The Path to No Path

What is Meditation?

What is meditation? After doing it intensively for many years, I must admit that I do not know. Yes, I did know at one time – or at least, it seemed to me that I knew, or at least that I was on the verge of knowing. Yet the more I have learned about it, the less I know about it.

One thing that I do know about meditation is that it is not an activity. It is not something that one practises, not something that one does. All meditation techniques are simply techniques – these techniques are not meditation. Before you can meditate, you must drop all techniques. Krishnamurti spent most of his life saying the same thing, yet it seems that scarcely any of his audience ever understood.

And if I were to say to you that to meditate, all you need to 'do' is to just be, would you understand that? I don't think that I would understand it. Actually, no, I do not understand it. This is something that I am exploring. It is said that meditation takes one to places which are beyond the capability of the thinking mind to understand. Certainly the English language contains no words that can be used in explanation.

When I say to people “All you need is to just be”, they retort with “But I already am! I'm right here! Can't you see me?” What I am trying to convey is that you can just simply be, without doing things. The doing of things by the thinking mind is what gets in the way.

Yet we are so strongly identified with this mind that we can not conceive of how we could even exist without it. "Cogito ergo sum" – "I think, therefore I am", as Descartes pointed out. If who “I” is, is the thinking mind, then his statement is obviously true.

So before we dare 'drop the mind', or even dare contemplate such an idea (and it can indeed be a frightening idea), we first need to find a better understanding of who we are.

Through meditation practice, we may come to the realisation that “I am whoever it is that is doing the observing; I am not the observed”. This is a step forward. We have gained a slight separation from the thinking mind, the first wedge on our path to freedom. Once this is our reality, there is no turning back. This shift in perspective brings us great joy – we have gained a little taste of freedom.

Yet, if you think about it, to say that “I am the observer” is clearly absurd. Who knows this? Who is the I who claims it is the observer? If you can find the silence, and allow yourself to sink into it deeply enough, you may realise afterwards that for a time, you as the observer had disappeared. This can lead to the observation that “I am the process of observing” – notice the shift from a noun to a verb form, from fixity to flowingness as Carl Rogers might have said.

Yet there is still some way to go before we can say, as God said to Moses when Moses asked him how he might be called, as author of the ten commandments: “I am that I am”. This might be translated very crudely as “I am existence”, or better as “I am what existing is”.

Beyond this point, it seems that nothing can be said – there is nobody to say it. There is no more thinking mind, forever getting into mischief and suffering unhappily as a consequence. There is just simply being.

And please don't ask me “How do I achieve this state of simply being?” There is no how to it.

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If you should wish to contact me about anything you have read here, especially if you feel strongly for or against what you have read, or if you feel that something is missing, I offer you an opportunity to share.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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