To my mind there are a few important prerequisites for any kind of meditation: 1. Passivity: The very essence of meditation consists in being passive to what you observe within yourself or without. Although it is a very hard thing to achieve, until the moment you become passive, you can hardly be said to be meditating. Meditation cannot possibly involve battling yourself, attempting to change what you observe for a certain result. Meditation is a process of "dying" to the contents of your mind.
The ability to remain passive to the contents of your mind, in particular to the sources of your problems (see below) may free you from them, by virtue of the fact that in this passivity your mind is "disengaging" itself from the contents or the sources it is passively aware of. But if this is done with any effort, (i.e., with a view to achieve any result), then some interest is coloring your observation; hence the observation is no longer disinterested (or passive). That means that you are still involved with what you observe and therefore to that extent you are still not free from the contents or sources of your problems.
2. For its own sake: For the above reasons, meditation is not something you do for the sake of something, but for its own sake, or because you have no choice, or because you simply want to understand what you observe. If you can succeed in doing that, then meditation becomes rather a way of life than some activity you do for a certain purpose. Meditation is not a self-improvement technique.
3. Openness: Being open completely to whatever you are observing, all the facts, without trying to magnify, distort, exclude, justify, improve upon, defend, criticize or judge is also very important to meditation.
4. Nothing else: If you can succeed in the above, there is nothing else you have to do in meditation.
To achieve the above you can do various things: a) Letting go (or being detached), if your mind is distrated by goals, and letting things be, if your mind is bothered by "negative" emotions, such as depression or fear, is definitely helpful. b) You can perhaps concentrate on your breathing; merely watch your thoughts; or watch the surroundings in a passive fashion. c) Relaxing will definitely help meditation and meditation in turn will help you relax (although that's not the aim of meditation--there is no aim to meditation: if you think there is, and if you seek that aim through meditation, then it is not meditation). Some things may or may not happen to you when you meditate, but there are no promises or guarantees. It is not something you do for the sake of anything. And as long as do it for the sake of anything, it is not meditation.
You can use the meditative process to have a better understanding of your mental problems (including those of relationship), but again if you do this with an aim to change yourself or solve a problem, you may not succeed! When you look at a problem, it is always a good idea to ask specific questions, although this may not sound like a very passive thing to do. If you ask questions with an intention to understand the sources of your problems, listening passively to yourself sympathetically, not condemning or judging or justifying yourself, I think you can get to the source of your problem. For example, the question you ask may be: "Why am I so reluctant to get up from bed in the mornings?" or something like, "Why I am reluctant to go out with this boy (or girl)?" or "Why I am not interested in school work?" or "What do I really want in life?" or "What do I really know about happiness?" and so on. You pursue the questioning till you seem to have reached the end or rock bottom, till you seem not to be able to go any further.
The source of your problem may be, for example, your insecurity, fear of being a nothing, feeling inferior to someone (which feeling you are trying to compensate by the present behavior), fear of dying, the threat of something painful, loneliness, etc. When you confront the sources of your problem, which are not very hard to arrive at, you do nothing, absolutely nothing. You sit with them and don't expect anything to happen. If something happens fine, if nothing, then you still sit. If, in spite of your seeming to understand the sources of a problem the problem still persists, it may be that you are identifying yourself with the sources once again, or it may be that there are deeper sources than what you have stumbled upon that are at the bottom of the problem. To my mind solving problems which we confront in daily life is the easiest thing. That does not mean of course you have solved the fundamental problem of living! (For further discussion of the problems you confront in meditation please read the Conclusion, paragraph 4 onward.)
Then what do you do? Nothing! You keep meditating for the rest of your life. There are no goals and, as far as you know, no end to it.
In the following I will arrive at some ideas which will express my own philosophy and how I apply it to my life. The ideas are meant to be useful to you and something you can take away and use, if you find them meaningful. If not, they will at least give you an idea of how I think personally and try to live. As you can notice, many of these ideas are derived from various sources in Eastern Philosophy, but the putting together of them is my own responsibility.
1. Man's Condition (or my own condition): These are some basic facts (or problems) I observe about man's (or my own) basic condition: a) Man's condition is basically one of unrest or "disease". Any particular state of mind which he or she may think he or she is in for any length of time is there only because it is put there by some belief, or idea or thought, and will disappear as soon as one is aware of it in a questioning way. Or a state of mind is conditional to whatever is the cause of it and will disappear as soon as the cause disappears, or some other cause replaces that state with another state of mind. For example, your being content and satisfied thinking that you have a certain piece of property, or your son has graduated will disappear as soon as you find the causes are no longer there, the causes here being your desire to acquire property or your desire to see your son get ahead in life.
The basic unrest in man is such that we are constantly seeking a state of permanency of some kind or other: it may be a permanent state of happiness, God, heaven, an expanded state of consciousness, fulfillment, realizing our own potentialities and what not. No matter what we already have or do not have, it does not seem to matter--we still continually seek something other than what we are or have. Our desiring and achieving particular goals does not change this basic situation either, for soon we take for granted what we have already achieved, or compare it with what someone else has (or we ourselves have had), and seek again for something which we now do not have.
For most of us this is not a problem: We take the seeking for granted. When we are in the process of seeking we would rather achieve our particular goals, or satisfy our particular desires, than examine the process of seeking or unrest. We do not become aware of this seeking nature until we are hurt, disappointed or frustrated in one or a few basic desires of ours. Even then, we become depressed or look for various ways of finding satisfaction, or escapes from the pain of disappointment in different ways, rather than come to think of this as a basic problem and come to grips with it. (Inherently built in our thinking is our assumption that desiring is necessary for living, and that without desiring, i.e., seeking, we would become vegetables or animals, and be dead). I think it does not really matter whether these assumptions are true or false, as long as we are stuck with the seeking, and the restlessness it generates as a problem. (Of course, if you do not find it a problem, perhaps this whole course may be irrelevant to you.)
The seeking is not only done with the help of thought, but thought seems to be the source of it. When there is no thought there is no seeking; and whenever there is thought there is seeking. Thought is nothing but my past experiencing repeating itself in the present and wanting a continuance in the future. Each thought (or experience) when it is aware of itself or something else (whether it be an object or another thought) creates a sense of the I, and self-consciousness. This self-consciousness which is itself another thought creates its own seeking either in the form of the continuance or furtherance or in the form of avoidance of what it is aware of.
2. There is also a basic dissatisfaction built into my life: I do not know many important things about life or the world, and I seek an answer to those questions and I don't find it. For example, the questions of "Who am I?" "What was before I was born?" (Or "Was I there before I was born at all?"), "What will happen to me when I die?", "What is the meaning of all this existence?" "Why is there this existence or anything at all?" "Is there such a thing as God or Energy or Consciousness as the ultimate reality of the universe or myself?" "Does it matter if what I do hurts myself or other people?" I am frustrated because I cannot find answers to any of these (and many other similar) questions.
I am told in Eastern Philosophy that it is thought that generates these questions by its dualistic consciousness and approach, and without thought there won't be any questions. Besides, Eastern Philosophy tells me that not only thought creates these questions, but thought is incapable of answering these questions. At best, these questions are dissolved when thought is dissolved. The history of Philosophy tells me that human thought or reason is incapable of answering these questions; for one thing, our experience is limited to our sensory world, and for another, thought can only provide speculative answers and paradoxes, and it has no way of either settling the disputes between conflicting answers or resolving those paradoxes. So, here too I am back to having to understand the process of thinking itself.
While my fundamental unrest and dissatisfaction are going on, I still have to live my life as best as I can: (any attempt to commit suicide presupposes either that this life is so painful that I cannot withstand it or find a solution to the pain in it, or that there is a better solution elsewhere--none of which may be true). Things, events or people grab my attention momentarily at different times. I make a living as best as I could with this dragging, drifting kind of consciousness. My attitudes to things and people change from time to time and therefore my responses to them change: it is anyone's guess if and why I ever give a ride to a hitchhiker on the highway or I am nice to my student today or fulfill some of my obligations, or cheat people behind their back particularly when I know they don't know I am cheating or when I know they are not looking. Morality really does not seem to have any basic grip over me. No principle of conduct, moral or otherwise, seems to stay with my consciousness for any length of time. All things that happen to me are temporary, momentary and changeable. (It does not mean I will go around doing intentionally foul things to people--that would surely be one way to complicate my life, as if it is not complicated enough!)
The above applies to my beliefs as well. I don't seem to be capable of any belief: not that I would not wish to believe in some things. But everything in my mind is so temporary that m mind starts questioning any belief as soon as it is aware of having one. Moreover, knowing the history of Philosophy and of religion, there is no way I can follow any particular faith or belief in a supernatural entity. It does not mean that I may not have some unconscious beliefs; but then they are not something that I am aware of having. I cannot consciously worship or pray any God or take shelter in any ritual, except in some very rare moments of helplessness or despair or for appearance sake when I am under social pressures. I cannot even ask favors from a guru, for that presupposes some amount of faith, on the one hand, and, on the other, also presupposes that I encourage this self-centered activity of trying to get favors from some higher authority. (Is it my pride that comes in the way?) I may in fact be screwing up my "path" if there be such a thing, by being so pretentious and arrogant. If I do, so be it!
Political action (such as Nuclear Freeze or joining political parties), social service etc. are meaningless things to my mind, for we only try to patch up the symptoms and wasting our time away, while the disease is constantly being nurtured by human self-centeredness. It is not that on a momentary impulse I might not, due to whim or social pressures, donate money to some cause or be charitable to someone on the way, but again on an impulse of the moment I may do many things; but those are not the things I think of doing as a matter of policy. In fact, I am dubious of running my life on the basis of any policy. The same is true of any discipline: no matter what policy or discipline I try to adopt, I have to remember it all the time to put it into practice, and my consciousness I know is such that it is never, never just any one thing. It is constantly changing. That's one thing I can count on for sure. The thoughts that occur to my mind, states of mind, feelings, etc. are all so transitory that I cannot say I am any one particular idea or state of mind or thing, except, again, for my basic state of unrest or dissatisfaction. Furthermore, any policy that I adopt seems to be a put on and artificial. It does not seem to be and can never be an integral part of me (and this includes any moral rules I may give myself--particularly vis-a-vis my various selfish interests, temptations, fears, goals and so forth. It is not that I am always a victim to my selfish interests either. That depends on whether or not at the time I am conscious of my motives and fears in a self-critical way; and that is not very predictable. It may happen, on the other hand, it might not!
3. Now, what about meditation? What of all these different methods of meditation I am taught in the various Eastern religions or philosophies? Can I practice them and somehow find a solution to my problem? The problem with any practice of meditation I have is that I have to force my mind into some kind of discipline, and my mind is very reluctant (for the above mentioned reasons) to undergo any discipline. Another problem I confront is when I sit down to do any meditation, and try to concentrate on a mantram, or on the tip of your nose, or just keep the mind blank, my mind (and body) relax in a minute or so, and I invariably fall asleep! Some meditation! And if I sit down to observe my thought processes, as Krishnamurti asks us to do, then soon I develop an internal battle, because I find myself soon doing the very things Krishnamurti asks us not to do, namely observe myself with a motive, and find myself expecting a certain result out of the observation and being disappointed at not finding the result, or start building up a castle (or a story if you wish, or a fantasy) as soon as my mind catches some kind of result happening etc. This in itself becomes a never-ending process.
Out of this process of observation or meditation I am sure of this thing at least: there is not a single thing that happens to my mind, including being in a state of pure consciousness, or bliss or what not, that my mind is not aware of and does not recognize it as such (as consciousness, for example). As soon as I recognize it, I know I am no longer in that state! Whatever my mind is conscious of is not a unitary state, for in the very recognition it creates a duality of the subject and the object. It is already building up on it, modifying, attempting to do something to it. It attempts to change the given in some fashion to create something else out it. It is always in a constant movement away from the present (or really the past it is aware of in the present) into the future. (Or it may be trying to get rid of the past it is aware of in the present. It does not matter. It is always trying to change the given in some fashion or other.)
On the other hand, in all meditational practices I see something in common: namely, that there is an attempt to quiet (is that the right word?) the thought process by disrupting it by some gadget or other (upaya meaning `skillful means' in Sanskrit). You could perhaps accomplish this by concentrating on an innocuous or neutral object with which you are not involved, or a meaningless mantram, or by keeping your mind empty of thoughts (if you can succeed in doing that!), or by observing your thoughts. The idea seems to be that if thought is responsible for the creation of our basic problems, our seeking, our Gods and future states and what not, it is only by dissolving or breaking the process of thought that we can be liberated (if that's the right word). In other words, even the very idea of liberation is a creation of thought, for in the first place, the dissatisfaction that I am trying to escape from through liberation is itself thought-generated (just as Nagarjuna so rightly pointed out). And whatever my thought does, whether in recognition, knowledge, or awareness itself, it can only perpetuate the seeking; by itself it can never solve it. Nothing that thought does, including trying to break the thought processes, is without a motivation, namely, a perpetuation of the seeking. And as far as we know there seems to be nothing else in our conscious minds except thought that does anything. If this is the hopeless situation I find myself in, can I use any meditation whatsoever, either as a practice or anything else?
4. Suppose I try detachment of myself from all the things that bind me and renouncing all goals, as for example, detaching myself from or renouncing money, power, sex, importance, authority over people, relationships, even life itself. Suppose I try to accept death, and try to live as if nothing in life really matters. However, even this idea of detachment, assuming that detachment or renunciation (or disinterested action in the sense of the Bhagavad Gita) will free me from myself (or from my thought-generated seeking), is full of problems: for in order to detach I must think of detachment; and thought never is truly detached. Whatever it gives up it does for a motive! We cannot consciously and deliberately give up anything without having an implicit motive of gaining something, even if it be our own liberation.
5. On the other hand, I cannot just go back to my old life and take my seeking life for granted: how can I not be conscious of the gnawing dissatisfaction that eats through my whole existence and yet innocently pursue all the goals which I would normally have pursued? Life has lost its sweetness for me. I must, come what may, go on in the same direction as I have been, namely, one of eating myself up! My life so far has made me less and less innocent, and more and more conscious (of myself). I am gripped by thought in its snares, and the more I try consciously to get out of it, the more entrenched in it I seem to become. (Isn't that the meaning of my increased self-consciousness?) Only instead of being carried away by concrete, minor particular goals of this and that, I am now governed perhaps by one Grand Illusion, namely, that of liberation or becoming free form seeking.
6. The only meditation I am now capable of is to continue, perhaps with redoubled energy, in the same direction of eating my own tail, knowing full well that everything I do is still part of the same activity of goal seeking. I become not only aware of my particular goal seekings, but also aware of the awareness of my goal seekings, knowing full well that it is itself the result of my seeking consciousness and knowing that knowledge is itself still seeking the end of seeking and so on and so on...............
I jump on my consciousness each time it is arising, and I jump on my jumping and so on and so on. Where does all this lead? Perhaps nowhere. (I notice that in this process, sometimes, my body, being temporarily released from the grip of particular identifications or goal seekings, relaxes...but what does that mean any way?) I have nowhere to go (because as far as I know nowhere exists), nothing to be or become (because there is nothing in the future, anyway), and nothing to do for anything. Yet I have no choice except be conscious...be conscious.... Perhaps all this is spiritual suicide...so be it! Om Swaha! All this is total nonsense to you? That's what all this Eastern Philosophy has come to?! So be it!
7. In the midst of all this struggle a question arose in my mind: what does it matter if I do seek? What does it matter if do get frustrated in the process? If I am prepared for death and nothing in life matters any way, why should seeking or non-seeking, or for that matter, even liberation matter? I have learned to resist my seeking because seeking has landed me in the troubel of frustration. But then resistance to seeking, inasmuch as it too is an expression of seeking, lands me in double frustration. And that is why I have, now, thanks to Eastern philosophy, learned to resist seeking. Now that the resistance is landing me in more trouble, I am now resisting the resistance to seeking, and so on. Perhaps this is all there is to life. Let resistance, and the resistance to it, etc. be!
8. Then suddenly something snaps! There is no problem with seeking any more (nor with the resistance of it). I am now in a state ("state" is probably a wrong word to use) which is neither seeking nor non-seeking or resistance to seeking, and in which either of them (or both alternatively) can take place. Release! Did I achieve the impossible? Is this finally what Krishnamurti calls "choiceless awareness"? Is this liberation? I don't know and I don't care. But there is no struggle. Or, if there is, there is no struggle concerning that struggle. Sometimes, as occasion demands, I seek; sometimes I notice my seeking and try not to seek or resist to seek. But it does not matter what I do. I soon come back to myself. My previous self-stultifying self-consciousness is now being used to snap out of things as and when occasion seems to demand. The basic struggle, however, seems to have ended. There is no practice any more, nor is there any need for practice, for I don't have to go anywhere, nor achieve anything, and nothing to change in myself or in the world. This, however, does not prevent me from living and doing anything I have to do in my life. Thoughts come and go, and are used for planning and doing various things in life. Yet thought does not go after various goals in order to fulfill itself. And experiences, awareness of them, knowledges can all happen. Yet, I am none of them. There is at the bottom only living, neither freedom nor bondage. Is this liberation? Who knows? Who cares?
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