Meditation: An Introduction

The aim of meditation practices is to induce the spontaneous state of meditation. It is impossible to teach meditation, no matter what many people say. If a person tells you that he will teach you meditation then he is not being strictly truthful. Though it is probably no more than a play of words, the only thing that anyone can teach is a method that will lead you to the experience of meditation. Remember this important point: meditation is unteachable by the very fact that it is beyond words.

Because meditation is impossible to define in concrete terms, its meaning is widely abused and misunderstood. Many people sit down, close their eyes for some time and consider that they have meditated. Well, maybe they have – who are we to say otherwise? But generally it is the case that one broods over problems and thinks of external happenings while in this so-called state of meditation. This is definitely not meditation. Though the eyes may be closed, there is no introspection if the mind is thinking about the outside world, about a cup of tea, breakfast, work or many other distractions. This is merely living in the outside world with one’s eyes closed. It is little different to actually taking part in the outer phenomena with the eyes open. Meditation is beyond this inner or outer interaction with the world.

The state of experience of meditation is not only confined to those people who sit in a quiet place with their eyes closed and perform various practices to induce meditation. This is merely one method of meditating and is called raja yoga. It is also possible to be in a state of meditation while performing everyday duties. This is more in line with the practices of karma yoga and bhakti yoga. A person can perform the most trivial actions and yet simultaneously be in the highest stages of exultation. He can cut the lawn, drive a car, make policy decisions, wash the dishes and at the same time exist in a state of meditation. And probably no one else, unless they were also in a similar state, would realize. Your actions would in no way indicate that you are meditating. This is what the Zen masters attempt to convey when they say:

How wondrous this, how mysterious;

1 carry fuel, I draw water.

Ho loji

Pursuing the tasks of everyday life

I walk along the ancient path.

I cm not disheartened in the mindless void,

Chikan

So remember, there are different paths to meditation. Some involve actions in the outside world (as is the case with karma yoga) while others involve introspection and temporarily leaving aside outside activities (as with raja yoga). In this discussion, though we will speak about meditation in general, our attention will be mainly on meditation in relation to raja yoga.

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