Petros Speaks on Meditation


Meditation is a gateway. It is a door that all can open, leading them to a truer vision of themselves, to a truer experience of what it means to live in the world, to a truer feeling of what it means to "be" consciousness working through a body.

While anyone can open this door of meditation, one's intent must be pure. That means simply that one must come to meditation with the intention of discovering the root of one's nature, discovering the timeless essence of who one is, rather than any desire to seek temporary relief, or any kind of mental escape. Meditation, if it deserves the name at all, must be something beyond the mind; it cannot be allowed to remain only a thing of the mind or of the imagination.

There are many, many different types and varieties of meditation that are taught today, in various traditions both East and West; there are Buddhist meditations, Vedantic meditations, New Age meditations, Sufi meditations, and so forth. The problem with seeing meditation as belonging to this or to that specific "type" is to see meditation as merely a product, a vehicle or means to an end, rather than as a state of being which in itself is beyond all types, all categories, all cause-and-effect, and certainly beyond narrow sectarian or ideological divisions. Although there is some utility in teaching specific forms of meditation suited to the unique capacities of different meditators, what I am concerned with is on the other side of these forms. In fact, to truly comprehend this fact is in itself to be in the condition of meditation, and to have transcended all "types."

The main thing about meditation is to allow it to come through you, rather than feeling as if it is something that you have to "do" in order to obtain a certain result. Many meditative systems are limited in that they require you to make some sort of effort to attempt to reach a goal, which may be enlightenment (which has numerous definitions!) or simply some stage imagined to lead up to enlightenment. This effort isn't always something strenuous or profound; it may in fact be a very subtle sort of inner effort, a mental determination; but the point here is that any sort of effort is almost certainly rooted in the conscious mind. Such effort has to be superficial, limited by the mind; and as such it is not a path to what meditation really means, which is going beyond the mind.

People will sit and meditate and put all their willpower into this practice, but the result of sending forth willpower is only itself a creation of that will, which is the same as another creation of the mind. The mind can never get beyond itself; in fact it has something of a vested interest, so to speak, in not permitting itself to come to a nice quiet stop. It is by its nature goal-oriented, so it will create goals which it keeps itself running toward, not realizing (or preferring not to realize) that it is only running in circles. This is the definition of the Sanskrit term "samsara," running in circles, doing the same things over and over again. The mind may even become so determined about its goal that it actually manufactures an imaginary achievement of that goal, which may take the form of a certain bliss or ecstasy, a vision or a sensation of light.

Things such as ecstasies and visions are not bad in themselves, necessarily; they can often give one the inspiration or motivation to keep meditating. But these phenomena are only the temporal effects of a temporal cause -- that is, the mind. Like all temporal effects they will sooner or later diminish and then evaporate, when the energy that sustained them diminishes. They are what the Buddhists call "conditioned" results, determined solely by the conditions that brought them into being, and thus limited in duration. It is easy for the novice meditator to confuse these sorts of effects with "enlightenment." Even those who have more modest goals in meditation, such as relaxation or peace of mind, will be temporarily satisfied with the brief blisses that extended willful meditation can produce, only to be brought back "down" again into material thinking and suffering, distraction and confusion.

From the truly enlightened point of view, real awakening must be "unconditioned" -- which is a rather philosophical way of stating that it is not something that you, as a meditator "willing" a meditation, can consciously bring into existence. Real awakening is a detachment from any sort of material or mental consideration, a letting-go of thoughts, a release of emotions, and even a sacrifice of the desire for awakening. The attitude that one takes in meditation, then, should be one of "nonwilling," nonexpectation; it means not trying to achieve any particular goal or end, but simply sitting for the sake of being still and allowing whatever things come up -- whatever images, thoughts, desires arise -- to do so without impeding them, without clinging to them, or mentally attempting to make more of them than they really are. What they are, of course, is nothing but mind-stuff, nothing but passing waves of thought. Meditation means not paying heed to these waves, but becoming identified with the ocean of which the waves are a part.

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