Growing up in an evangelical Christian environment, meditation was a foreign concept to me as a child, rarely mentioned except when being spoken of in a bad light with the intent to dissuade listeners from practicing meditation. Something about emptying your mind so that the devil can come in, so don’t do it.
As I would come to learn much later in life when I eventually became interested in meditation, it is indeed a spiritual practice, but it has nothing to do with making room in your mind for the ‘devil’ to get in by emptying your mind! Such are the close-minded views of religious folk steeped in dogma who do not at all understand the nature of meditation, nor the many benefits of clearing the mind of all thoughts and the constant mind chatter from time to time.
On the contrary, the ultimate purpose of this ancient spiritual practice of stilling one’s mind is actually to achieve divine union, or oneness with God, a state where one hears the ‘voice of God’ as it would be termed in the west, a state of deep inner peace and joy. In Hinduism, this goal is alternately called Self Realization, this Self not being the ego-identity but rather the divine spiritual identity; in Buddhism it is described as awakening (into Buddha-hood - Buddha means ‘awakened one’). The goal of meditation in all the spiritual traditions is much the same - connecting directly to God and reaching higher states of consciousness by going within, rather than through outward religious rituals.
Meditation has it roots in ancient eastern spiritual traditions - Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism - but is also a fundamental practice among Christian and Jewish mystics, Muslim Sufis, those on the path of alchemy, and with the modern ‘New Age’ movement among others. Christian mystics and Sufis, however, typically use the term contemplation in place of meditation when referred to this practice.
Originally, the desired end result of meditation was enlightenment, or liberation from all thoughts and desires that cause suffering, as it is summarized in Buddhism. In ancient Jewish mystic traditions, this goal was known as ascension, and in alchemy it is described as discovering the philosopher’s stone (the key to turning base metals (base human desires) into gold (divine attributes).
This elevated state of consciousness where one has risen above the desires of the world and united with the Source of all creation (universal love), thereby finding undisturbed inner peace and joy, is called samadhi in the Hindu tradition (superconciousness), and is typically described as entering the kingdom of heaven by Christian mystics (a state of indescribable peace and divine ecstasy). American Master Lavalley described samadhi as “the perfect speed of God’s mind.”
Sufis “describe this state as that of being entirely lost to oneself in contemplation of the Unique Being.” Such a Sufi Master, said Sheik Maneri, has “attained enlightenment,” and blinded by the “dazzling divine light,” he forgets himself - “all awareness of self is lost,” the Sheik explains. “Here alone is God actually seen face to face.”
It is written in the Bible (Hebrew Torah) that after wrestling with an angel,
Jacob called the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life has been preserved.”
Interestingly, the pineal gland is the physical organ (just outside the brain) associated with the ‘third eye’ - the sixth major energy center in the human body typically associated with inner spiritual vision (located between the eyebrows), where many dedicated meditation practitioners speak of eventually seeing the appearance of a bright light, which could certainly be called a “dazzling divine light.”
Meditation is rapidly gaining popularity in the West, but I believe that many of these Western practitioners have lost sight of the original spiritual goals of the practice, much like with the practice of yoga too, and are simply engaging in the practice for some of the benefits regular meditation provides, such as stress relief. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with practicing meditation solely as a stress-reduction exercise or to calm the mind, I think it is important to at least remember the roots of the practice and its original goal as the foundational spiritual practice of many ancient traditions, in order to fully understand it.
Regardless of the reasons one chooses to practice meditation, the benefits are probably as numerous as are the various different methods of meditation and meditation practices. Two major types of meditation include sitting in silence and stilling the mind (either clearing the mind of all thought or observing thoughts that arise without judgement or attachment until the mind eventually clears itself), and repeating a mantra (whether aloud or silently within, until the mantra takes hold and begins to repeat itself without any conscious effort on the practitioner’s part).
Ramana Maharshi taught that the quickest and most direct path to oneness and enlightenment was by constantly asking oneself “Who am I?” This is an example of a mantra meant to lead to the realization of the true Self as divine. When thoughts arise during meditation, Maharshi taught, the solution is to ask “To whom does the thought arise?” And then return your focus to the mantra.
Many Christian mystics over the ages have used the ‘Jesus prayer’ as their mantra, reporting amazing mind-altering results. “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” they would constantly repeat, over and over and over for several days on end. Some reported that after just three days of constant repetition of this mantra-prayer, their entire consciousness was completely transformed.
Self inquiry as a principle means of spiritual advancement (and form of meditation), such as the method taught by Ramana Maharshi has long been employed across numerous spiritual traditions, and great spiritual and philosophical teachers from the East to the West have taught knowledge of self as the key to liberation and enlightenment. “Know yourself” is an ancient African proverb and it is at the heart of Platonic philosophy, Self-realization (realizing the true Self as God) is central to Hinduism, and a saying of Jesus found in the Gospel of Thomas clearly taught the great importance of knowing oneself on order to enter the kingdom of heaven within.
“If your leaders say to you, the kingdom is in the sky, the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say it is in the sea, the fish will precede you. But rather the kingdom is within you and it is outside of you. If you know yourselves then you will understand that it is you who are the children of the Living Father, but if you will not know yourselves then you dwell in poverty, and you are that poverty.”
The Hebrew Scriptures (Christian Old Testament) similarly says in the Psalms that: “I have said ye are gods, for you are all children of the Most High.”
The essence of the Buddha’s teaching - “You are all Buddhas. There is nothing you need to achieve. Just open your eyes.” - is very much the same. “Be a lamp unto yourself,” Gautama taught. “Hold to the truth within you as to the only truth.”
Even Jesus in the Biblical gospels taught that the Christ Self he was also lay dormant within everyone, when he proclaimed in the parable of the sheep and goats that what people do and do not do to even the lowliest and neediest of humanity, they have literally done and not done the same unto him. He wasn’t speaking of himself here as Jesus/the human body, but as “the King” (Christ, Anointed One). Mother Theresa realized this truth, which is why she said that when she looked into the eyes of the hungry and homeless ones she was feeding, she saw the Christ. It is why Jesus, who in the gospel of John called himself the Son of God, also called all of his disciples his brothers (fellow sons of God). And it is why it is said that when one reaches the point at which they see their own soul being reflected back to them when looking into the eyes of another, that they have reached an advanced state of consciousness and are well on their way to enlightenment, for they have come to see their true Self or the Christ within them in their fellow brothers and sisters of humanity.
But none of these teachings do anyone any good unless they are realized and recognized within ourselves, through personal experience. And herein lies the importance of meditation.
I first became drawn to the practice of meditation not even two years ago, and haven’t been regularly meditating for even that long, so by no means am I an expert. Yet I have already experienced numerous benefits from making meditation a regular practice of my own. My first proper introduction to meditation that really piqued my interest was through the spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in spirituality and especially the similarities between eastern and western spirituality (Hinduism and Christianity).
I began reading this about the same time I stumbled upon a YouTube channel with a major focus on Christian Mysticism and meditation, which immediately caught my interest - run by a gentlemen from the UK who had been led to start an orphanage and dog rescue in Tanazania (where I just so happened to have spent two of my memorable childhood years growing up).
Also at the same time, a girl running another YouTube channel whom I had already been following for some time, a convert from Catholicism to a more independent spiritual path, was also experimenting with and beginning to meditate herself. She put together the following video which I found quite helpful, detailing the steps she took and how she eventually learned to get into the meditative state successfully.
All of this along with a number of other books and videos I came across in which meditation was mentioned propelled me into eventually embracing the practice myself. But by far the biggest factor and influence driving my interest in meditation was Yogananda’s Autobiography of Yogi.
Not only was this my first major introduction to meditation but also of yoga as a spiritual practice. Yogananda was a practitioner of Kriya yoga, which can probably also accurately be described as the science of meditation. Until this time I had thought of yoga as nothing more than a form of exercise from the East involving numerous stretches and poses used mainly as a form of stress relief and to develop a limber body; I had no idea the principal purpose of each major branch of yoga was much the same as meditation (and in fact meditation, when properly practiced, is a form of yoga) - a spiritual practice meant to propel the practitioner into higher levels of consciousness and ultimately union with the universal divine Source or God.
Never before had I been so enchanted with stories of miracles (which I had once scoffed at as delusions of religious fanatics), with spiritual practices (which I had once scorned as generally useless wastes of energy - a favorite motto of mine had at one point been, ‘Two helping hands can do more than a thousand folded in prayer’), and with Saints and Masters! The eastern approach to spirituality as a methodical science to be mastered as opposed to a rather hit and miss blind faith in the doctrines of the church appealed both to my sense of reason and to my thirst for a deeper spiritual connection and greater meaning in life. I also came to realize eastern yoga traditions had much more in common with Christianity than most Christians would like to admit.
Even before finishing the book - which took me over a month being busy time in my life - I was sold on meditation and wished to begin practicing immediately. I certainly wasn’t able to comprehend how some Indian saints were actually able to not only sit still and meditate for 18-20 hours a day, but actually enjoyed doing so, and without getting bored (or so stiff they could never walk again!), but I was nonetheless intent to learn the ancient art of meditation my self.
When first practicing meditation and learning how to meditate there are several keys, the first and foremost being the art of stilling the mind.
This is probably the most difficult step for any new meditation practitioner, particularly in the West, due to our inherently busy minds accustomed to living in the busy world of modern western society, but probably also why it is gaining such popularity - for it is practical means of calming our overly busy minds and stopping the nonstop chatter therein.
For me personally, learning to still my mind was no easy task and occasionally at times still remains difficult, but the resulting ability to do so also became the first noticeable benefit.
A mind that is accustomed to constant racing thoughts does not want to become still, and a person accustomed to constantly thinking at first quickly becomes bored upon attempting to sit still in silence. If one eventually makes it through the initial boredom as I eventually did, then comes the relentless onslaught of thoughts, such a bombardment it is almost unbearable and certainly quite the opposite of clearing one’s mind I thought! At first I often just gave up, though with persistence I found it much easier to relax into stillness in the evening before bed. My thoughts had in the past often kept me up at night, but gone were those sleep-deprived nights once I began meditating before bed.
It was a step in the right direction, though it would be months before I committed myself to meditating daily no matter the circumstances. With time, I found, I would get there. Dedication to regular practice of meditation daily helps for sure. With time, as both the body and mind become accustomed to the practice, like any habit, the body and mind both much more readily accept it and settle into a relaxed state of stillness with a lot less time and effort.
Learning to still the mind is probably the foundational key to the entire practice of meditation, indeed the very essence of the practice itself.
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” - Lao Tzu
“Be still, and know that I am God.” - Psalms 46:10
It is impossible to develop single-minded focus or become fully present in the present moment without learning to still the mind, two additional important functions of meditation.
Another key benefit (and goal) of meditation is that it brings one into full awareness of the present moment, with the skill of living totally in the present moment now currently lost to most people in the modern world it seems. Most of us are constantly so busy living in and dwelling on the past, or planning for and worrying about the future (or both) that we totally miss life in the present - the now, the only time we can truly live in!
Simply learning to live completely in the present moment is a major achievement for most, and results in a great deal less of mental suffering. Many people, myself once included, live almost entirely in the past, and this is a major source of their suffering. This I can attest to from personal experience, and I can also attest to meditation being one of the keys that helped me shift my awareness more fully into the present moment.
Worrying about the future is nearly just as common a source of our suffering, and thus one of Jesus’ main teachings to his disciples was to not worry about the future - “take no thought for tomorrow.” Taking no thought, or entering a state of thoughtlessness is also to enter a meditative state of mind.
When first attempting to still the mind, the average person will find that sitting in silence only increases the number of thoughts racing through their mind. Many of us, myself included, have throughout our lives developed a ‘monkey mind’, a mind that is constantly thinking, jumping from thought to thought, that does not want to be stilled, that initially finds such stillness to be quite tortuous. But eventually it brings about much deeper states of peace and one’s ability to actually tune into and hear their inner intuition. After all, if your mind is constantly filled with thoughts, it is impossible to hear your inner intuitive voice. It is impossible to hear that “still, small voice” of God within until your mind is actually still.
One of the simplest and most common methods to begin to still the mind for those with chattery monkey minds is to close your eyes, relax your entire body and focus all your attention on your breath. Sit upright in the most comfortable and relaxing position possible, or lie down if that feels more natural so long as you aren’t already tired (or you’ll probably just fall asleep). Listen to your breath, feel it flow in and out of your lungs, place your hands on your stomach and feel the rhythm your breath creates, and just generally become fully aware of your breath and become one with it as much as you are able. Your mind will probably not immediately become empty of thoughts, but it should with some time become noticeably quieter and quite a bit more still.
As you continue breathing, you may notice as you continue to relax that your breathing naturally becomes deeper on its own without any effort on your part. You will also become acutely aware that you can at any time assume full control of your breath and yet that it also goes on all by itself entirely without you. You can consciously breathe, or you can let your breath continue breathing on its own. Simply contemplating on this fascination is capable of opening doors to many new realizations.
Some people find focusing on an object more or less helpful than focusing on the breath, and many people choose to focus on a candle flame as a meditation aid. You can stare at the object for a while, and then eventually just close your eyes and hold a mental image of the object in your mind as long as possible, up to five minutes if possible. Focusing on one specific area of the body with eyes closed is another common technique, most commonly fixing attention upon the space between the eyebrows, the ‘third eye’ or brow chakra. Anything that helps still your mind and relax your body is initially beneficial in training your mind to release the constant barrage of thoughts and worries that assails it when you begin to sit in silence, but staying with the breath seems to be the most common and universally successful meditation aid.
A technique that I found personally very helpful to calm my mind was alternate nostril breathing, a Kriya Yoga technique taught by Yogananda to his disciples which is supposed to also help unify the left (male/logical) and right (female/intuitive/creative) brain hemispheres. I only recently discovered the various specific Kriya yoga techniques, long after initially reading the book. After settling into a relaxing position, and while taking deep breaths, first pinch your left nostril and inhale through your right nostril, then pinch your right nostril and then exhale and inhale through your left nostril, then alternate again, exhaling (this is one round) and inhaling through your right nostril - repeating this a dozen times or so. If you’re anything like me, you might be surprised at just how relaxed and calm your mind becomes simply by engaging in this practice for several minutes. If your mind has stopped racing and is relatively calm, just sit in silence for five minutes or so and observe whatever thoughts, feelings or even visuals arise in your mind and pass through your awareness, or enjoy the stress-free state of thoughtlessness if such occurs. You may also wish to focus on your third eye, as the teacher who passed this practice on recommends.
A great next step after calming your mind is to begin to completely detach yourself from your thoughts as much as possible, and to shift from being the ‘thinker’ of your thoughts as your own, to the observer of your thoughts simply as independent thoughts that are coming and going. Instead of identifying with each thought, simply observe that thought without judgement as it passes through your awareness. It is easier for some to do this by first shifting their awareness from their breath (or whatever meditation aid they were using to focus upon) to any and all noises around them, whether chirping birds or flowing water or the wind or music or people talking or cars driving by. Just let each sound come and go as they pass through your awareness, without judgement, simply observing the sounds. Then begin to view your own thoughts just like sounds arising in your environment and it begins to be much easier to observe them without identifying with or judging them.
Over time, the practitioner who regularly meditates in this fashion will not only have fewer and fewer thoughts arising within them, but they will also begin to see that most of their thoughts are not actually their own, but rather come and go through the mind seemingly at random. Each person at all times has a choice whether to embrace and identify with a particular thought or to simply witness its entry into their consciousness and then release it when it fades away. The longer one practices meditation, the more control over their own thoughts they have. The more they will realize which thoughts constantly running through their minds are actually the thoughts of others (from society, teachers, government, media, friends, family, etc.), which ones arise on their own, and which ones are truly their own thoughts which they consciously choose to think.
And if they become completely detached from their thoughts as the unbiased observer rather than the thinker/doer, they will eventually begin to realize that in reality the ‘I’ that is aware of the thoughts coming into the mind never has any independent thoughts of its own, and is distinct from the ‘I’ in the mind that thinks it is thinking all the thoughts (the ego). They will begin to clearly differentiate between which thoughts are controlling them, and which thoughts they are controlling. Most people are not in control of their minds, but rather their mind is in control of them.
Gaining control of your mind is extremely empowering, which is why the powers that be have gone to such lengths to control the minds of that masses by getting them hooked to the various forms of indoctrination and programming (TV, news, entertainment, etc.) A crucial step in the awakening process is therefore to unplug from this ‘matrix’ system, its programming and fear/anger/division-based energies.
Eventually, entering into a thoughtless state of awareness will be possible and will occur, and this is one of the major desired goals of meditation, from which point the practitioner can turn their mind further inward and begin to climb the spiritual ladder of consciousness within themselves towards the higher levels of consciousness and awareness associated with enlightenment, which all of the spiritual Masters reached.
Some describe the meditative state as a feeling of floating within their body. Others as a peaceful state of total calm and darkness. It is described by many as a blissful thoughtless awareness, much like going into a deep dreamless sleep while retaining awareness. Many advanced practitioners report that upon embracing the silent darkness, eventually a bright light that is indescribable with mere words will appear in their third eye, and others that a ‘silent’ voice is heard.
“There is a voice that can only be heard in the silence, and a light that shines in the darkness,” said a saint of the 20th Century who had first seen this light when locked up alone in a dark prison cell for months on end. Similarly, in the Bible it is written that: “To those who sat in darkness, a great light appeared.”
Alan Watts described the meditative state as simple awareness, watching the ebb and flow of one’s thoughts without attachment or judgement. Some people have visions or images arise in their mind, or hear sounds and sometimes even voices of ones they claim are higher dimensional beings or angels giving them messages. I surmise that there are various levels or depths of meditation - deeper and shallower meditative states - much like there is shallow and restless sleep, dreaming sleep, and then deep dreamless sleep.
Yogananda describes the true meditative state as a state where one has unplugged his awareness from his five senses and the outer sensory world, fully focused instead on the inner reality and completely disconnected from the outer reality - much like a sleeping person has become entirely unaware of his body and yet is still aware of his dream reality during a dream. Swami Rama, one of the great Himalayan masters, also explained in his own autobiography (Living With the Himalayan Masters) that one who is truly meditating is totally unaware of absolutely everything taking place around him in his physical surroundings, completely cutoff from his five senses with the totality of his awareness focused within himself and absorbed in inner contemplation or the blissful higher states of consciousness.
I have certainly not mastered this skill, though I have had moments during thoughtless states of meditation where I very briefly lose awareness of the sounds around me, but such personal experiences of mine have yet to last for more than a few seconds. Just staying in a thoughtless state for any extended period of time is itself seemingly miraculous to the mind that has taught itself it is impossible to exist without thought. “I think, therefore I am,” the old adage goes, and many of us have made this our own reality, taught from a young age that to be conscious means to have thoughts racing through your mind. I remember a few times as a child when my mind would drift off into a daydream, but when I snapped back to ‘reality’ I realized for the past few moments I hadn’t been thinking about anything! Those days didn’t last long, but looking back I can see that I had naturally drifted into a meditative state without even knowing it.
If one can consciously learn to put the body into a state of such deep relaxation that it falls asleep, while at the same time retaining mental consciousness and awareness, then they will have achieved the ability to enter this deep meditative state at will, where one’s awareness is fully disconnected from the five senses as it is during normal sleep. Being able put the body to sleep while keeping the mind awake is also a skill crucial in the art of astral projection, or so I have heard. I have tried many times, and the most difficult aspect by far is keeping the mind awake at the point the body is falling asleep. Putting oneself to sleep, even when not overly tired, isn’t too terribly difficult, but staying awake while falling asleep at the same time is no easy task!
Nevertheless, this is apparently a skill mastered by many dedicated spiritual seekers; and one who persistently continues to withdraw his focus and awareness from his outer surroundings and his five senses by shifting them inwards during meditation will eventually be able to totally disconnect his mind from his senses and also perceive the ‘inner world’ with his spiritual vision, or inner eye (third eye), through which one sees the inner light mentioned above that appears in the darkness of meditation.
Jesus also describes seeing through the inner spiritual eye, when he taught that: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye be single, then your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye be evil then your whole body will be filled with darkness. If the light therefore within you be dark, how great is that darkness!”
‘Opening the third eye’ or learning to see with their inner spiritual eye is another major goal of many who are on the spiritual path, which over time can be achieved through meditation. Meditation also helps aid in purifying the seven chakras (energy centers along the spine) so that the life energy coiled at the base of the spine (kundalini) can freely flow upwards into the upper three divine chakras (throat, third eye, crown). Kundalini yoga and Kriya yoga both focus upon unlocking and consciously raising this dormant energy in one way or another, but it is my understanding that this raising of the energy (also called kundalini awakening) will naturally occur - eventually - to any devoted spiritual seeker who regularly practices meditation while living a life centered upon service to others rather than service to self.
A tingling sensation up and down the spine is sometimes reported by those in meditation, particularly those who have meditated for many years, and especially in the moments when they feel the third eye being opened. One Yogi that Yogananda met as a child described this as “an overwhelming sensation rising up my spine,” before permeating his whole body, to which Yogananda explains in a footnote that: “In deep meditation, the first experience of Spirit is on the alter of the spine, and then in the brain. The torrential bliss is overwhelming, but the Yogi learns how to control the outward manifestations.”
Throughout the process of meditation for many months and often years, even after becoming proficient at stilling the mind, thoughts will from time to time arise from deep within the subconscious. This is a necessary and beneficial process along the spiritual path that occurs during meditation, whereby all of the suppressed thoughts and repressed feelings that have been buried deep within one’s subconscious are brought to the surface to be processed and then either released or integrated. The totality of all of these thoughts and feelings is what Carl Jung described as the individual’s shadow self, which are a continual source of inner pain and psychological issues until they are faced and dealt with. This often painful and time-consuming process is a necessary step to achieve total inner healing and to becoming whole once again.
The longer one practices this form of meditation, the more aware of the thought patterns shaping his own life he will become. He will begin to become much more aware not only of what thoughts arise within his mind while meditating, but also of all of the thoughts ruling his mind throughout the day, and he will begin to notice repeating thought patterns that shape the way he sees the world. Some thoughts may be helpful, and others may be detrimental and a cause of much suffering and self-limitation. In time, by paying close attention to the rise of one’s thoughts both during and outside of meditation, one will begin to notice patterns and will eventually clearly see all of the thought patterns that no longer serve him or herself. Chief among these will likely be fear-based thought patterns, worries about the future, and regrets about or guilt associated with the past.
By consciously choosing to decide which thoughts to embrace and which thoughts to release, which thoughts to feed and grow and which ones to starve of one’s attention, a person will quickly learn the extreme power that thoughts hold. One will learn that they literally are what they think. By simply holding a limited thought about oneself, a person is able to physically limit themselves their entire lives from doing something any ordinary fellow could do without much effort. By doing nothing but embracing and believing an empowering thought, one is able to physically do things that were otherwise considered to be impossible.
When one begins tossing out old limited fear-based thought patterns and replacing them with new expanded empowering thought patterns then they will quickly see first hand in their own life just how truly powerful their thoughts are.But not only do thoughts and beliefs have tremendous power to bring about psychological healing or devastation, but they also have the power to literally make the body sick and also to heal physical ailments!
The mind is very powerful, more powerful than most people think or realize. By becoming acutely self aware of our own thought processes and thought patterns, we will begin to witness this for ourselves. The mind literally has the power to affect the matter that makes up our world. Our thoughts create our reality, not the other way around as many people have come to believe. Quantum physics has now begun to prove this reality. “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” The thoughts and beliefs we hold literally have the power to change not only our own lives, but the course of the entire world. Every creation begins with a thought, from the most beautiful sculptures and paintings to the most horrific wars and genocides.
For those who are truly passionate about self-empowerment and willing to completely change the way they look at the world and their own life, meditation can serve as a powerful tool to help us totally re-wire our thought patterns to be much more in alignment with reality and our own dreams. Through the process of meticulous and detached observation of our thoughts in meditation, and by choosing to give life only to those thoughts which serve us and our deepest inner desire for peace and joy, we can achieve true states of inner happiness that are not dependent upon our ever-changing circumstances, and that no amount of chasing possessions, drugs, sex or relationship in the material world will ever be able to fulfill.
Those Masters who have completed the awakening process speak of an awareness so expanded and a state of bliss so unfathomable that words cannot do justice. They say the practice of meditation is just one of the main steps along the way, like a crutch that is useful and most necessary until the injured leg is healed, but is then no longer needed once one’s entire life becomes that meditation.
As the Buddha taught, all spiritual truths and realizations are useful only to get you to the other side, like a raft used to cross a river; most necessary aids in getting you across the water, but once you are safely across there is no longer any use in carrying the raft any further, and in fact by doing so it would become a heavy burden. So they say it is, even with meditation itself. Many Masters will continue the practice for the benefit of their disciples, but they are in a constant state of divine ecstasy and complete oneness whether they are meditating or carrying on normal day-to-day business in the world. I suppose if we are all Buddhas, and all spiritual practices including meditation are just ways to bring us to the point of opening our eyes, then once our eyes have opened and we have ‘awakened’, there would indeed be no more use for meditation.
It is hard to imagine for one like me, who cannot yet even enter the deep meditative state disconnected from the physical senses, let alone the breathless state of samadhi where the consciousness completely detaches itself from the body to enter the indescribable blissful state of total divine union. I still cannot even fathom the latter, which almost seems like a fairytale.
I’m plenty happy having learned to simply still my racing mind, and am quite content with the inner peace I have so far cultivated through my practice of meditation, and greatly appreciate its aid in helping me to bring my awareness into the present moment more so and more often each and every day. It has served its purpose well so far; I have no doubt it will continue to do so in the future. And who knows, maybe some day it will take me all the way to the ‘other side’ after all. If that day ever comes, I wonder if the Buddha would be there to welcome me with smiling eyes, or any of the other Masters I’ve read about for that matter.
In the meantime, regardless of what the future holds, I will try to enjoy the ride as best I can and will continue using meditation as the practical tool I have come to cherish and rely on along the way to wherever it is I am going. Maybe in reality I am already there and just haven’t realized it yet; maybe we are all already there. Whatever the case may be, I hope someone out there finds this post helpful and informative. I’m no expert on the subject, I just wanted to share some of what I’ve learned and experienced on my own journey in the hopes it would help others along their journey of life.