By Vimala Thakar
Meditation is neither an act of concentration nor the means to an end. It is a way of life, where one has to go beyond the act of experiencing and discover the silent Self
The word ‘meditation’ has different meanings in the English and Oriental language. The English word ‘meditation’, derived from the root ‘to meditate’, refers to a person who meditates and a subject or a theme on which a person meditates. To meditate is to reflect and analyze. The word ‘dhyana’, became ‘chan’ in Tibet and China, and Zen in Japan.
Whether you call it dhyana or give it another name, it is an alternative way of living and not merely an activity of the brain. This includes the states of consciousness as well as the state of sensual movement when consciousness and its quality is expressed through the sense organs.
What is meditation? As I understand, it is a state of consciousness in which there is no centre as the ‘I’, ‘me’, or the ‘self’. The perception of consciousness itself divides life into two, the subject and the object. Such a division is not there in meditation. There is only holistic awareness. The awareness of the whole permeates the being. The sense organs in their behavior manifest that non-dual consciousness, the awareness of the unity of life.
Meditation is a dimensional transformation. It is the silencing of the centre of ‘me’. Through that silence is the emergence of a new energy of awareness. This new energy can see the world and act in a non-dual way without dividing life.
Meditation is a non-cerebral movement of the human consciousness, in harmony with the rhythm of life within. It cannot be the means to an end. Concentration can be the means to an end.
Concentration can relax the nerves, soothe the troubled psyche, create a chemical balance in the body, stimulate the latent powers of the mind and non-sensual experiences. People living in highly industrialized societies, going through tremendous mental strain, need to learn the art of concentration. Concentration, however, has nothing to do with spirituality, discovery of truth, liberation or nirvana. It is the opposite, strengthening the ‘I’ consciousness, widening the sphere of experiences.
Thus, one has to disillusion one’s mind about what meditation is. It is a transcendence of the conditioned brain. It is the growth of a person into a new dimension of consciousness where experiencing itself comes to an end, where the ‘I’ consciousness moves and fades into nothingness, where duality comes to an end and the fragmentary subject/object relationship with life subsides.
Unless one has an urge to find out what is beyond mind, the conditioned brain, what is beyond the act of experiencing, beyond the act of observation and the observer, the thought and the thinker, what is beyond space and time, what is beyond all these symbols, beyond the cerebral ways of behavior, unless there is an innate passion to find out, to discover for oneself, one will not be equipped to live the meditative way.
Meditation is a complete way of living, not a fragmentary activity. I do not know whether there is an oriental way of looking at it. Life is neither occidental nor oriental. Life is simple ‘is-ness’. It just ‘is’. The boundaries of race, country and religion, the frontiers of time and space are absolutely irrelevant to life and living.
Vimala Thakar is considered a ‘dharma’ heir to the thinker-philosopher J. Krishnamurti. It was on Krishnamurti’s behest that she became a powerful meditation teacher. She is also a social activist who has authored many books including On the Eternal Voyage.
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