“The meditative experience is, to my mind, the practice of dying, the practice of letting go. The more you practice letting go, the more you begin to understand the journey of your soul or your spirit as it detaches from the material nature of existence. There is a river, and as soon as you unmoor the boat and you start to enter that river, you end up on a journey. Not all of us have gone to the mouth of that river, but I think we are all aware, in the meditative process, that the journey exists. As you go deeply inside your psyche you’re aware of the similarity of this journey to the journey of the soul after death.”
Bruce Rubin writes, “The meditative experience is, to my mind, the practice of dying, the practice of letting go.” That is the meditative experience to my mind, too. Yet, there are two points on which I have difficulty following him.
The first is this notion of “detaching from the material nature of existence”. That word “material” is tricky, isn’t it? I assume Rubin means the material nature of existence as distinct from the spiritual. But maybe I am just being a very good Westerner in making that assumption — for isn’t it one of our basic Western presuppositions that when we detach from the material nature of existence we inevitably enter a spiritual nature of existence? And does Rubin really assume that? Does he really believe the spiritual side of things is distinct from the material side of things? Is he, too, being a good Westerner here?
However, let’s assume for a moment that the predominant Western religious tradition is right and we have — all of us have — a material side and a spiritual side. We might call those sides “body” and “soul” to be brief. Now, if we further assume the body is distinct from the soul, then it would seem to follow that the epistemology whereby we know the body must be distinct from the epistemology whereby we know the soul. We know the body through our senses, but through what or how do we know the soul?
Well, I think it is obvious we would know the soul through meditation. Meditation that is — as Rubin and I both understand it — the practice of dying, the practice of letting go.
That is the only way we could know the soul. By letting go of the “body” — the material nature of existence. For if the soul is distinct from the body, then knowing the soul must require an entirely distinct epistemology from knowing the body. Right?
Ah! How wonderful that we have solved that problem in less than 450 words!
So, I can see where Rubin might be going with all this if — if — he is like any good Westerner assuming the soul can be distinguished from the body. IF that is his interpretation, then meditation is the means of realizing that distinction.
As for myself, though, I cannot get my mind around this notion of a soul that is distinct — or can be made distinct — from the body. So far as I know, I have never experienced anything like that. Even in my most “profound” meditations, I have not “detached from the material nature of existence” — albeit, I have otherwise done some pretty good dying in my day. There you have it, then. The first point on which I have difficulty following Rubin. Of course, I am not saying he is wrong and I am right. I am merely saying our experiences differ on this point. In the end, each of us must go with his or her own experience.
As you might expect, the second point on which Rubin and I differ are the ISO standard specifications for the g-strings worn by erotic dancers. In my humble opinion, Rubin’s reckless interpretation of the specs would create monstrous g-strings resembling diapers, and thus lead to the worldwide collapse of civilization! Trust me! You do not want to follow Rubin’s g-strings specs!
Ok. I confess I made that up. Please, let me try again…. The second point on which Rubin and I differ is this notion of a journey. Frankly, I have not observed the meditative process to be a journey. What I have observed is my brain trying very hard to see it as a journey. To treat it as a journey. To frame it as a journey. But I have not seen a journey. I have not seen anything genuinely progressive in the meditative process. And, so, I must disagree with Rubin’s notion, “…we are all aware, in the meditative process, that the journey exists.” For me, giving up the notion I am on a journey is part of the letting go of meditation.
Again, I am not saying one of us is right and the other is wrong. I am merely saying that Rubin and I share some observations but not others. Both of us have approached meditation as a dying, a letting go. I suspect both of us have shared many similar observations, but on two points we differ. First, I do not have any evidence from my meditations for thinking there is a spiritual side of existence distinct from a material side of existence, and second, I have not experience a genuinely progressive, journey-like meditation.
Naturally, both of these differences pale in comparison to the intense debate Rubin and I are involved in over g-string specs. You see, anyone can observe for themselves, and hence, reach their own provisional conclusions, about such trivia as the material/spiritual nature of things or the progressive/nonprogressive dynamic of meditations. But only an authentic expert such as myself knows for sure that civilizations rise or fall based upon which g-string specs are internationally adopted. So, do not trust me when it comes to meditation. But trust me with your daughter’s wardrobe. Please. For the sake of civilization. Please.