|Pic by Ordinary Malaysian|
I know, I know, some of you are already getting hot under the collar and wanting to jump up and put me in my place. Good for you, this means you are alive unlike the characters mentioned. Don't believe? Then call on them to answer.
They can't? And I am unfair?
Well, they can't. But I am not too certain I am unfair.
For me at least, if enlightenment is so helpless that such a mundane thing as answering someone is an impossible thing to do, you can entertain or fool yourself with it. I am not interested.
Now, not to get distracted and to get back to meditation.
What is meditation? I myself have no idea about it. And I am not interested in definitions.
If you are interested, there are probably thousands of definitions out there. Just google meditation.
And equally, there may be thousands of ways or methods to meditate.
Just sit quietly. Okay, okay this is easier said than done.
So, we need a little help, a little discipline perhaps. Not because we are naughty and deserve some discipline. I myself hate discipline. The very word itself is so violent - so ugly! Discipline is the ugliest word in the English vocabulary.
But our mind is a funny thing. It is a restless monkey, constantly jumping up and down, constantly chattering. Don't believe again?
Try this little experiment. Go to a quiet place. Try to remain silent. Try not to think of anything. Close your eyes if you have to, to help you. Are you really silent?
You may be physically silent. No sounds come out from you. But are you really silent?
No, I don't think you are. And you know it too. Even while you are "remaining silent", you mind is making all kinds of noises, constantly chattering away. And the thoughts that come aren't even connected one to the other. They are really quite unrelated and tangential. They are really crazy, the thoughts that come unbidden.
It is this mind, this monkey that we need to rein in a little.
So, find a quiet place, sit down and cross your legs in the lotus position, like in the picture of buddha above. Okay, in case someone wants to nitpick, that's a half-lotus position.
Full-lotus or half-lotus, either of the positions can be quite painful for those who are not used to them. If you don't want to use the lotus position or are unable to, find a chair and try to sit upright and comfortably.
Close your eyes. And because the mind as you have seen is a constant chatter-box, we need some device to keep it from running helter-skelter .
There are many devices including chanting mantras. And really, any word or words that you chant continuously become (s) a mantra. There is no need for "holy" mantras. It was said that one inadvertent smart or rather sleepy alec once chanted "mara", "mara", that is, "devil", 'devil" instead of "rama", "rama" or "god", "god" and got enlightened.
But trust me, chanting mantras can put you to sleep. I would prefer focusing on your breathing to help you calm down the mind, because breathing is the most natural thing we do.
Close your eyes to help shut out outside distractions. Become aware of your in and out breaths. Follow the breaths, now you are breathing in and now your are breathing out. Now you are breathing in and now you are breathing out. Just keep on following the flow of in and out breaths.
As you are doing this, being aware of the in and out breaths, your mind will still run around. Thoughts will still come and go. Don't be distracted by them. Don't judge or colour them. Don't give life to them. Let the thoughts come and let them go. And keep going on being aware of your in and out breaths.
As you keep on observing your breathing, your mind will become more and more settled. Less and less thoughts will arise. Your mind will become more and more still.
As you carry on, you will find that for once, you are really silent and you will feel calm and quiet. At one stage you may even feel that you have stopped breathing as the in and out breaths become more and more shallow. Don't panic.
For some, you may even feel that your body is so light that it is not there. Again, don't panic. Keep on being aware.
Some may even have "visions". Just let them come and go. Don't be stuck with them. You just keep your awareness. Really, for those advanced in meditation, that's the only thing that remains - this pure awareness. And sometimes even this disappears. And you are just.....
Enlightenment? Ask buddha, ask christ, ask lao tzu. I don't know and I don't want to talk about it. I don't care.
I am not interested whether you call the mediation vipassana or insight or whatever meditation.