Friday, November 13, 2015
Just yesterday a fellow contacted me because he was in pain and he had heard that meditation could relieve suffering, but after trying it, he said it didn't work.
This is a very common experience and I certainly had it myself early on in my training. People are often mislead by just the word meditation and then their expectations can take them further astray. The word meditation is often used as if it had one commonly known meaning. It doesn't and a lot of confusion occurs because of this.
Sometimes the word meditation is used to refer to a particular practice - sitting, walking, breath, mantra, mindfulness, etc., which are all different even though they share some common elements.
At other times the word meditation is used to describe a process. It's a process of change that occurs through meditation. "Meditation makes me so relaxed." "Meditation lowers my blood pressure." Certainly one aspect of meditation is the process of change and transformation that occurs both during the immediate practice of meditation, as well as cumulatively over time as one repeatedly practices meditation. Most of the scientific research on meditation focuses on the measurable dimensions of these change processes.
There are immeasurable dimensions of meditation that go undiscussed in scientific literature simply because they can't be quantified, in fact they may not even be able to be spoken of - meaning the experiences can't be encoded by the very limited nature of words. They are ineffable. That doesn't make them unknowable.
In science we have instruments of measurement and observation which are very useful. At the same time, each of us possesses the power to know, the power of Consciousness, which goes beyond scientific instruments.
To directly know the extraordinary dimensions of meditation requires fully entering the state of meditation. Here we are on dangerous ground for the mind as we try to approach what is beyond the mind and beyond words with words! It's good to remember the old Zen saying, "don't confuse the finger for the moon." Words may point at the state of meditation but they aren't the state of meditation, nor will all the words of all the sages of all traditions ever communicate a full description of meditation. There is no substitute for the direct experience of the state of meditation; upon this all traditions agree.
In the deep state of meditation the mind, words, sense of self, all agitations and cravings are extinguished. The 8th century poet sage Li Po wrote "We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains." This goes far beyond the stress management or health and fitness models of meditation which are so popular. It's not for everyone. Entering the portal into meditation is entering the cloud of unknowing
What is unknowing for the mind is the pure knowing of the One.
The mind belongs to the waking and dream states.
Meditation is the eternal state of the One, the Source, pure, unbounded, Self-effulgent Consciousness, your true nature.
May the light of meditation illumine your way.
Lawrence Edwards, PHD