Spiritual traditions agree God is omnipresent. How then do you see God? Nothing more than awareness is required, but awareness of profound depth. This article explains how a highly efficient method of meditation anchors attention, builds awareness, and delivers the prize. First, let’s look at the challenge. What does it take to see God?
What It Takes To See God
“When will I see God,” asked the seeker? “Come with me,” answered the Guru and led the man to a river. There he held the man’s head under water a long while. “How did you feel” asked the Guru? “I was desperate,” the man answered. “I thought I would die.” “When you feel like that in your seeking,” said the Guru, “you will see God.”
This tale reflects the great difficulty of seeing God. That difficulty stems from our lack of awareness. Seeing God takes a mind unclouded by thinking. It demands full clarity of vision: the clarity of “ten suns shining.” Only penetrating awareness sees ultimate or “Supreme Reality” as it’s known in the East. Mind’s endless wandering keeps us far from it.
How do we build awareness? The answer is simple: attention. Attention is the ultimate spiritual practice. Let me illustrate its power with a success story: the Carmelite Brother Lawrence (1614 to 1691) and his Practice of The Presence of God.
Attention: The Ultimate Spiritual Practice
The ultimate spiritual practice is not prayer, ritual or the study of scriptures. It is attention. We see proof of this in Brother Lawrence’s success. “Don’t believe,” he said. “See and experience.” How do you experience God? “Rivet attention” was his answer. Let’s look deeper.
If you asked Lawrence: How do you enter the presence of God? He’d have said: “You don’t need to. You’re already there.” If you asked: “Why don’t we know it?” he would have said: “Your thinking stands in the way.”
Lawrence saw habitual thinking as the barrier to spiritual fulfillment. He argued that thoughts “are of little or no actual use… They are not conducive to our salvation, and we should not spend our lives captives of them.” We are kept from the presence of God, he said, “by trifles and fooleries.”
How do you stop thinking? His answer: “Recall your mind from its wanderings.” “Rivet attention,” he said. “Hold yourself before God like a dumb and paralyzed beggar at a rich man's gate. Concentrate! Intensity of concentration will drive from your mind everything that can displace God.”
Note the simplicity of the method. Attention builds awareness. You need nothing more. Lawrence practiced attention at all times. His awareness deepened and finally became “habitual and natural.” Then “the ordinary mind” was no more. Awareness came “with great felicity,” his soul “suspended and held in God as in its center and place of rest.” He had no need to believe. He saw and experienced God. Never however, did Lawrence claim that attention came easy.
The Difficulty Of Holding Attention
Success for Lawrence required years of full time discipline. He spoke frankly of difficulty, saying he often lost attention, sometimes for long periods. This difficulty is familiar to anyone who meditates.
In meditation, success depends on attention (to a mantra, a candle flame or the breath, for instance.) You set out to attend, but even with the best intentions, attention is easily lost. Why? It is because you lose attention without knowing you are losing it. Attention slips away unseen. You find out only later when you wake from a daydream.
A new Straight Line Meditation method solves the problem. It allows self-monitoring, using feedback to signal attention. Guided by feedback, the wandering mind takes a beeline - a straight line to the goal. This brings ultimate spiritual fulfillment in reach as never before. Here’s how it works.
The Solution: The Straight Line Meditation Method
With the new method, visual feedback anchors attention. No equipment is required, just a bull’s eye – a point for focusing attention. You simply sit and focus on the bull’s eye. Good attention holds your eyes still, and this creates slight visual distortions (usually halos of light). When your mind wanders, your eyes wander and distortion disappears. The light serves as feedback. It lets you know when you’re on target and alerts you when you wander off.
Without feedback, no more than a few seconds of sustained attention are possible. With feedback you can hold attention indefinitely. This method is a power tool that sharpens with use and cuts through everything. It clears mental clutter that stands in the way of experiencing ultimate reality, and to harness its power you need only motivation.
Outside of a monastery, few can afford Lawrence’s continuous investment of time. With this highly efficient method, a session a day suffices. Riveting attention comes easy when you can mind your mind. Now let’s see the reward of practice.
The Reward Of Practice: The Experience Of God
What you gain from practice is progressively deepening awareness, and full awareness is another state of being. As Lawrence said, “the ordinary mind is no more.” In place of habitual thinking is Christianity’s “Divine Union;” Zen’s oneness with the source. As to the feeling, it is “Supreme Bliss” in Hinduism. Lawrence called it simply “happiness,” but he meant more than we normally know by the word. It was for Lawrence: “the standard by which all happiness should be judged.”
God is omnipresent, and to be fully aware anywhere feels like adoring God. Poet Edna Millay experienced God in nature: “God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on Thy heart.” Full awareness sees divinity in “a leaf of grass… and heaven in a wildflower.” Any place you are fully aware will become sacred to you. Beyond this it is wise to say with Buddha: the experience is “indescribable, inconceivable, unutterable.”
We are born aware. Spiritual fulfillment is a birthright. STRAIGHT LINE MEDITATION by Carol E. McMahon, Ph.D. with Master Deac Cataldo, teaches how to restore awareness, step by step from beginner practice to the highest goal. There you can “Raise your eyes and look about. You will be radiant at what you see (Isaiah 60: 1-6).”