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The Pathless Path: Jon Kabat-Zinn gives a beautiful analogy in his book “Coming to Our Senses” of the dialectical relationship between the path and the pathless. He points out that we cannot attain our foot because we already have it. But at the same time, the foot of a great dancer “knows” something that an ordinary foot does not, although in their fundamental nature they are the same. He talks in that book about two ways to look at meditation:
“One approach is to think of meditation as instrumental, as a method, a discipline that allows us to cultivate, refine, and deepen our capacity to pay attention and to dwell in present-moment awareness…This way of looking at meditation is necessary, important, and valid. But…this method-based way of describing the process is not in itself complete and can, by itself, give an erroneous impression of what meditation actually involves…
“There is a second, equally valid, way to describe it, a description that is critical to a complete understanding of what meditation really is when we come to practice it.
“The other way of describing meditation is that whatever ‘meditation’ is, it is not instrumental at all. If it is a method, it is a method of no method. It is not a doing. There is no going anywhere, nothing to practice, no beginning, middle, or end, no attainment, and nothing to attain. Rather, it is the direct realization and embodiment in this very moment of who you already are, outside of time and space and concepts of any kind, a resting in the very nature of your being, in what is sometimes called the natural state, original mind, pure awareness, no mind, or simply emptiness. You are already everything you may hope to attain…You are already it. It is already here. Here is already everywhere and now is already always…And there is no purpose to meditation…other than to be awake to what is actually so…
“These two ways of understanding what meditation is are complementary and paradoxical, just as are the wave and particle nature of matter at the quantum level and below. That means that neither is complete by itself. Alone, neither is completely true. Together, they both become true.
“For this reason, both descriptions are important to know of and keep in mind from the very beginning…That way, we are less likely to get caught on the horns of dualistic thinking, either striving too hard to attain what we already are, or claiming to already be what we have not in actuality tasted and realized and have no way of drawing on, even though technically speaking it may be true and we are already it….
“These two descriptions inform each other…”
--Jon Kabat-Zinn, from his wonderful book Coming to Our Senses. I think this beautifully expresses what I was trying to express in my recent “Note” on “The Paradox of the Wave Seeking the Ocean.”