On Philosophy
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On Philosophy

On Meditation

7 Learnings of a Novice Meditator

Happy Vesak!

Meditation is the core of Buddhist Practice. You can’t really get anywhere* with Buddhism without meditation. Hence, I wanted to share a few ideas that I’ve found useful. Hope they will also be useful to you.

[As I describe below, getting anywhere is a terrible phrase to associate with meditation. But excuse that for now.]

Disclaimer: I’m, at best, a novice on meditation (as is the case with much that I write). So, take this, like other things, with the customary pinch of salt.

7 Learnings

1) Meditation is not about doing.

Instead, it is the state one gets into when not doing anything.

Hence, you can’t meditate by saying, “I’m going to do some meditation.”. You might do something, but that something won’t be meditation.

2) Meditation is not driven by willpower.

Willpower is a perception of ability: the ability to achieve things we desire. This desire is one of two things that drive our actions. The other is compassion. If anything drives meditation, it is compassion, not desire.

It is not easy to tell the difference. Often desire is disguised as compassion.

3) Meditation is not a vehicle to get to some destination.

Instead, it is the state of not travelling or no journey.

Reducing stress, feeling blissful, acquiring psychic powers, or even attaining enlightenment are not destinations of some journey. They are side-effects of stopping travel.

4) Meditation need not be restricted to “Meditation”.

To meditate, one doesn’t have to sit in the lotus position in a quiet place or stride slowly in some secluded grove. One can be in a meditative state anywhere.

Enlightenment is when this meditative state is perpetual.

5) Meditation is not something we can find time for.

There is much that we do as part of life. Sleep, eat, work, play etc. etc. We find time for these things and generally complete them reasonably successfully.

Meditation, on the other hand, has no past or future meaning. It has meaning only in the present, while we are in a meditative state.

6) Meditation is not difficult.

That is why it is difficult.

We are good a doing difficult things. Because we are good at doing, focussing willpower, travelling from the source to destination, finding a place and space to work hard, and finding the time.

None of these strategies work with meditation.

7) Meditation cannot be described.

Meditation is not something we can write about or even think about. Hence, one might reasonably question the purpose of this article or even if it is not completely meaningless and useless.

Meditation has no purpose, meaning or use because it is something that transcends these things.

Hence, the same applies to any article about it.

Gal Vihara (Uttararama) — Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka



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Nuwan I. Senaratna

Nuwan I. Senaratna

I am a Computer Scientist and Musician by training. A writer with interests in Philosophy, Economics, Technology, Politics, Business, the Arts and Fiction.