As you may know, when someone is faced with an extreme situation, and they can accept it fully without any resistance, there is a possibility of a natural feeling of liberation and self-realization, or Satori, as it is known in the Zen tradition.
In a lecture by Alan Watts, he describes a Zen master in Germany in the 1950’s who opened up a meditation center after the war. This man primarily dealt with soldiers who had come back, sometimes traumatized, sometimes just not sure about how to deal with some of the experiences they had lived through.
Imagine you could hear the whine of a bomb flying through the air, coming right for the camp you were stationed at, or a grenade flew into the window of the room you were in. You knew, absolutely, without any sense of doubt that you would die, and you accepted it. Suddenly, you would be enveloped by an overwhelming sense of liberation and wellbeing, as if everything in the universe were exactly where it needed to be, and nothing could have ever gone wrong anyways. You would see there is nothing you could have done about life in the first place, but paradoxically, you would also see there is nothing you couldn’t have done about life as well. Everything was exactly as it should be, in absolute and total perfection.
And then, for whatever reason, the missile would fall through your roof, or the grenade would crash through the window, roll across the floor right to your feet, and just sit there. This inner transformation would happen to you in the course of only a few seconds, and it would have felt like a lifetime, but all it took was a few seconds, because it’s all you had before the explosion. Only, for whatever reason, the grenade was a dud. The missile fell in through the roof, and stuck in your floor, and that was all it did. No explosion, no fire, just a faulty bomb sitting in front of you.
So what happened to these people? Well, most of the people these soldiers had talked to had told them they were in shock, or were suffering from massive traumatic stress, but this Zen master was helping them learn that this was one of the only actual moments in which they had really experienced themselves. They were able to grasp the impermanence of life and our Ego, and let go completely, getting a glimpse of what life was all about. Only by understanding and accepting our death can we move beyond the constructs of who we think we are, get out of our own Ego, and come to experience life as it is beyond the words and labels we use to confine it into a convenient box. Breaking down and seeing past the ego allowed a greater receptivity to the harmony of life.
So today, I’m throwing you the Meditation Grenade. Will you die alone in the darkness, or glimpse through the veil and see the light, allowing this inner transformation to show you the interconnectedness of everything? Last chance….