The Dynamic River of Life: Your Way to Freedom, Greatness
The dynamic river of life is the way of the will, the omnipresent life force driving evolution – it’s the essence of our being, life itself, but not everyone is aware of its power. In this chapter we’ll look at the role the will plays in integral meditation and the process of Self-realisation. Leaders, pioneers,revolutionaries and authorities of all kinds are governed by the energy of the will: it pushes us forward with authenticity and force, continuously creating space for new life.
We all have power, yet we often disown it and relegate it to the shadows.Power is linked to sex, money, knowledge, beauty and physical strength. We often think about it in terms of having power over others, but we can also have power over ourselves. However, due to a lack of self-knowledge, our decisions are rarely based on our true needs. Most of our choices are unconscious and based on emotional material determined by our family and cultural background.
For more than a decade I’ve worked very closely with the will, which is a central theme in Psychosynthesis. Personally, I’ve never felt powerful. I come from a humble background and these roots affect me still. It’s difficult to think big having grown up in an environment that inhibited such thoughts, but it’snot impossible. I’ve come to understand that it’s only by daring to be ambitious that we can draw upon our power.
Power has always been a controversial topic because it can be so easily misused and abused, so we must certainly be cautious. Yet it is a topic we cannot avoid: when repressed, the will continues working in the unconscious,sparking one power struggle after another. Often, our need for acceptance and recognition means we are afraid to use our power in case we might upset others or earn a reputation for being domineering. But if we do not learn how to own and use our power we might find we are vulnerable to being dominated by others who are not afraid to exert their will at others’ expense.
Precisely because the will is powerful, it’s often the last function we learn to master. It is not power itself that’s problematic, but the way we manage power. The Soul wants power in order to bring love and wisdom into the world. I want power in order to spread energy psychology as far as possible.These are good uses of power.
Greatness is related to the will. Through the will we can free ourselves from bondage and embrace our power. The will is a primary force, pushing us beyond our comfort zone when it is necessary to grow – this can be painful, and we often kick and scream when forced out of our secure little worlds. The will can also be used to cut the ties that diminish our lives. By using our will, greatness can be found; we must dare to listen to its call and throw ourselves into life. With this in mind, it is important to recognise the difference between two types of will: there is the will of the personality, which can be self-assertive and domineering, whereas the will of the Soul wants to make a difference in the world.
It will take time to learn how to use our will and our power, and even as we do so we will need to fight feelings of inferiority and negative self-images which require great effort to overcome. It is a never-ending struggle. The One Life’swill, which means the Universal Life drives us toward greatness, yet too often we are satisfied with mediocrity and ignore the gold hidden in our hearts.Mediocrity insults our divine core, but even the most inert mediocrity eventually gives way to the piercing force of the Soul. Something in us insists on the freedom to realise our potential for the good, the true and the beautiful. And the good news is that many are now waking up to this freedom.
No one can be great without a vision of greatness. What is our personal vision of greatness? What do we want to achieve so that our lives can be a true expression of who we are? Small achievements are sufficient for the little self,but the Soul requires something more – yet becoming aware of this ambition can be frightening.
In late 2011, I was on a meditation retreat, meditating ten hours a day for five days. On the third day I noticed a shift in my being. An intense, tightly focused energy surrounded my head. I felt like something was pushing me – a vacuum that wanted to suck me out of myself and into the cosmos. I could see a light at the end of a long tunnel. I gathered my strength and focused on this light,then suddenly found myself in a kind of birth canal, a narrow passage that I had to force myself through. How long I stayed like this I do not know because my awareness was so fixed on the light. Finally I emerged into what I can only describe as a “cosmic intention”, a force field of will, more powerful than any I have ever known. Its message was simple: the intention demanded that a number of meditation schools be established over the world in order to forge a link between the divine will and humanity’s collective will. The message was wordless, an intuitive awakening to my part in a global, even cosmic project.I had long felt this calling and worked towards it, but never before had I felt in possession of such a grand vision or of the feeling that the cosmos was working with me.
The universal will manifests in us as the will to love. The World Soul is awakening so quickly that it needs help in reaching humanity so we can play our part in its emergence. This work needs to take place all over the planet,and I felt awe and pride in recognising my small role in this noble task.
I have learned that intuitions that arrive during meditation can be filled with intention and power. They are not merely mental images but fields of living energy and determination. The personality reacts to these forces differently,depending on its readiness. Opposition to the new will rises from the subconscious,ready to defend its territory. A power struggle begins. Who will occupy the throne in our inner kingdom? Here we discover what kind of hero we are.Our choices and actions reveal who we are, our values and needs, and the powers we serve. In this struggle we need to learn forgiveness. We invariably make mistakes and let ourselves down. Befriending our inner and outer combatants helps. We are never alone, however isolated we feel at times.
In my experience, as an old wounded warrior, gentle love is not enough. We need a fiery dynamic love – a will to love. The dynamic river leads to the Royal Road and the way of the hero. We are all kings and queens of noble birth, destined to rule over our personal kingdom. The purpose of life is to realise our talents and actualise our Soul’s vision in the world. By conquering ourselves we enter the kingdom of heaven – which is the Soul – then we can share the treasure we find with the world. This ongoing struggle requires much blood,sweat and tears, and our later moments of spontaneous flow come about as a result of our work on integrating our will and power. What does it mean to be a hero? It means realising our inner nature and expressing it in action, thereby bringing greatness to life.
An appetite for freedom is characteristic of the dynamic river of life. At first freedom was not that important to me, I only wanted love, or to be free in the sense of being free from something. This was partly because I misunderstood the meaning of freedom. Most commonly, freedom is often associated with boundaries – which are, of course, an important aspect of freedom because they help us to assert our sovereignty, to stand up for ourselves, and to develop the resilience we need to face life. But this is only one aspect of freedom. Freedom also means expressing our divine potential through will, love,beauty, genius, and our power to create. Freedom means embracing life and investing our power and abilities in creative expression. Some religions speak of transcending the world we find ourselves in – but this is not the way of freedom. It is certainly true that we can be free by running from our conflicts,but we can also access the freedom to stand and confront our conflicts. So while the ascetic rejects the world, the new spirituality urges us to actualise our highest self in the world, pursuing higher levels of consciousness in order to embody them in the here and now.
Happy was the day I discovered my deep longing to be free. It was as if I had woken up to life itself. A dynamic impulse in me longed to conquer every physical and psychological limitation.I reflected on why I was so unhappy with my life, despite my achievements.Something inside me revolted. My life had become a prison, a place of limitations. The frustration of being so irredeemably mediocre obsessed me.This was not self pity, but the pain of being unable to express myself fully,whatever my inadequacies. A wall separated me from the world. I am happy to report I have made great progress, although there are still times when I feel inadequate. However, the difference now is that I am now aware that there is a divine freedom motivating me, driving me forward through layers of resistance. My inner king wants to be free – and this will never change. There will always be pain because this coat of flesh is too small – if it isn’t my personal life that’s too small then it’s my contribution to the world– but I truly believe our outer life is a reflection of our consciousness, which means there is always something we can do to change our circumstances.So, if I’m unhappy with something in my life, I can change my situation by changing the quality of my consciousness. Let me clarify. Whatever we are identified with, this will be reflected in that events happening in our lives.However, most of our identifications are unconscious which means to change our circumstances we must go deep inside our minds to remove old and outgrown identifications in order to master our lives. We are also part of a collective reality; this means that what we meet in the outer world is often a direct reflection of the collective awareness of the people around us. Our task here is to identify with the higher frequencies of the collective consciousness to shift the collective toward World Soul consciousness.
The Delphic maxim “know thyself” relates to the will because we are who we choose to be. The will directs our energies and determines the true expression of our identity. Every choice shapes our character and destiny. We can say that the will is the Soul’s executive power.
Self-knowledge brings power but is difficult to achieve. Our consciousness and identity fluctuates. Who are you really as a man, woman, father, mother,professional, friend, son, daughter, and other roles? But we are not our roles.Our roles are steps towards our ultimate identity, and we cannot do without them, but we are something else. We can call these roles our “stage-selves”– our selves at different stages, which in time lead us to the Soul and the absolute universal Self.
Let me give an example of a false self from my own life concerning gender identity. Our gender identity is influenced by our parents, our earliest role models. Later, during puberty, this identity is tested and develops as we become sexually active. In my own life, I was deeply confused during my teenage years because the role models in my life did not reflect me truly: I was sensitive, taught to hide my feelings, and a bad case of acne made me afraid to approach women and lowered my sense of self as a man. To protect myself, I internalised a stereotypical notion of masculinity based on the idea of the“strong man”. This gave me a socially acceptable identity but left me feeling inferior because it did not provide space for my sensitivity. Adopting my “JohnWayne” persona left me feeling completely alien, and alienated from myself. Only later, after relationships, much meditation and years of psychotherapy, did I realise that women appreciated my sensitivity. Gradually, this recognition dissolved my earlier identifications and I changed. I felt more at home with myself and with women. I started to love myself as a man. There was anew, more creative balance between my action-orientated masculinity and my empathetic, easy-going side.
The dynamic river leads to the path of self-knowledge. When we awaken to deeper aspects of ourselves our sub personalities evolve and we can create a firmer self-image based on our true nature. This will be refined and reshaped as we ascend to higher levels of consciousness, to new values that transcend and integrate previous levels.
Awareness Meditation and the Will
As we know, the will is closely linked to choice. Without choices, we cannot direct our intention towards a goal. When we exercise free choice we access the power of the will. It is true that in some situations our only choice is to accept our destiny. Nevertheless the act of choice is empowering and prevents us from becoming victims. Illness and death are not welcome experiences, but we can choose how to respond to them. As Viktor Frankl shows in Man’s Search for Meaning, even the horrors of a concentration camp can be endured through the power to choose.
But how often are our choices really free? Are we free to choose a different life if we want? For many of us, the answer is no. We are bound by all sorts of attachments that limit our freedom: to people, money, beliefs and convictions.We may be ignorant of our bondage until life challenges us. Most of us change only when something external interferes with our lives: we lose a job, a partner, a home, our status. Meditation can help us recognise our attachments and lack of freedom, and this helps us to change. Practising Awareness Meditation can help us to disidentify from restrictive attachments. Assagioli said: What we identify with, controls us; what we disidentify from, we can learn to master. In his Psychosynthesis model, Assagioli’s offers a dis-identification exercise based on Eastern ideas about consciousness. We’ve already spoken about the self, but let’s look at it again in the context of meditation.
The self is not the voice we hear in our head, analysing everything. We must ignore this if we are to discover consciousness as awareness.
The self is the observer, the calm centre of consciousness. It is from this centre that will and choice arise. By disidentifying from the contents of consciousness and observing them instead, we can learn to access our will and choose what we identify with. Hence Assagioli’s belief that the will is a direct function of the self; the will is the captain on the ship of the self.
If we want to be free to live a life according to our deepest values, we must also have a psychological practice that can help us to become aware of these values. We must recognise the forces that enslave us to an inauthentic way of life, and Awareness Meditation can help us with this. It may sound paradoxical to those who practice Awareness Meditation (mindfulness) that this particular type of meditation is associated with the will, but this meditation can help us to discover our will if we look for it. A traditional Eastern practice teaches us to let go of all striving and all contents of consciousness. We can then experience the self as the observer and pure open consciousness without content.This state seems to be without will, because it is effortless, but in order to disidentify (from the contents of consciousness) we still need to use our will by choosing to let go of our attachment to the contents of consciousness.
All action requires will and choice. Freedom is always limited by the choices we make. Even in a state of pure observation, without effort or focus, there is still the choice to continue meditating or not. This effortless intention is the will: it is the underlying motivation governing the act of withdrawing from the content of consciousness – emptying the mind, as they say. The will does not always exert itself forcefully, just as the captain lets the ship’s engines do the work. But before we can reach a state of effortless intention we need to employ a radical form of Awareness Meditation that demands a tough will that can uphold a clear space in consciousness. Any trained meditator knows this to be a fact.
It makes a difference whether we direct our awareness towards the source of consciousness, the Self, or toward its content. Following the source, we find our inner witness and recognise that we are the awareness running through all existence. This is precisely the intention behind the dynamic river of life: to reveal our true identity.
Let me give an example from my own practice. In 2011 I led a one-day Awareness Meditation workshop. We began by observing the breath – this helps the mind to gradually relax and become quiet, leaving a calm, relaxed presence (I can recommend this practice as very rejuvenating) The next stage involved disidentifying from the body, emotions and mind to recognise that our essential self is something other than these entities. I let the content of my consciousness pass like clouds in the sky, letting go of thoughts and sensations.As my consciousness grew empty, a quiet neutral centre appeared. In this state, when our consciousness has quietened, we are often tempted to do something because the sense of emptiness seems too detached – there is no colour or emotion, only neutral observation. I had experienced this before; Knew my consciousness had not yet transcended my mental field because I still felt myself to be a human being separated from other people. This state is important: through prolonged practice we can create a place of stillness and peace inside; when we disidentify from everything in the mind. In this state we make better choices because we are less affected by fear, desire and other impulses. We start to master our behaviour from this centre, and accept what is and choose to stay with it.
During the third stage we turn our attention to the source of consciousness.Now we observe the observer. The eye cannot see itself, but if we meditate long enough our separate personal consciousness begins to dissolve. During the last hours of the meditation I managed to let go of everything; my awareness rested in an open presence. Then something familiar to anyone who has practised this type of meditation happened: spontaneously my consciousness expanded. It felt like I had escaped from a prison. I was free to join the wider impersonal consciousness because I was released from my mind and personal history. Experiencing no-thing-ness, we have the opportunity to be everything. It is perhaps more accurate to call this expanded presence a “universal presence” because the awareness itself suggests a self that is awake. In any case, the experience of a separate self disappears and we awaken to an expanded, larger self.
The no-thing-ness contains the potential for all possible actions. Yet once we act, our limitations and lack of freedom become obvious. I cannot choose to create a supernova the way Brahman can. I also cannot solve complex mathematical equations, unless I have studied a great deal. Transcendence cannot change these limitations. So even transcendence has its limits. The movement from potential to actual is always one of limits.
Our freedom will always face limitations. Those who withdraw from the world in pursuit of transcendence will achieve only relative freedom because they have given up the freedom to create and manifest their will in the outer world.An old Zen saying illustrates this: “Before enlightenment I chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment I chop wood and carry water.” Transcendence may not make us free to act in the world. Rather we may give up our freedom to act in the world because we consider physical existence an empty illusion.This is not the way of the Bodhisattva, who forgoes nirvana in order to remain on earth to help his fellow beings; he does not seek to escape to heaven from earth, but remains on earth until everybody has become enlightened.
Some so-called enlightened masters have successfully transcended everyday existence, but they still had to live a personal life in the world, and some have done so in a manner that lacks ethics and integrity. Such people might have experienced freedom and detachment, but psychologically they were immature and unable to manifest this freedom in the form of physical action.Enlightenment is a relative concept with different aspects to it: it partly involves transcending the world, but it can also mean bringing God, with in all his might, into the world.
In the experience of timeless being we still retain an “I”. The feeling of “I” is always present. I experience it as an indefinable golden thread which stays constant throughout my life. The perspective of who I am changes, but the timeless “I” does not. In my meditation I wanted to explore this transcendent state. I looked into the void and examined if I really should be free of will.While passive, there was no apparent will beyond the intention to meditate.But as soon as I contemplated action, a dynamic force emerged – a psychological electricity – urgent and full of meaning. I realised that I could not do whatever I liked in life; I could not go against the strong sense of purpose and meaning emanating from this electric force field.
I could not choose to live a different life. My life with all its restrictions was perfect as it was, and I could sense a powerful will that wanted to incarnate as“me”. Through this life, my “I” can be liberated, set free to manifest the wisdom,love and light my experiences could provide. The suffering I experience is entirely impersonal; the higher order at work is far more significant. Each Soul’s journey is important to the whole of humanity; each Soul participates in the redemption and resurrection of humankind. My personal will is a point of life and a dynamic intention that travels through time and space. In Eastern terminology, I had an experience of Jiva Atman, what we call the Soul.
Is there anything beyond this transcendent emptiness? Is nirvana the last stop? I was able to recognise that the experience of the Soul’s will is clearly a contraction, and therefore operating at a lower frequency of consciousness, but I can’t say what lies beyond it. However, many esoteric sources suggest nirvana is only a step on the way to higher levels of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo, a great enlightened Soul and one of my main sources of inspiration, describes his experience of nirvana and its underlying levels as follows:
“Now to reach nirvana was the first radical result of my own Yoga. It threw me suddenly into a condition above and without thought, unstained by any mental or vital movement; there was no ego, no real world – only when one looked through the immobile senses, something perceived or bore upon its sheer silence a world of empty forms, materialised shadows without true substance…I lived in that nirvana day and night before it began to admit other things into itself or modify itself at all, and the inner heart of experience, a constant memory of it and its power to return remained until in the end it began to disappear into a greater Superconsciousness from above. But meanwhile realisation added itself to realisation and fused itself with this original experience. At an early stage the aspect of an illusionary world gave place to one in which illusion is only a small surface phenomenon with an immense Divine Reality behind it and a supreme Divine Reality above it and an intense Divine Reality in the heart of everything that had seemed at first only a cinematic shape or shadow.” (Sri Aurobindo, On Himself, p. 101)
Aurobindo’s description resonates deeply with me. I am convinced there is a divine source behind creation. This raises the question of what it means to be enlightened. An enlightenment that only involves transcendence seems partial to me. If there is only one Self, and the same consciousness looking out from my eyes is also looking out from yours, then enlightenment will remain partial until all sentient beings are enlightened. Seen absolutely, individual enlightenment may be an illusion. But not individually, and here evolution is relevant. Evolution shows that all human beings are of equal value, but all are not equally developed, ie in terms of the degree of love-wisdom a person has realised.
The will is associated with death. According to esoteric sources, when the universe collapses and goes into pralaya – a period of unmanifested rest – it is because its source, the cosmic Logos, wills it so. It withdraws the life energy from the cosmos which then collapses and dissolves into its component parts. The same process happens when we die. The Soul draws back the consciousness and life energy from the physical body and the physical form perishes.The process of transformation is governed by the same principle. When we decide to stop a bad habit or leave a relationship, we withdraw the energy from the habit or relationship and it dies. Desires linked to the relationship or habit gradually dissolve. This can be painful but it will eventually release us from the attachment.
This is the way of the will. It shows that we keep something alive by giving it our attention, consciously or unconsciously. If we take life away from whatever no longer serves our higher purpose, it dies. I like the metaphor of “the will swinging the axe” because it shows the will’s ability to swiftly cut away constraints. In practice it is very difficult to drop old habits without the support of psychotherapeutic techniques. Many habits hide behind defences and we do not see them during Awareness Meditation. Nevertheless, Awareness Meditation is invaluable for eliminating destructive desires and unhelpful behaviours. It shows us that we suffer when we cannot fulfil our desires, but it also reveals the impermanence of our desires. I am not a Buddhist, but the wisdom of the Buddha is fundamental to integral meditation.
Awareness Meditation leads to the development of three qualities, which esoteric philosophy identifies as detachment, dispassion and discrimination:the three Ds.
By letting go of desires, we achieve detachment. We do this by disidentifying from the attachments we recognise in meditation. Gradually we find the quiet and open centre, leading to transcendent awareness. This is freedom from.
Dispassion means that we are not controlled by our desires. We can enjoy them without being engulfed by them. Desire is a powerful force that can be put to creative use. It can be a source of pleasure if we learn how to enjoy our desires without being used by them. Desire, or passion, is a focused energy that we can experience as sexual energy or the devotional surrender to the divine. Our task is to cultivate our desires, to accustom them to a taste for higher qualities and values.
We learn how to discriminate by observing the energies arising in meditation.We can free ourselves from desires by breaking them down into their constituent parts. Jealousy, for example, consists of greed, anger and ignorance. By consciously observing a desire, we can examine its essence and understand its function and see how it is restricting our freedom. Then we can let it go.
I have spent hours contemplating some of my painful reactions to life, especially my tendency to isolation. In my case, layers of self-protection had crystallised around hatred, anger, hurt, ignorance, self pity, despair and, underneath them all, vulnerability. Awareness Meditation uncovers these element sand prescribes the psychological medicine necessary to cure the condition.In my case, I discovered that beauty and the qualities of grace, harmony and lightness could lead me away from a negative tendency to seek isolation.
Beauty defeats all my defence mechanisms, allowing the vulnerable core to meet the beloved. Beauty is an important part of the creative visualisation techniques used in meditating on the creative river of life. Given integral meditation practice this makes sense; it shows how different problems require different kinds of meditation.
What is the role of the will here? The answer is inner freedom. Awareness Meditation can lead to greater inner freedom, but not by itself. The will must be combined with other techniques before true freedom in action can be realised.
Power Meditation and Dynamic Meditation
In Chapter 2, we examined the consciousness bridge, which is a channel of pure consciousness connecting self and Soul. But it is also a bridge of being and life through which we can experience our I-Am-ness: identity without interpretation.In fact, the consciousness bridge keeps the incarnated part of the Soul alive and can recognise itself as a divine being. The Soul’s greatest task is to strengthen this contact so that the being-life connection can develop in the personality. Life and being are both an expression of the dynamic river of life which directs us toward our ultimate identity.
Meditation aimed at developing the consciousness aspect of this bridge strengthens the contact between self and Soul and gives greater clarity and insight into ourselves and our life purpose. This is accomplished through Awareness Meditation, with its focus on the observer. In relation to strengthening the life aspect of this channel, many forms of meditation are effective here, particularly in strengthening what we can call “standing power”: the ability to stay centred in our hearts no matter what. Through standing power we are able to rest in a sense of being which gives an intuitive knowledge of our divine inner nature. Standing power gives us access to dignity, nobility and the integrity we can connect to by serving a purpose that is grand, noble and mighty. This being-life bridge links the heart centre, the cave in the middle of the brain, the heart of the Soul’s presence above the head, and the heart of the great solar being, the creator of our solar system (there are also other minor “stations” or points along this energy channel).
My understanding of standing power grew out of the practice with my “sun in the heart” meditation. When we meditate on the sun in the heart (ignoring the vertical connection with the sun above the head and beyond), we can learn to hold whatever emerges in our consciousness. (As mentioned earlier,we can also use this meditation to focus on developing particular Soul qualities.However, note we don’t connect to the vertical masculine energies if we don’t incorporate the vertical aspect of this meditation.)
I have used the vertical meditation for many years now. I call it the “Power Meditation” or the “I am who I am meditation” (see Appendix). You visualise the sun in the heart. Then you raise the sun’s golden energy up to the sun in the head, and then to the sun over your head. You can even extend this energy to the heart of the great divine sun. When the connection between all the points is established, depending on your typology, you can anchor your awareness in the heart or the head centre (the heart develops its contact with Soul through the calm emotional field, the mind through the still mental field). I personally tend to focus in the mind, with a being connection in the heart that operates as the base or foundation for the meditation. In the next stage of the meditation, we rest into the phrase “I am who I am”. Without thinking about the words, we maintain the intention to merge with this inner identity. The key word here is identity – with a focus on the will. We explore our identity as it opens to the source, the divine core of the Soul. We must keep alert, open and alive during the entire meditation because this allows us to sink deeper into the silence, the inner source of power and strength. Here we are able to surrender to our true nature, which in essence is the One Self,full of life and creative power.
Such meditation strengthens our sense of authentic identity. Archetypal images may emerge, showing us the ideal model our Soul seeks to achieve through our personality. I’ve even received two images simultaneously: one for the perfection of my personality, another showing my Soul’s goal in this incarnation. This latter had a name and was associated with the image of a yogi. This image was so charged with intention that I was compelled to meditate on it until I understood my mission and my identity. Such images ignite our dedication and determination, but they also set very high standards which demand complete dedication to achieve. Without the heart’s burning aspiration we cannot get far in this meditation.
Standing power represents the Soul’s sovereignty and, as with all kings, the Soul has a sceptre: the spine. The spine conducts life energy from its base to the Soul above our head, the spine carries the Soul’s intention to control the forces of our personality, to introduce the law of the Soul and the power of its will. Power Meditation literally strengthens our backbone so we can say no to desires, fears and to people and situations that diminish us. Life will test us to see if we can stay the course and stick to our truth. We may fall, but our standing power will enable us to rise again. Our standing power provides the courage and persistence to affirm the good, the true and the beautiful, even if this means painful sacrifices.
The mature will is ready to sacrifice whatever is necessary to achieve its objectives,even to kill what was once loved. This is not easy. Anyone who has tried to leave a dysfunctional relationship, or stop a bad habit, knows this.Our intention may be strong, but there is always the inclination to carry on as before. As we know, the spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak.
The Dynamic Meditation aims to develop the extroverted pole of the will,which is the will’s break-through power. Increasing our standing power develops the will’s introverted pole. Dynamic power breaks through whatever stands in the way of new life. The new life in nature that we see appearing in the spring is a symbol of our own spiritual power which can liberate us from old habits, from slavery to fear, and from old desires.We can see how the two poles of the will work together: we first break-through, then we stand firm on our decision. Or we slowly build up our intention and then actualise it.
Given the many limitations we face, the power to break through is essential. It gives us the strength to claim new territories, to realise our talents and potentials.This capacity for directed will, together with the heart’s redeeming love,has been central to my own development. I’ve often had to force myself to think bigger, to pull myself up by my hair, as it were. The sense of inadequacy and inferiority that characterised my life was like a clammy fog extinguishing a heroic flame. Its advice to “be satisfied” and “fly no higher than the wings can carry you” justified taking no risks and the acceptance of a dull life. The acceptance of mediocrity and bland normality is the greatest obstacle to the living force of Spirit.
Nothing has ever been given to me, or so it seems. I used to lament this fact,but now I appreciate it. Working hard to achieve a goal makes us capable of creating something solid from scratch. Desert landscapes and barren rocks represent great natural beauty for me. To conquer life despite all obstacles is a basic impulse. We have many goals. We may desire more money or the love of someone; we may want to explore our sexuality, or have greater influence at work. To achieve these goals requires courage and the will to maintain an intention strong enough to overcome fear and laziness. Intention means inner tension; it is a force that accumulates before it is released. We all know the feeling of momentum that follows a decision. When we say A, we must follow with B, and it is from here that the action starts. We then find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, facing the unknown and the loss of what has been abandoned.But there is also the vitality of our courage, its boldness and will to freedom. Through our will to freedom we realize that we are far greater than we believed. Daring is the prerequisite of heroism. Not Hollywood heroism,but that of everyday life; the heroism of an oppressed woman who finds the courage to leave her abusive husband. When we fight for greater freedom in our lives, we are heroes. We are often afraid of this uncompromising urge because we fear that it may kill us, but what really dies is the small part of ourselves that is not up to the challenge. It is, in fact, through this death that we can move on.
An Eastern teacher describes the Dynamic Meditation as “intense focus, the overwhelming determination that eliminates all barriers and literally forces a channel”. Through the dynamic will the world becomes our oyster. We can project our consciousness towards our goals. The Dynamic Meditation always begins with the mind’s targeted focus. In the world of the personality, the mind is the will’s primary tool. We can apply our directed focus in different ways, depending on our purpose.
During one Dynamic Meditation, the will to manifest my vision for establishing a network of meditation schools (mentioned earlier) was so strong that I felt I had been pushed through a channel at the top of my head into a cosmic force field. I have also used the Dynamic Meditation to eliminate unwanted emotions. This technique consists of “staring” the emotion or situation “in the eyes” to drive it out of my energy field. (I should say that it helps if you have had experience in energy work.) This must be done correctly, otherwise it will only repress the material, which will return even stronger at a later date.
A few years ago I was hit by strong feelings of inadequacy, self pity and despair that emanated directly from my solar plexus. It was unusual for me to feel self pity so I was anxious to rid myself of it. I meditated in order to understand and eliminate this condition. This decision alone developed a force in me,a strong intention to be free. I observed the condition and found its source in the solar plexus. A hole in my energy system had allowed in a stream of self pity, despair and “wet” sensitivity, as if someone outside of me wanted to force weakness into me. Once I discovered this pressure, I stared it in the eyes intensely, focusing all the strength of my Soul on this invader as if I was throwing an intruder out of my house. Gradually the weakness left. I closed the gap in my energy field, then located the part of me that had opened this gap (when negative energies enter us, some part of us has allowed them in).This illustration of how I managed to fix a personal problem by drawing upon a number of different meditation techniques is illustrative of how integral meditation works.
In the Appendix you will find an example of Dynamic Meditation which can be used by readers who want to develop their break-through energy. The meditator begins by defining his purpose. He may want to focus on a particular quality that he would like to develop, such as beauty, freedom, courage or love. Or he may focus on an object, such as an image or a thought, which he wishes to understand. Then the meditator penetrates into the heart of what is desired in three stages. The first stage involves remaining disidentified from the object of meditation and all associated thoughts, ideas and feelings. The second stage involves entering into the quality of what is desired, merging with it while continuing to penetrate its essence. In the third stage, the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation in a state of non-duality.
In his book The Act of Will, Assagioli describes different kinds of will:strong, good and skilful. Strong will is the one-pointed dynamic force we have discussed above. Good will is motivated by love and is holistic and collaborative. Skilful will is strategic, like that used by a chess player. The combination of these three wills makes for effective action. Assagioli’s also distinguishes between personal, transpersonal and universal will, with each relating to different levels of consciousness. Ultimately there’s only one will, the universal will that arises from Spirit-in-Action.
We can say that Dynamic Meditation suits all who need to strengthen their identity and achieve a breakthrough of some sort.
We should study all the dynamic river’s positive qualities, yet we need to remember that if we are not mature enough to handle the energies there can be unwanted consequences. Energy is impersonal; playing with it foolishly is inadvisable.Sensitive, mental and creative types should pursue this meditation because they often lack direction and “break though” power. Others, who do not need this, should perhaps leave it alone. For example, this meditation will of course appeal to dynamic types, as this is their primary style of personality.However, for these types, it might be wise to work with less strenuous forms of meditation, focusing instead on the sensitive, creative and idealistic rivers of life. This is because wills that are already tough can arouse resistance in those around them, so some softening of the will, rather than strengthening,might be desirable.
Will is important, yet the will alone cannot lead us to our journey’s end. We must enter other rivers, some of them formed out of much gentler waters.