A basic meditation routine, or even better a more substantial one, is essential for successful living. No matter who you are or what your endeavor is, the way our world is currently, and the way we have to be in the world, this whole process of living is uniquely challenging, a special set of circumstances humanity hasn’t really encountered before. Wanting to focus on meditation, and not make a long list of these unique circumstances, I point you to the major global events of 2011 and some of the interpretive posts about them you can find on this blog by clicking through to this compilation.
Through the ages, meditation has always brought great benefits to the human condition. Remember that meditation has been around since well before the time of the Buddha, stretching way back into antiquity. Today, it probably holds the greatest benefits for us than it ever has.
Meditation practice predates Buddhism and all of the world religions. It has lasted through the centuries because it is direct, potent, and effective. — Sakyong Mipham
In meditation, what we’re doing is looking at our experience and at the world intelligently. — Sakyong Mipham
What is intelligence? On one level it’s what an IQ test reveals. Intelligence doesn’t end there. It moves into knowing, wisdom, intuition, and clear-heartedness. Without these forms of intelligence we’re nothing but math geeks or some kind of super efficient robots. Intelligence includes our humanity, which includes our spirituality.
For a short while the immortal ray of light that is our soul wears a perishable mortal garment…but for all eternity the soul is sustained by the Infinite Source of that light. The more we meditate, the more we feel that consciousness. And the less we meditate, the less able we are to transcend identification with the little self—so many pounds of flesh encasing a limited mind bound by sense perceptions to the troublesome environs of the world. We have to get to the Self beyond its physical and mental instrumentalities to realize we are not fragile mortal beings…
— Daya Mata
The human mind, normally equated with the brain by neuroscience, is limited. As Sakyong Mipham puts it, “Meditation is based on the premise that the natural state of the mind is calm and clear.” This is the knowledge that our various wisdom traditions have imparted. There’s the daily mind, and a higher mind with greater discernment, accessing wisdom and knowing.
This level of mind is termed buddhi in Sanskrit, from the root bud which means ‘to perceive’ or ‘to become awake.’ This form of intelligence discerns the true and the real from the false and the unreal. As Matthieu Ricard says, “It is through this unconditioned aspect of consciousness that we can transform the content of mind through training.” That training is meditation. Otherwise we remain in manas, or ‘outer,’ ‘sense’ mind, which is on the surface and handles impressions.
Here are a couple of more perspectives to help understand this:
Our minds are field-like, they are not confined to our brain. — Rupert Sheldrake
The conscious mind fails to grasp that which lies beyond the spheres of time, space, and causation. — Swami Rama
Pure consciousness without content is something all those who meditate regularly and seriously have experienced… — Matthieu Ricard
That “content” is the stuff of personality, the not-so-fun stuff! We want to move from content to substance. The substance of eternals like compassion, peace, and wisdom.
We’re also dealing with a paradox. There’s the real nature of the mind, and the mind we’re stuck with every day. There’s our humanness, then there’s our divinity. Leonard Jacobson puts it well: “We are on a journey of becoming that which we already are. That is the impossible paradox of our lives.” It’s not really impossible. It feels impossible until we get informed and empowered, and put into place a set of practices, the primary of these being meditation.
Meditation transcends time, the senses, and the subject-object relationships. By transcending these three, meditation takes us beyond the intellectual or rational level of consciousness. It is like looking through a screen; on one side of consciousness is all existence—thoughts, emotions, negativity, and our life patterns; on the other side is a very fine energy level—a deep meditative state.
— Tarthang Tulku
Meditation is a first-person experience. It’s not looking at the world in the third-person. It’s not trying to understand our inner workings in the third-person. The first-person realm of meditation is holistic. It doesn’t cut reality up into pieces. It doesn’t need to understand how the brain works, to improve the workings of one’s mind. In meditation what’s known as the discursive mind can be disengaged. This is the mind that rambles. It’s unable to settle, to find its own depth. It remains on the surface, distracted and can’t get to the essence of things.
Whether it’s understood in terms of mind or being, our minds and our beings have a place that is calm and abiding. Calm abiding lives within us. It’s always there. There’s no app for it. There’s nothing to install. There is, however, an uncovering.
We have to uncover this lost place through meditation, and the application of meditative insight and orientation in daily living. Calm abiding is lost underneath all our pettiness, delusions and neuroses. The rational mind and the five senses informing it in their regular mode, give us only a partial and incorrect view of reality. This view keeps us trapped and attached. We’re operating within a limited informational field in daily living. In meditation, we have access to an informational field that penetrates the heart of reality.
It’s only from this wider and deeper field that we can make choices and decisions about how to best live, and to actually live well. It’s from this same field that we can positively influence the current state of affairs on our planet, and ensure a multi-generational sustainability of living and social systems.
When we talk about the techniques of meditation, these are techniques of life. — Sakyong Mipham
Meditation is a vast subject. Here’s some related material to help you with it. You may also add your input or ask questions in comments below. Often, answers tailored to your questions about meditation are the best way to get help with meditation.
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