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Transcendence During CMR

by Sasha
(Tel-Aviv, Israel)

First of all, I would like to express my thanks for the fact you're running this site and offering the CMR course to everybody. I registered to your course and have been practicing for almost a week.

I feel it's a little early for me to write a feedback about the overall effects of CMR, but I'll gladly do so when the time comes - if I have anything interesting to write.

Meanwhile, there are two questions I would like to ask about CMR. (Here is the first one.)

I think that during my practices so far, my mind reached quite deep states of relaxation, nevertheless I didn't experience anything "extraordinary". I know that, and as you stressed quite a few times - I need not expect anything, or assume anything during CMR practice. Yet, I have also seen a few places where you implicitly compare your technique to TM, which to the best of my knowledge is indeed intended to lead to a state of transcendence / trance.

My question is - even if I don't expect anything concrete to happen in my practice, is it expected that EVENTUALLY (after some period of practice - say, weeks or months), CMR will also lead me to that state? Or, if after a given time of practice (you name it) I still don't reach some state, would it be correct to say that CMR does not work for me "as it should have"?


The Purpose Of Life Is The Expansion of Happiness


Gavin's Answer

The state of 'transcendence' as discussed in TM circles, and in TM literature and promotional material, is not a state of 'trance', as some anti-TM lobbyists try to portray it. Transcendental consciousness is simply a term used to refer to a state of consciousness or awareness where one is awake and conscious, but where thoughts have been transcended or gone beyond. It is being awake without having thoughts ... being aware without being aware of anything -- just being conscious. As soon as you are aware of being in a particular state of consciousness, you are in fact not in transcendental consciousness. You are in a state of being aware of something --- i.e. you’re in the normal waking state, or somewhere between thoughts and stillness.

When you are in deep sleep you cannot comprehend a state of dreaming. Your consciousness has assumed a non-conscious state. And when you are dreaming, that is your temporary reality. That is all you can comprehend, all you can experience. To appreciate a 'higher' reality, what we might call a 'real' life situation, you have to emerge from that lower state of consciousness into the waking state. From the waking state we can look back and say, oh, that was only a dream. Now I am awake I see things as they really are.

Transcendental consciousness is yet another state more refined than waking consciousness. If you think of deep sleep as being a state of consciousness where there is nothing that you are conscious of, then transcendence is likewise a state in which there is nothing to be conscious of. You are simply conscious. You’re not asleep; you are awake.

During Conscious Mental Rest, only when you have been without thoughts and objects of awareness can you say, oh, I must have been in the 'transcendent'. But even then, you don't have a benchmark to determine that ... except ... and here is an indicator. When you have been in your CMR session for a while, and it feels as if you must have been sitting there for about 5 or 10 minutes, and you look at a watch and are surprised that 20 minutes has elapsed, that would suggest that you were awake and aware for 20 minutes, of which you can only 'account' for about 10 minutes. The remainder of the time you were aware but without mind content.

One term that some systems use in their descriptions is the word "bliss". The transcendent is sometimes referred to as bliss consciousness. This can be misleading, because it implies that everyone who 'transcends' (goes beyond) thinking will know so because they experience pure bliss, and that it is a tangible experience, possibly with fanfare and bright lights.

This is not a ‘given’. It all depends on the state of our nervous system, and what stresses we have inside us. Often such experiences are nothing more that stress release taking place. So don't focus on what might happen, and when it might happen. Let those ideas go in favour of innocence.

Promises of bliss consciousness and pure consciousness do tend to create expectations that serve no purpose whatsoever. Firstly, they can lead to effort during one’s session, in order to ‘do it right’ and gain those states. Even the slightest effort interferes with the natural process of CMR (and of TM, for that matter). Promises certainly can build hope and keep the person meditating diligently for the enlightenment they hope to reach one day. But those ideals and expectations can also (and have with many people) led to disappointment, even disillusionment.

Conscious Mental Rest is used for what it brings in day-to-day living. People who follow the CMR instructions to the letter have reported that they do experience real changes in their lives. We are not at all concerned with what may or may not 'happen' during the session. We simply know that our intention is to allow the mind to rest from its incessant babbling.

For such mental rest to occur, all we do is see that we don't consciously enliven the mind by giving our attention to the mind's content. But we don’t try to control the mind to prevent that. Instead, when we realize that we have been or are indeed currently involved in thinking - which has captured our attention - at that point we choose to collect our attention back to the comfort zone and then let go in innocence. That is all.

Back to your question... Or, if after a given time of practice (you name it) I still don't reach some state, would it be correct to say that CMR does not work for me "as it should have"? No, it would not mean that. The only criterion for knowing whether CMR has worked for you is whether you feel any benefits in your life outside your CMR sessions. If not, re-learn the process and see what happens in your life. The changes are subtle, yet sustained.

The bottom line: forget about what happens or doesn't happen during your CMR sessions. See how you experience your life in activity. That is what it is all about. If you still feel unsure, you could go through the course instructions again, including the e-mail follow-ups. Also, feel free to post any further questions at this forum.

All the best,
Gavin


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