The Ocean

As a wave, seething and foaming, is only the ocean

So all creation, streaming out of the Self, is only the Self.

-Ashtavakra Gita

Not a whole lot you can add to that. The ‘Gita’ was written around 500 BC, and serves as a foundational text for Advaita Vedanta. Advaita translates to “non-secondness”. Today, this same philosophy or spiritual practice is known as non-duality.

In trying to introduce my approach to meditation, I’ve wrestled with how to position myself on the spirituality spectrum – either casting a wide net a la Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra, or digging in uncompromisingly to the heart of the matter and giving up no ground as Tony Parsons or Fred Davis does. As one guy remarked to me after a long time hosting meditation meetings that weren’t really going anywhere, he tried telling the people “I am you”, and they stopped showing up after that. Perhaps a middle way is possible.

That being said, ultimately the seeker will have to confront the inevitable, and any “guru” or “teacher” who will not do so should be dismissed out of hand.

The inexorable truth of meditation and non-duality is encapsulated about as well as linguistically possible by the ocean and the wave analogy. It works on a lot of levels. It still has its limitations, as all words and concepts do, but its all we’ve got to work with at the moment.

The gist of the problem that humanity has been increasingly struggling with for the past several millennia is an identity crisis. We have bought into, conditioned ourselves, and reinforced the false notion that we are waves separate from the ocean. This entity of ‘me’ apparently springs forth out of nowhere, rises and then crashes onto the shore, never to be heard from again. And sure, we comfort ourselves with vague notions of love or the ‘golden rule’ or that we’re “all in this together”, but you don’t have to push very hard to see the terrified animal hard at work just below the surface, still hopelessly lost in the game of survival and ambition and desire – the status quo.

When all is realized and seen as the self, of what use is ambition and competition and desire? It becomes laughable, and makes no sense. You’re jockeying for position against.. yourself? Striving so strenuously and anxiously – as most people clearly are despite their best efforts to hide it – to arrive or obtain or satiate whatever it is that they are after.

And the greater the struggle, the larger and more menacing the waves seem to become. But they all crash the same way, onto the shore and back into the ocean. We don’t get sad or worry about the “end” of the wave, because we can observe that it slips right back into the ocean.

This observation needs to be extrapolated onto the human being, and the process of realizing this is meditation. Right now we are inflicted with an utterly debilitating fear of death that is greatly diminishing the value of life itself. We are stuck, frozen, unable to take a step for fear of “infecting” one another, offending one another, trespassing on another, etc. And the fear just keeps compounding on itself, pushing the separation and anxiety even further. The spell needs to be broken.

The Self – the ocean – is inexhaustible, indivisible, the eternal spring from which all waves *seem* to arise. “You” are that. “I” am that. The ocean explores its own possibility through the timeless oscillation of the wave, but it is not meant to be confused as a whole separate entity.

When asked how we should treat others, the great sage responded simply, “there are no others”.

Nowhere to go, nothing to attain, just riding the wave.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s