way of meditation
We think of meditation as a spiritual practice. It is that, but it is also a very natural aspect of our human mind. When a composer is intent on creating a musical piece, when a mathematician is absorbed in a complex calculation, when a mechanic is concentrating on fixing an engine, the mind becomes one-pointed in its focus. We can become literally deaf and blind to all else but what we are doing. Someone can speak directly to us and we will not even notice them. That is meditation.
Some use the practice of meditation to quiet the mind and relax the body. That is also a useful exercise and another of the natural applications for the meditative capacity of the human mind-body life.
Meditation, is the resolute and deliberate skill of focusing the mind. Whether it has any spiritual value or not is dependent on that on which it is focused. Even many of the so-called spiritual practices are actually directed at acquiring occult skills, or getting paranormal experiences which, of course, if achieved simply strengthen the ego-self which would be attached to the newly developed skills.
Often people speak of the powers of the “spiritual” or the “mystical”. By this they mean the abilities of telepathy, telekenesis, astral travel, clairvoyance, or other powers. In fact all of these have nothing to do with the spiritual or the mystical. These are occult powers which actually make progress on the spiritual path more difficult because they entangle one even more deeply and tightly into identification with ones ego-self. They do not wear away the ego-self and thus they weaken, rather than strengthen the living spirit by cutting it off from the well-spring of That eternal and uncreated Truth which is life itself as such.
Others want to gain “spiritual” experiences through meditation – such as seeing visions, or hearing music from the spiritual dimension, communicating with spirits, etc. The spiritual dimension is merely an extension of the material. Experiences there may be exciting and novel, but it is no closer to ultimate Reality than is the mundane dimension we experience in daily life. These experiences also don’t free the spirit and have no effect whatever in diminishing the ego-self.
The eye of the moth is developed to guide it by the light of the moon. When it is instead distracted by something so close as a porch light, it’s natural guidance system mistakenly takes it in every tightening orbits until it is bashing itself against the light itself. The ability of the mind to focus, when directed toward lesser goals, will just cause us to circle in on ourselves and never reach that ultimate place of the soul’s awakening.
Meditation can, however, be engaged for the purpose of directly transforming consciousness. With practice, the skills of meditation can be developed to much greater levels. The development of the meditation ability requires a committed dedication of resources. One must set aside and prepare an appropriate place for meditation, must schedule a regular time to meditate and must keep to that schedule.
Milton said “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” Meditation is a discipline and practices which reconfigure the mind, redistribute its resources, its intentions, its motivations. Meditation in and of itself, has the capacity to transform our experience of life.
There are many methods and techniques that are used for focusing the mind. As mentioned, the key is that on which your focus it. One can use a word or phrase, or bring an image to mind. For example: create a mental image of an infinite living ocean of light; imagine yourself as a drop in that ocean, and then imagine yourself relinquishing your ego-self and becoming part of that surging, flowing light from which all things arise, to which all return.
Some try to simply still the thoughts of the mind by repeating a phrase or word. There are different words or phrases that are suggested in each of the different religions to be a point of focus for the mind. The idea is not to think about the word or phrase but to allow that to fill the mind so that thinking stops and the spirit is freed from thinking to experience that which has always been there but has been hidden behind all the thoughts and activities of the mind. The spirit can begin to experience the eternal Self of all selves, the One Beloved of all hearts, the universal and self-existent Truth of all that is.
But one can also meditate on one of the many names of God; choose the one that awakens the heart with delight so that you are drawn to want to repeat it. Again, the intent focus of the mind takes you in the direction on which you are focused. Meditation can bring one into an ever-increasing awareness of God, the essence and home of our own spirit.