“Meditation is must for everyone” is an adage most of us are familiar with. There are definitely benefits of meditation. Yet, understanding basics of meditation is must before jumping into unknown world of meditation. In fact, treading into unknown dimension of self is meditation that brings into our awareness a higher dimension of our existence where suffering is optional.
Most like to know about the unknown before choosing to take the first step by weighing in the options. I suggest meditation is one unknown that remains unknown until one does not experience it personally. It is worth a shot. Many refer to comparative studies ranking meditations based on certain measurable parameters. It is silly to rank meditation as a commodity. Meditation need not be measured. Transformation as a result of manifestation of our higher dimension in life is what matters the most, that enriching us by being well, fostering a blissful life.
Let me start by breaking the greatest myth about the need to learn meditation. Meditation cannot be learned or taught, as meditation is essence of our existence as human beings. We are born with ability to meditate. Because of our inherit ability to meditate, we can walk, talk, listen, read, eat and run. Our inherit ability to meditate (focus our attention) is means of our survival, without which we become physically and mentally dysfunctional. If you are unsure about your ability to walk, talk, listen, read, eat and run, you might need to learn meditation.
If we already know how to meditate, then, what is the meditation all about ? Let’s use example of two people in meditation. One being a pistol shooter trying to hit bull’s eye on a target and second being a person trying to focus attention on their breathing sitting crossed leg in a quiet corner with a straight back. Both are trying to focus their attention on an object of their choice. Both are trying to enhance their ability to focus their attention. What differentiates these two people are their intentions behind their attention. The shooter’s intention is to win a world class championship to have their name carved in history books. Whereas, the person in quiet room is striving to know self, starting with their breath.
We all are focusing our attention on an object of our choice, which differentiates us from one another. We are meditating on object of our choice driven or as guided by our intention. This means out intention is driver of our life. What we experience is manifestation of our intention as the world we live in. To change undesired experience of our world we have to change our intention. This is only possible if we are aware of our own intentions as the first step.
It is necessary to understand the process of creation of our world we dwell in day in and day out. To do so, we need to look at our intention as driver of our attention, that in turn guides our life. When we focus our attention on any object using one of our five senses, it triggers thoughts inside us. In itself objects carry no meaning. For example, words we hear is sound without any meaning, until the sound triggers associated pre-existing thoughts in part of our mind called memory. If the object of our attention does not exist in our memory, we fail to identify it and call it unknown thing. To illustrate this further, think of a friend whom you met first time in college in your teens. When you met this friend first time, he/she came into your awareness and became existent for you. Prior of that this friend did exist, but not for you. This means until your friend was not in your memory as collection of specific thoughts, he/she did not exist for you. Now, years after college, you can still see your friend without using any of the five senses, though he/she may be miles away from you. Where is your friend for you? Your friend is in your thoughts. When these thoughts are triggered by sound of his/her name, he/she comes into your awareness as you focus your attention on thoughts associated with sound of his/her name. This implies all that we see outside as our world is truly inside us in form of thoughts stored in our memory. To transform our merciless unfair world, we have to change our associated thoughts.
Remember, intention drives attention to focus on object of our desire, which in turn brings things to our awareness. Our awareness is as pure as our intention. This creates our Truths of varying truthfulness. Impurities in intention are like dark clouds in front of sun of our awareness. What is in our awareness is our world. Thus we create our world inside us that we believe exists outside. This belief is an illusion or maya.
Intention is not pure, when maligned by desire. Desire to be known or desire to know in order to be known, bounds us to our lower dimension of existence. In lower dimension of existence we remain bound by time attached to a form as desire. Anything with form is a product of desire wrapped in time. All forms expire as time consumes what it produces. Thus we remain empty with a void that consumes our attention. In this dimension of existence, pain and suffering are NOT optional.
“Pure intention” without desire is state of simply “being”; a constant immense joy of embracing unknown without a form, unbound by time. When intention is pure, our attention reveals to us truth. Through pure intention we become aware of what IS and what IS NOT, freeing us of all illusions (Maya). In this higher dimension of existence, pain are suffering are optional.
We know how to meditate. We are meditating, as our attention driven by our intention, chooses object to meditate upon to fulfill a desire. We need to know consequences of meditation maligned by desire. We ought to be aware of these consequences as we mostly live in lower dimension of existence where pain and suffering are not optional. In lower dimension of existence when we experience pain, loss or suffering, we ask questions like, Why me, I am always good ? What did I do wrong to suffer like this?
We need to know how to purify our intention of desires to become aware of our higher dimension as human beings. Following are 3-steps for purifying intention.
Step 1: Turning attention inwards. The very first step towards purification of intention requires becoming aware of our meditation by paying attention to what we are meditating upon. In other words, we need to turn our attention inwards where none of the five senses work. It is most difficult to reverse direction of attention and could be discomforting in beginning. We are more used to focusing our attention outward through five senses, looking for everything outside of us. When outside that is transient, and unpredictable is our anchor, it is not surprising our inside is perturbed most of the times. Calmness and stillness seems miles away affecting our physical well-being as we strive to keep our mind balanced constantly struggling with difficult and discomforting thoughts.
If all this sounds familiar, it is high time to begin turning attention inwards, before an external stimuli triggers your inner world and you are caught off guard by doing something that you claim was never your intention. The only way to be who you want to be is by turning your attention inwards to first know who you are and not what you think you are or what others tell you who you are. It is silly to not recognize your own face in mirror in front of you. To know the outside world, knowing your inner world is must.
Step 2: Facing our truth. It takes courage to come face to face with our reality with attention turned inwards. Our inherit ability to meditate, when focused inwards is our greatest friend that brings to our awareness a world that projects itself outside of us. Inward focused attention reveals our sublime desires manifesting as needs and wants for self-gratification. One needs to be careful at this point coming face to face with deep buried thoughts of past and future. Such moments are hard as we embark upon journey of self-awareness. When we dig past or future using attention as a tool, we dig coal mine, we find coal symbolic of darkness of non-existent life. When we dig present moment, we dig gold and diamond mines, we find riches symbolic of light. Light that reveals to us the truth. The truth that sets us free of all that holds us from our true potential as a human being. The truth that sets us free of our truths. At this point, a guru is needed to guide for two main reasons:
- Guru guides our attention to present moment, otherwise we get stuck in coal mine, where all that we become aware of is what has lapsed or has not lapsed. Only present is existent, therefore it is Truth.
- Guru guides us to remain aware without attachment to our past or future, and accept our truth without judgement to remain respectful and compassionate towards self.
To move forward to next step, an inner desire to move from darkness to light need be invoked, leaving behind desire to be known and desire to know to be known. This desire serves the purpose of focusing outward attention on words of wisdom and remains invoked, only until inner wisdom reveals itself. Inner desire to move from darkness to light arises from becoming aware of our inner world maligned by impure intention. This desire is further strengthened with help of Guru that shows us the choice to exercise the freedom to move towards higher dimension of existence, where suffering is optional.
Step 3: Remaining in present. A Guru to guide our attention is instrumental to shed layers of past like old skin and not hide our light in anticipation of future. A Guru as supreme wisdom is present moment, in which nothing that we already know exists. As our attention has remained in the known, which is either past or future, we are not accustomed to what is unknown as the present moment. A Guru as supreme wisdom serves as guide to anchor our attention to present moment in order to ultimately reveal our inner supreme wisdom. Until our inner supreme wisdom as Guru is not revealed, we need to use our five senses to focus attention on wisdom as spoken or written word of someone, who’s inner Guru is already invoked. When we focus our attention on “Words of supreme wisdom”, it guides our inward turned attention from our Truth to the Truth, from darkness to light.
It is necessary to understand words of wisdom through comprehension in group or individual basis. Memorizing words of wisdom, without understanding them, does not bring about transformation of darkness into light. Memorizing words of wisdom is like dipping tea bag in warm water for split second and taking it out. Water remains water in this case. Whereas comprehension of words of wisdom is like keeping a tea bag in warm water, until water transforms into tea. Even when the tea bag is taken out, the tea remains tea. This is total transformation. Transformation of water into tea requires each molecule of water to become imbued in essence of tea, taking on qualities of tea leafs. This transformation requires the tea bag to remain soaked for long enough, so that each water molecule fully absorbs qualities of tea.
Comprehension of words of wisdom brings about an inner transformation whereby each thought is transformed through vanishing of desire to be known or desire to know to be known. When we comprehend words of wisdom for long enough, our thoughts gets imbued in words of wisdom bringing about a change in our essence. This essence is change of origin of our thoughts. Without words of wisdom, origin of our thoughts lies in non-existent past or future. Whereas through comprehension of words of wisdom, present moment becomes origin of our thoughts. Present moment in which supreme wisdom resides which is Guru that ultimately guides to the origin of the whole creation, making us one with one creator. When present moment is origin of our thoughts, we become existent physically and mentally free of all sufferings. We become still, calm and unperturbed.
Inner desire to move from darkness to light is sustained by joy of being in present moment, until our own inner supreme wisdom is revealed to us. Comprehension of words of wisdom is a tool available to all of us, all the times, irrespective of what we are doing. No altar, candle, incense, idol or anything else with a form is required, as our journey towards formless dissolves all forms inside us that are desires wrapped in time. Inner supreme wisdom does not manifest as a form like desire does. Inner supreme wisdom guides us towards formlessness and timeless nature of our existence. Inner supreme wisdom guides us towards thoughtless awareness. Inner supreme wisdom guides us towards nothingness.
I hope we understand, we are all meditating, no matter if we claim to be meditating or not, no matter what we are doing or where we are. It is of paramount importance to learn the process of purification of our attention by becoming free of desire of being known or desire to know to be known.