This week we have a post from Dick, a meditator living in Reno, Nevada. Dick shares how he sees his long practice of the eight points come alive in his new hobby of magic.
I was introduced to the eight-point program in 1992. I was in an unusually high stress job. I had been using TM after work for ten years and that was some help. One day I returned to my office and found a paperback book, entitled “Meditation,” on my desk. I asked my secretary where it came from and she said “the new doctor.” We had just hired a new civilian doctor. It was a while before I learned that he had a famous meditator as a patient, Eknath Easwaran!
When I picked up the book, I noted that the first chapter was called “Meditation.” Hey, I already was an expert, so I moved to the second, “The Mantram.” I was skeptical, but I read it and promptly forgot about it. A few days later, we had a particularly difficult situation to deal with. My mind was racing. I decided to try a mantram walk. On the way out the door, I selected my mantram, “Jesus,” and walked repeating it for 30 minutes or so. The problem did not go away but it was a lot easier to consider options with a clearer, stiller mind.
I was hooked and never did TM again! Hello Passage Meditation!
About two years ago, I saw an ad advertising a magic lesson and decided to consider becoming a magician. As I learn more and more about magic, I see more and more of the eight point program.
Mantrams are very common in magic and are magical. Abracadabra and “the magic words” come to mind. Amazing things happen when the magic words (and mantram) are uttered! At my age, falling asleep and waking in the middle of the night are often challenges. I’ve tried abracadabra to no avail, but the mantram is truly magical in these situations.
The best magic is slow magic. It takes more skill to do an illusion slowly and slow increases the credibility of your audience. If you do something too quickly, most will wonder what you are trying to hide.
My favorite 8PP memory of slowing down was someone telling me about a doctor in an ER. That environment seems impossible for slowing down in a crisis, but no matter how fast the hands are moving, a slow mind is an effective ally.
Putting the audience first. Most magicians talk about their tricks. Early on I read an article about appreciating your audience and not looking down on them by calling what you did 'tricking' them. I have since tried to call what I do illusions. It is hard not to slip, but I rarely do.
Putting others first was a big challenge! The word “doormat” kept coming up in my mind. Now I work hard to change the wording a little - “putting the welfare of others first.” A lot of help for me! Teaching online is a challenge. My students are all working adults with families and all the time challenges of our society. It is often tempting to allow extra time for work based on easily avoidable crises. I’ve found that there is a good lesson in holding to deadlines, which I consider putting their welfare first rather than the easier road of unenforced due dates.
Stop buying stuff, train the senses. The world of magic is full of temptations! Ads, videos and other magicians are always showing you the next great thing! It is a wonderful fantasy to imagine performing it. I’ve adopted “will this work for and enhance my act?” as a test.
Training the senses, outside of magic, is probably my biggest challenge. I am a fan of contemporary food and entertainment. First step in this direction was becoming a vegetarian. That is the foundation for training my taste buds - no meat and hardly any sugar or alcohol. Entertainment is a bit more of a challenge, especially violence in movies. When socializing takes a priority over avoidance, I follow EE’s advice and close my eyes when necessary.
Total focus. A magician cannot let his or her mind wander. Personal safety, the safety of others and the ability to execute an illusion well depend on total focus. You want to let your eyes guide the audience to what you want them to be watching, not some sleight of hand happening elsewhere.
One-pointed attention. Where do I start in this world of multi-tasking? Like most, I have a smartphone but I NEVER let it distract my attention. When I use it, it has my full attention, whether talking or texting. When I am doing something else, I ignore it until I can give it my one-pointed attention.
Magical Companionship. One of the unexpected benefits of magic! New friends: Justin Impossible, The Great Merlinski, Dr. D.V. Us, and Bizarro to name a few. Also two clubs: High Sierra Magic Circle and Washoe Wizards. Like meditators, magicians are very helpful by sharing their experiences and gimmicks. Unlike meditators, all magicians have a secret or two they will never share.
Spiritual Companionship has always been a major part of my 8PP. I did some work with the eSatsang for over a decade. I was one of the original members of the NYC Satsang. When we moved to South Florida and did not find a satsang, I helped get one started. I was delighted to find one in place when we moved to Reno. It started up two months before our arrival. There has to be some magic in that - thank you Mary and Dan! There is nothing like spending time with fellow meditators!
Magic reading. My magic teacher says magic is 10-20% technique and the rest presentation. While the contexts and tools of magic have evolved significantly over the years, the foundation of presentation is relatively the same. These tools are best learned from the writings about the past masters, Houdini, Harry Blackstone, Dai Vernon and Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, to name a few. Timeless wisdom is a valuable asset for any magician.
Spiritual reading provides tools for how we present ourselves during the rest of the day. The great mystics faced most of the same challenges that we do and we can learn from their successes and failures in the wonderful world of the literature of the mystics!
Wait, that is only seven…something is missing…
Yes, Meditation is Magic!
My first career was 34 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. One of the highlights was commanding the training center located just off the road between Ramagiri and Petaluma. My second career is as a university professor. As the latter winds down, I have started a new career in magic. My audiences are family, friends and a special group of seniors at a daycare center in Reno. My magic is a gift, I will never accept payment for performing.
Ever since I welcomed the eight-point program in my life, it has become a part of almost everything I do and made everything I do better. Thank you, Eknath Easwaran!