The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
For most of my life I haven’t been willing to believe in anything that I couldn’t prove. I needed cold hard facts because I thought of myself as a rational logical person. Actually, I still do.
Words and phrases like spirituality, affirmation, meditation, mindfulness, fate or synchronicity made me uncomfortable. I quickly labeled ideas like this with terms like “a bunch hooey,” “airy-fairy,” or “new-age crystally crap.” If I was trying to be polite I’d think something more like “That’s not for me,” and not give the idea another thought.
Meditation definitely fell into this category. Someone sitting cross legged on the floor making little circles with their fingers while chanting looked silly and it wasn’t for me.
The Breakthrough: Or Why I Meditate and Believe in Synchronicity
Picture this; the proudly rational, logical, non-spiritual me is in a bookstore and comes across a book called The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret an Science of Happiness. The front cover is a picture of the author a Buddhist monk complete with shaved head and red and orange robes.
You’d think I wouldn’t give a book like this a second look.
But for some reason I overlooked all the things that would normally make me dismiss this book; the photo on the front, references to Buddhism and meditation, and that the book was classified as religion. Instead I zoomed in on one phrase, “Science of Happiness.”
I knew I had to buy that book.
And it has changed the way I looked at the world.
First, it gave me the proof I needed to be able to delve into a book on meditation. It included lots of scientific validation for meditation.
- The forward is written by a scientist, and mentions a scientific study that Mingyur Rinpoche participated in that showed that meditation experts like Mingyur Rinpoche’s, “neural activity in the key center in the brain’s system for happiness jumped by 700 to 800 percent!”
- The first chapter starts with a quote from Einstein, and the first paragraph says,“When you’re trained as a Buddhist, you don’t think of Buddhism as a religion. You think of it as a type of science, . . with the view toward recognizing ‘Oh, this is how my mind works. This is what I need to do to experience happiness.’”
I was hooked.
I read The Joy of Living slowly. I often had to put it down because some of the ideas I was reading blew my mind. But I worked through it, doing the meditation exercises, taking in all of the information that I could, and skimming over the stuff that was a bit too mystical for me.
As I read, I saw that mediation was something I needed in my life. But that wasn’t all I realized.
You see Mingyur Rinpoche has spent a great deal of time meeting with scientists and trying to understand the mind from both a spiritual and scientific point of view and he often uses science and neurology to explain meditation. The more I read the more I wondered how someone so rational, logical and scientific, could embrace the more mystical aspects of meditation and enlightenment with equal conviction.
It wasn’t long before I was thinking that if he could blend the realms of science and spirituality I might be able to do the same.
Three Breakthroughs from One Moment
I had three different breakthroughs that started with picking up one small book in a bookstore.
- The first, as I said above, is that reading The Joy of Living was a breakthrough in my own spiritual journey, and the beginning of my meditation practice.Realizing that spirituality and trust in cold hard facts could go hand in hand was an eye opener for me.The second is that finding this book cemented my belief in synchronicity and that sometimes important signposts in our lives appear in unexpected places.
- Picking up The Joy of Living, is the moment when I went from believing that events like this are mere coincidence, to believing that some coincidences are more than that — whether you call them synchronicity, fate, or divine intervention — they are meant to happen.There is a Buddhist proverb that you may have heard, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” Finding that book is one of the moments when I was ready and a teacher, in the form of a book, appears and was my teacher for the next step of my journey.
- The third is that I learned to not immediately dismiss ideas that were unfamiliar or uncomfortable for me.Now, when I come across something I’m not familiar with that seems a bit out there, I’ve gone from immediately thinking, “That’s not for me” to putting a bit of effort into learning about the idea, and if I’m still not on-board with it, I file it under, “I’m not ready for that yet.” Maybe I’ll be ready to embrace the idea in the future, and maybe I won’t, but I try not to dismiss new ideas immediately as being “not for me.”
I think the lesson here is simple, it is very easy to let our current beliefs keep us in one spot. It’s when we open ourselves up to different ideas, philosophies and points-of-view that that we grow.
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Do you believe that sometimes a sign appears just when you need it? Have you had any experiences like this? How do you explain these occurrences? I’d love to hear what you think, so please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Here are some thoughts about meditation from the Tergar Meditation Community which is guided by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche:
- Here is an overview of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche life.
photo by Alvin Wong