longer, I got a sense of quiet joy streaming in. Like a small fountain in the heart area, always moving, flowing, inexhaustible.
I turn there in times of trouble and let myself be cradled in the peace and joy and the feeling that all will be okay.
During daily life, especially during routine activities, part of my attention is usually focused inwards. The peace, joy, and gratitude which come from resting in this looking-back-at-Source-place are unconditional. That means they are always there. Even if my fingers are cold and I am hungry. If there is a sudden shock or panic, I may lose the focus on this quiet background of peace, but I try to return to it as soon as possible.
The peace found inside has a magnetic pull to it. It pulls me inside because it feels so good to rest there.
There is a sense of completeness. Of needing nothing else to be happy. Nothing can reach this joy. No outer things like good food or enjoyable company or an expensive vacation.
The experience of this place is different for different people. Not everyone experiences peace and joy right away. For some, it may feel like a void, and not blissful at all, at first. Inner peace can feel weird. It can be experienced as boring. Or not feeling emotions if someone else suffers feels inhuman.
I have read a story by a woman who was in search of God. And then she was swallowed by this void at times and found it horrible. It took some time for her to realize that the void was answering her prayers, and eventually she was able to relax into it and feel the bliss.
What it is
Since this is so ridiculously easy to get there, I was tempted to think, “This can’t be it. No way. This was much too easy. Why should I be able to find it if others meditate their butt off for decades and still don’t find it?” It is easy to dismiss this place of inner peace and joy as ‘just another emotion’. But it is not. It is the connection to Source right inside of me. It is Home.
It is what we are. It is a higher dimension. Like what the 3D sphere is compared to the beings in 2D flatland, this space of awareness is for the content of awareness. It contains everything. It is not awareness arising from my brain, but it is the other way round. My brain is arising in awareness.
It is a place of singularity beyond duality. It embraces opposites. It is beyond the gnawing feeling of hunger in my stomach and beyond the pleasure of having a cup of creamy Belgian Chocolate ice cream.
This void or no-thing-ness is prior to thoughts. It is like pure potential from which thoughts can be born. It gives birth to thoughts and these turn into something solid.
It is the connection to the single guiding hand behind all the seemingly separate appearances. This is the force which orchestrates synchronicities.
The universe will put us to our knees just so that we can find this place of I AM. We are collectively suffering from a sense of mistaken identity. Looking for love in all the wrong places to fill the perceived hole inside of us. Trying to recreate the lost paradise by getting or rearranging things in the outer world. So, the usual path is that the sense of the wrong persona is stripped away, so that we may eventually come unto THAT which cannot be described with words but which is our true Home.
Turning the focus of attention back to awareness itself is remembering who I am. Or rather remembering what ‘I’ is.
It is the place from which guidance and intuition come. And it is the place of the magic wand. Little wishes tend to be fulfilled promptly when I am in this place of unconditional peace. It is just that I don’t have many wishes (except for lunch, maybe) when I am there because everything is well.
It is my life jacket in times of turmoil.
Risks and side effects
It is the connection to Source. At first, I thought, ‘How cool! Can’t you tell me the winning lottery numbers?’ But, no, connection to Source means that Source moves me. In my case, that means I get little homework assignments like ‘Start a blog! Contact this person! Learn to speak up!’ all of which force the little ‘me’ to get out of its comfort zone. (This should be in the fine print to be considered before one embarks on the spiritual journey.)
It feels so good and so complete that there may be little motivation left to do anything else. Why animate this meat suit again if this is not who I am anyway? Why bother with worldly concerns if nothing in the 3D world can give me this peace and joy?
Other risks and side effects of this journey are the deconstruction of the former sense of self and the ego’s reaction to that (see my post about the Dark Night of the Soul). It is all fun and games until someone loses an ‘I’.
Oh, and yet another side effect of having found this place is writing a very long post with too many words about an ineffable topic which cannot be expressed with words in the first place.
But, waking up to this place of unconditional inner peace and joy inside is what we came here for, and that’s why it needs to be expressed even if though it is ineffable.
Author: Karin Finger
This post was originally published here: https://karinfinger.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/describing-the-ineffable/
2 thoughts on “Meditation: focusing on what we are (and describing the ineffable)”
Thanks, informative post
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Thank you. I‘m glad to hear that you like it.