Meditation is commonly thought to be a practice or method, rooted in some mystical-spiritual-religious tradition or philosophy with the purpose of disabusing us of delusional notions about the nature of self and reality.
Meditation is likewise defined as a path to enlightenment or self-realization—a set of steadying training wheels that helps us to ride the bike of our innate essence—to pedal our way towards the inherent clarity, wisdom, and compassion of our true nature.
Meditation thus implies a means of becoming, an action or process that leads from here to there, a catalyst that produces an effect not already in evidence. Even if one believes that meditation is the expression of our inner being, the intimation of becoming is still there, the implication that we must do something special to become or demonstrate what we are.
I don’t particularly dispute this notion of meditation but I have noticed that almost all of us, while claiming we want to go to heaven, don’t want to die. In other words we don’t want to trade the traveling for the arriving, the doing for the being, the future promise for the present reality. As long as we are traveling, doing and believing exotic promises our separate self can persist.
Our egocentricity is a cockroach—it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. We will find some way to subvert the supposed means of radical and irreversible transformation—meditation—into another game of our egoistic foolery.
I think there is a better way around the tireless sentries of our self-centered thinking and living. I have, as perhaps you have, experienced a spontaneous awakening into a life out of time, place and category. In this awakening, one finds oneself solidly on the summit of awesome, selfless living, a summit unreachable because it is already reached, unattainable because it is already attained.
This is meditation—this standing on the already-conquered summit of superb views and immaculate air. To say it this way is to click our heels together and wake up in Kansas, where we have been all along. No traveling, no becoming, no awakening is really necessary. As long as we remain where we have been all along, not as a concept or memory but as a living fact of our personal and transpersonal existence.
Meditation is not a means to realize our desires,
to become more effective, or to develop psychic abilities.
Meditation is not a means to anything.
It is the end of all such becoming
as our simple-minded flesh and bones could want.
When we reach this end that is meditation, a new life begins.
It is not our life,
not the life we used to name with our name
and carry around like a trophy of rare achievement
but life itself, flashing through what used to be us.
Meditation is life without name, without form.
Meditation comes first
Meditation bookends all becoming
with its fiery finality.
We can’t understand this;
we can only burn the trophy case
and then live gloriously in the new life that is meditation.
Grammatically, to meditate is a verb.
Realistically, this is not true:
meditation is not a verb.
Verbs imply time.
Meditation is timeless.
Verbs imply doing.
Meditation transcends doing.
Verbs imply becoming.
Verbs are conjugated.
Meditation is undivided, unchanged, all-embracing.
The heart of meditation is
eternity without center or edge,
pure lovers braided and blended
by other lovers we can never meet.
Concentration is a useful skill,
a manipulation of attention and energy.
Concentration helps us realize our desires,
become more effective, and develop latent capacities.
Meditation is not a useful skill
and it doesn’t help us the way concentration does.
Concentration is to meditation
as a pilot light is to the sun, as a droplet is to the ocean.
Meditation means to be transcendently awake.
When we are this wide awake,
the little world disappears
in the same way sleep does
when the alarm clock goes off.
When the little world disappears,
the ocean, the sun, and the wide-awake world
come into clear focus.
Meditation means to be so wide awake
that nothing need ever be said.
Concentration yields fruit
with enough juicy kick
to make us proud.
Concentrating for weeks, months, even years at a time,
we achieve insight and have revelations about existence.
Our aura brightens.
We look through the back window and see the past,
through the front door to the embryonic future.
But these achievements have a crummy halo
which ruins everything:
It can’t be helped.
If we do something, we do it.
That inescapable ownership
is the crummy halo
which ruins everything.
Meditation cannot be practiced,
so it can’t ever swell
the pride-gland of practitioners.
Within meditation, all is too quiet
for doers of something and their halos
there are no successes and wretched failures,
no powerful kicks, no pretenders to the throne.
There is only the one silent prince,
the braided lovers,
the measure unto itself.
There is no how to meditation.
It isn’t something we do.
It is what we are,
underneath the skin, meat, and seeds
of the guava-body.
All techniques require
The incantatory means of mantra,
the practice of postures and control of breath,
sweeping the mind’s porch
and scrubbing cells clean of clutter—
these are techniques of concentration, not meditation.
Concentration wears a watch and knows
when to start and when to stop.
Concentration owns a ruler to measure
Meditation has neither watch nor ruler.
Meditation never begins and never ends.
Meditation is a feast wholly unto itself,
with you and I centerpieces on its handcrafted table.
There are no meditation masters,
because no one can master meditation.
If you hear of a meditation master,
keep your money in your pocket.
If you don’t believe this, go ahead, make the effort
to master meditation yourself.
Only don’t do it half-heartedly.
Make a supreme effort:
resolve to master meditation
as a grid of steel within a slab of concrete.
One day, your soul will hoist a white flag
on your behalf.
You will know what this means.
Your soul will throw the white flag of your effort
into the abyss of false mastery
where it will flutter downward
into the deep gorge and settle silently over boulders
strewn with thousands of other flags.
Then turn toward the soul of greater knowing
and offer yourself
as a servant to a master—
and become the servant of meditation.
We must become servants of meditation
so meditation will become our master
and show us what real life is all about.
Many people know about meditation, and talk about it nonstop.
For many, meditation is a movie—“Oh, yeah, I saw it.”
Intellectualizing about meditation is
as useless as a raincoat in a typhoon.
We can’t “know” about meditation,
just as we can’t “practice” meditation.
If we know and practice, it isn’t meditation.
All practice and knowledge is based knower and known, subject and object.
This is duality.
Duality is a useful way of understanding the world we live in,
it’s how we know to not step in front of a bus.
Duality, however, is a fatal error
when it comes time to be what we are.
Duality is to meditation
as an umbrella is to the falling sky.
Within meditation, there is no subject, no object.
Within meditation, the knower, known, and knowing
of common days and nights does not exist.
As for those who speak about non-duality,
thinking they have escaped duality—
well, no, one can’t speak about without being
separate from it.
Meditation means to look left, and see right.
Meditation is an equation
in which mirror and image have equal value.
Within the typhoon of meditation, there is no subject, no object:
no raincoat, no rain, no wind, no blown-apart buildings.
Within meditation, there is nothing else, or other.
Somehow, we’ve got to get used to this fact as the essential fact of life.
A sage once said,
“Reasoning and reason keep you far from it.”
It refers to meditation.
Why did the sage say that?
Because he meant it, that’s why.
Meditation is not reasonable.
Reason isn’t even a blip on the screen
of meditation’s radar.
Meditation does not comfort
the cardsharps, swindlers, and con men
who tell us to live safe little lives
and not rock the boat.
The boat needs to be rocked.
I am worlds within worlds,
mystery upon mystery,
love beyond love.
Meditation is what we are
after everything we think we are
hits the ground with the suddenness
of a hammer knocked from a bench.
What is the point of being reasonable about it?
Meditation is as reasonable as a three-legged Cyclops.
There is no free lunch.
Everything has a price, including meditation.
People who say meditation should be free
don’t know what they’re talking about.
Meditation is expensive, very expensive.
It costs more than most people are willing to pay,
which is why concentration is more popular—it costs less.
Of course, we get what we pay for.
The price of meditation is our life.
There is no getting around this.
In order to meditate, to know meditation,
to be absorbed into and by meditation,
we must die to everything we think and know,
everything we were and hope to be, everything we imagine and believe.
We must die.
And then comes the resurrection, so sublime, so vivid, so true.
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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock