Meditation brings a sense of fullness and completion, and is the only permanent source of tranquility available to human beings. All other forms of serenity are temporary and dissolve into conflict and chaos over time. The euphoria of drugs quickly lead to misery and self-destruction. The wholesomeness of love, so beautiful and ethereal, is a relatively short lived and fleeting experience. As J. Krishnamurti said, meditation brings order and “That order is the order of the universe. It is irrevocable and doesn’t depend on anything.” Meditation is the eternal essence of nature taking on conscious form within the mortal human frame.
Meditation is an adventure of self-discovery. How can you live without knowing who or what you are? If someone asks you who you are during the day, you may state your name, as if a temporary label actually means something important. Ask yourself who you are when you are in deep sleep, unconscious, and without even a dream to prove that you exist. Ask yourself who you were ten months before you were born, and who you will be just one moment after your body dies. Meditation increases awareness of the natural phenomena that is actually going on behind your own eyes. Self-knowledge has intrinsic value, even without the indescribable bliss nature generously unleashes in those who practice meditation with sincerity and patience.
- Christopher Calder
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ESSENTIAL ADVICE ON MEDITATION
(excerpts from Teachings by Sogyal Rinpoche)
When you read books about meditation, or often when meditation is
is presented by different groups, much of the emphasis falls on
the techniques. In the West, people tend to be very interested in
the “technology” of meditation. However, by far the most
important feature of meditation is not technique, but the way of
being, the spirit, which is callled the “posture”, a posture
which is not so much physical, but more to do with spirit or
It is well to recognize that when you start on a meditation
practice, you are entering a totally different dimension of
reality. Normally in life we put a great deal of effort into
achieving things, and there is a lot of struggle involved,
whereas meditation is just the opposite, it is a break from how
we normally operate.
Meditation is simply a question of being, of melting, like a
piece of butter left in the sun. It has nothing to do with
whether or not you “know” anything about it, in fact, each time
you practice meditation it should be fresh, as if it were
happening for the very first time. You just quietly sit, your
body still, your speech silent, your mind at ease, and allow
thoughts to come and go, without letting them play havoc on you.
If you need something to do, then watch the breathing. This is a
very simple process. When you are breathing out, know that you
are breathing out. When you breath in, know that you are
breathing in, without supplying any kind of extra commentary or
internalized mental gossip, but just identifying with the breath.
That very simple process of mindfulness processes your thoughts
and emotions, and then, like an old skin being shed, something is
peeled off and freed.
Usually people tend to relax the body by concentrating on
different parts. Real relaxation comes when you relax from
within, for then everything else will ease itself out quite
When you begin to practice, you center yourself, in touch with
your “soft spot”, and just remain there. You need not focus on
anything in particular to begin with. Just be spacious, and allow
thoughts and emotions to settle. If you do so, then later, when
you use a method such as watching the breath, your attention will
more easily be on your breathing. There is no particular point on
the breath on which you need to focus, it is simply the process
of breathing. Twenty-five percent of your attention is on the
breath, and seventy-five percent is relaxed. Try to actually
identify with the breathing, rather than just watching it. You
may choose an object, like a flower, for example, to focus upon.
Sometimes you are taught to visualize a light on the forehead, or
in the heart. Sometimes a sound or a mantra can be used. But at
the beginning it is best to simply be spacious, like the sky.
Think of yourself as the sky, holding the whole universe.
When you sit, let things settle and allow all your discordant
self with its ungenuineness and unnaturalness to disolve, out
of that rises your real being. You experience an aspect of
yourself which is more genuine and more authentic-the “real” you.
As you go deeper, you begin to discover and connect with your
The whole point of meditation is to get used to the that aspect
which you have forgotten. In Tibetan “meditation” means “getting
used to”. Getting used to what? to your true nature, your Buddha
nature. This is why, in the highest teaching of Buddhism,
Dzogchen, you are told to “rest in the nature of mind”. You just
quietly sit and let all thoughts and concepts dissolve. It is
like when the clouds dissolve or the mist evaporates, to reveal
the clear sky and the sun shining down. When everything dissolves
like this, you begin to experience your true nature, to “live”.
Then you know it, and at that moment, you feel really good. It is
unlike any other feeling of well being that you might have
experienced. This is a real and genuine goodness, in which you
feel a deep sense of peace, contentment and confidence about
It is good to meditate when you feel inspired. Early mornings can
bring that inspiration, as the best moments of the mind are early
in the day, when the mind is calmer and fresher (the time
traditionaly recommended is before dawn). It is more appropriate
to sit when you are inspired, for not only is it easier then as
you are in a better frame of mind for meditation, but you will
also be more encouraged by the very practice that you do. This in
turn will bring more confidence in the practice, and later on you
will be able to practice when you are not inspired. There is no
need to meditate for a long time: just remain quietly until you
are a little open and able to connect with your heart essence.
That is the main point.
After that, some integration, or meditation in action. Once your
mindfulness has been awakened by your meditation, your mind is
calm and your perception a little more coherent. Then, whatever
you do, you are present, right there. As in the famous Zen
master’s saying: “When I eat, I eat; when I sleep, I sleep”.
Whatever you do, you are fully present in the act. Even washing
dishes, if it is done one-pointedly, can be very energizing,
freeing, cleansing. You are more peaceful, so you are more “you”.
You assume the “Universal You”.
One of the fundamental points of the spiritual journey is to
persevere along the path. Though one’s meditation may be good one
day and and not so good the next, like changes in scenery,
essentially it is not the experiences, good or bad which count so
much, but rather that when you persevere, the real practice rubs
off on you and comes through both good and bad. Good and bad are
simply apparations, just as there may be good or bad weather, yet
the sky is always unchanging. If you persevere and have that sky
like attitude of spaciousness, without being perturbed by
emotions and experiences, you will develop stability and the real
profoundness of meditation will take effect. You will find that
gradually and almost unnoticed, your attitude begins to change.
You do not hold on to things as solidly as before, or grasp at
them so strongly, and though crisis will still happen, you can
handle them a bit better with more humor and ease. You will even
be able to laugh at difficulties a little, since there is more
space between you and them, and you are freer of yourself. Things
become less solid, slightly ridiculous, and you become more
A Sleep of Prisoners
The human heart can go the length of God
Dark and cold we may be
But this is no winter now
The frozen misery of centuries
Cracks, breaks, begins to move
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart spring.
Thank God our time is now
When wrong comes up to meet us everywhere
Never to leave us ’til we take
The greatest stride of soul folk ever took
Affairs are now soul size
The enterprise is exploration into God
But where are you making for
It takes so many thousand years to wake
But will you wake, for pity’s sake.
- Christopher Fry
Instructions on timing, place and postures in Meditation:
Meditation is not the pursuit of pleasure and the search for happiness. Meditation, on the contrary, is a state of mind in which there is no concept or formula, and therefore total freedom. It is only to such a mind that this bliss comes unsought and uninvited. Once it is there, though you may live in the world with all its noise, pleasure and brutality, they will not touch that mind. Once it is there, conflict has ceased. But the ending of conflict is not necessarily the total freedom. Meditation is a movement of the mind in this freedom. In this explosion of bliss the eyes are made innocent, and love is then benediction.
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
What do you do while sitting?
The most basic approach to meditation is to relax, let go, and do nothing. Surrender to the moment and watch yourself as a silent witness. If thoughts come to mind, then observe the thoughts without adding to them by your active participation. Be a detached and passive observer and simply feel your most basic fundamental being. This inherently immense entity has been called “the ground of being.”
The enlightened teacher J. Krishnamurti used the term “choiceless awareness” to describe his own meditation method. This means being conscious without the thought process choosing something smaller than your vast fundamental being to focus on. Consciousness is like a glass ball floating in the depth of space. Light and sensory input flows into the field of consciousness from all directions. When you think, you focus your attention on just one area of sensory input, or you create a thought from memory stored within the brain. With choiceless awareness, you are not thinking or remembering, just floating and letting sensory input flow through you from all directions without manipulating that input with the thought process. You live in the moment and become totally open. This openness attracts energy from all sides of the universe, which pushes you even higher.
Krishnamurti’s choiceless awareness is the same “methodless method” that Zen monks call “mindfulness.” Hindu yogis sometimes call it “one pointed vision.” A more accurate term might be one object vision. This means that you observe yourself, the sky, the trees, and the entire universe as one object. You no longer see the world as a multitude of parts and disconnected events. Instead, you accurately perceive the observer and the observed as exactly the same thing, with no artificial wall of separation blocking the limits of consciousness. This singular entity becomes acutely aware of itself in all its vastness. The one cosmic being, as Krishnamurti said, is “beyond time” and is “untouched by thought.” The revered sage Ramana Maharshi described it as “infinite” and “bigger than the human race.”
Another useful method is to lend special awareness to the breathing process felt in the belly. Just behind and below your navel (belly button) lies the hara, which is felt as an ethereal ball of energy. The hara is a natural balancing point of your consciousness, which can be thought of as the center of your being. Subjectively and poetically speaking, the hara is where man and universe meet. It is the gateway where we merge and become man-universe and universe-man. No one really knows what the hara actually is, but we can use it to our full advantage. Consciously developing a powerful hara center is the most important secret of meditation.
When your consciousness is centered in the hara instead of the head, your thinking process slows down, and you can relax in the expanded world of being. Trying to stop distracting thoughts through will power alone leads to more thoughts and a self-defeating inner struggle. By transferring your center of awareness to the hara, thoughts gradually disappear on their own without inner conflict. That is why you see Buddha statues with a big belly. It is an esoteric message that the hara is the key to meditation.
Sit quietly and focus on your belly as it moves in and out as you breathe. Over time the hara point will become more noticeable as your meditation grows stronger. Sudden emergencies, such as near collisions on the highway, tend to activate the hara center. We often get a “gut reaction” from sudden danger. You can nourish the feeling of the hara by simply paying passive attention to it. This relaxed concentration is very close to doing nothing, yet it is still a subtle effort. Drinking herb tea or hot water before meditation sessions relaxes the gut and facilitates awareness of the hara. Overeating and consuming cold drinks tends to make hara awareness more difficult.
One can also concentrate on the heart center or the forehead center during formal meditation sessions. The forehead center may simply be the frontal lobes of the brain, which are known to become activated by meditation. I refuse to use the corny old “third eye” label. The hara, heart, and forehead center are all somehow connected, but I suggest you maintain healthy skepticism as to the old Asian explanations of exactly how they are connected. If you activate the heart or forehead center, the hara will automatically become energized.
– Christopher Calder
Nothing is wrong with you, but the ideas
you have of yourself are altogether wrong.
It is not you who desires, fears and suffers,
it is the person built on the foundation of your body
by circumstances and influences.
You are not that person.
This must be clearly established in your mind
and never lost sight of.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj