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People often become frustrated by the work of meditation. But the “work“ of meditation is not some process or thing. It is a powerful all-around encounter — raw, unfiltered encounter with the contents of consciousness, and the ephemeral, vast and boundless nature of consciousness itself, before conceptual mind arises. I have encountered numberless situations, over the years, where people apply the same metrics of “progress“ or “advancement“ to this work, and can end up losing their enthusiasm or effort if they have not seen the kinds of “results“ that they expect.

This teaching of the great Zen Master So Sahn (1520-1604) makes something clear that I have continually urged on people who meet the “crisis“ of a practice they might feel to be daunting or unattainable: We are developing a natural insight into the true nature of reality, while simultaneously – – due only to the laws of physics – – we are developing mental affinities which help us both living and dead. Consistent meditation unearths a diamond-like wisdom which is not totally determined and piloted by the delusive formations of a random, scattered thinking-mind out of control. At the moment of our death, these affinities function naturally, without effort, and may prevent us from entering unhelpful or even torturous mental states. ”It is only natural that darkness is not something that can remain in the presence of light.“

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