Meditation: The Ease of Effortless LivingDec 30, 2021 09:45AM ● By Dr. Larry Castellani
Depth psychology tells us that human existence suffers from a sense of lack and frustration—especially frustration of our desires. But this isn’t permanent. Lack and frustration are often the color and texture of existence—emotional existence—but not our essence being.
Sadly, if not humorously, our solution to these perceived problems is more and greater pleasures or, all too often, more and more work until we become slaves of sorts to either pleasure and work or excitement and achievement or both.
A therapy or behavioral management approach to dealing with this existential dilemma has its place and virtue, but it is not the only or necessarily the best approach. They can ameliorate pain and dysfunction, ending suffering to a degree. What the therapies don’t do or may not even believe can be done is to unveil the inherent happiness and peace of our very being at the heart of existence. Therapies are oriented to eliminating problems resulting in some relief from suffering. Freud himself said that the most therapy could hope to do is return people to ordinary everyday suffering. For some, this is sufficient. But in a way, this is kind of like the relief we get if we’ve been hitting ourselves over the head with a hammer and then figure out how good it feels to stop.
Through therapy, I did learn some of what it takes to stop hitting myself over the head with a hammer. I am grateful for that. However, it did not help me with effortless peace and happiness, let alone love and true freedom. Despite experiencing quite a variety of therapies for years, real happiness was elusive. A sense of lack and longing remained and moved me forward to try “meditation”.
The path of meditation began for me in the summer of 1971. Since then, I have traversed the practices of yoga and relaxation, mindfulness, tai chi and many transformational workshops. These were wonderful experiences which I enjoyed, yet they did not lead me to the goal I sought. I really didn’t even know how to name that goal, but I knew and felt that I was not there. I was not free of longing and seeking.
In spring of 1999, I was invited to a session in Satsangh, a spiritual experience which leads one on the direct path of absolute awareness and awakening to Truth. Satsangh means “in communion with Truth”. After nearly two decades of seeking and searching, my breakthrough came in an instant of awakening to the truth of myself as pure, effortless Awareness or Self-Consciousness, that is, consciousness became aware of itself as happiness and final fulfillment in peace, love and freedom from suffering. I had never ever experienced anything like this in my 52 years on Earth.
I didn’t regret my years of searching. Given my kind of karma, my emotional conflicts, beliefs and drives, the indirect path of searching and seeking, of practice and efforting was probably inevitable. It just was not necessary. Why was it not necessary? Because in that moment of awakening, I saw what was always there. It was my own true essential nature. It was good, very good. It was happiness and love, peace and freedom, a love not just of myself but of life itself, a freedom from all burdens. The reason effortful practices to achieve something were not necessary is because “effortlessness” is our true nature. It didn’t have to be achieved or earned. It just had to be seen, felt, loved. It was not a matter of a process, a step-by-step procedure of perfecting something—something that was already perfect. I just had to see, experience and know it—my true Self.
What arose for me in Satsangh was like the sun rising. But like the sun that is always there and really doesn’t arise, doesn’t move, but shows itself when the Earth turns toward it, in like manner one doesn’t make the light of meditation arise. It is always there. But when you turn your attention from the world to the Light of lights, the conscious Self of pure awareness, then one sees what was always there and shows itself, its Light, as happiness, peace, freedom and Love.
So, this experience of happiness is not a “doing” but a “knowing” not dependent on any “thing” that makes us happy. When one experiences the truth of our real, natural existence, then we see this truth and know it. Once it is known, the burden of seeking, doing, practicing and achieving is over. You are home and you can put down the burden that was never really yours and now no longer you. Concern and consternation end; love and compassion begin.
Dr. Larry Castellani is a retired philosophy professor living in Clearwater, Florida. He is the father of 12-year-old twin boys. Having also retired from homeschooling his boys, his teaching is focused on meditation for health and happiness. Castellani created a unique approach to effortless meditation entitled “Integral Awareness Meditation” which he has been teaching for 27 years. For more information, call 716-816-5464.