Tuesday, October 12, 2010
THE 'PURPOSES' OF MEDITATION
In a very real sense there are no ’purposes’ of meditation.
Meditation is a ‘thing-in-itself’, a way of life, a path of well-being, an enriched, expanded experience of life (both personally and professionally), and a means of tapping into ’resources’ of power and joy otherwise contained in the mind.
The philosopher and authority on Zen and all things magical and mystical, Alan Watts [pictured left], once wrote:
'We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.'
As there are no ‘purposes’, as such, of meditation, and as meditation is a ’thing-in-itself’, no ‘techniques’ or ‘methods’, as such, are required. (True, in some of my blogs and on the home page of this blogspot, I have used the word ‘technique’, but I mean by that ... wait for it ... the ‘technique of no-technique’. Yes, very Zen.)
There’s an ‘Eastern’ apocryphal story which goes like this ...
The student says to his Master, ‘I have been here four months, and you still haven’t given me any method or technique?’
The Master replies, ‘A method? What on earth would you want a method for?’
The student says, ‘In order to be completely inwardly free.’
The Master laughs ... and laughs ... and laughs, before finally saying, ‘You would need great skill indeed to set yourself free by means of the trap called a method.’
Indeed, it has been said that techniques and methods are merely a form of programming of one person by another.
‘Techniques’ and ‘methods’ establish stereotypes in the mind and dig grooves (neural pathways) out of which you may be unable to extricate yourself.
Do not get stuck anywhere!
All so-called ‘techniques’ and ‘methods’ are purely secondary to the cultivation of a ‘clear mind’, that is, a mind characterized by bare attention and choiceless awareness.
Mindfulness has been described as being ‘the method of no-method’. Mindfulness means just being aware ... just being awake ... and that requires ‘the effort of no-effort’. Strange, isn't it?