The Basics of Meditation

[This is first of the many essays that I wrote in the early nineties. At that time I tried to marry the western take (Scientology) with the eastern knowledge (Hinduism and Buddhism) on the subject of LOOKING. The western take is interesting, but, where fundamentals are concerned, I am still exploring the eastern knowledge that I grew up with.]

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To meditate is “to engage in deep and serious thought.” It suggests focusing the thoughts on a subject from every point of view, to understand all its sides and relations. Thus, the process of meditation involves viewing something thoroughly. The end product of meditation is to perceive something for what it truly is.

What happens when you view something thoroughly? It disappears. For example, when you perceive a problem in its entirety it ceases to be a problem because you can do something about it. Similarly, the moment you recognize the source of some confusion, the confusion disappears as its pieces fall in place. You will notice that difficulties persist as long as you keep thinking of ways to avoid them. But the moment you decide to face them, and view them thoroughly, they disappear.

Confusions, problems, and difficulties are mere appearances. They are an altered view of what the truth is. They persist as long as the underlying truth remains hidden. The practice of meditation helps you look beyond the appearances. When that happens the appearances disappear.

The concept of maya in Hinduism is just that. Maya may be looked upon as the layers of ignorance enveloping the mind. When meditation is practiced, maya peels off like the layers of onion. The basics of meditation are not that complex. When they are understood and followed the results are far reaching and beyond all expectations.

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LOOKING

Meditation is the process of looking, not thinking. Thinking is often used to avoid looking at things to such a degree that it degenerates into a never-ending “figure-figure.” In meditation one simply looks. If there is any thinking at all, it is to find out where to look.

The only thing that can be said about looking is that to look one must be willing to be there and face things without flinching or avoiding. If you cannot be there then you cannot look and experience. Thus, in meditation, after closing one’s eyes, one simply decides to be there.

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BEING THERE

The first step in meditation is to sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Do not move or do anything. Just be there. Make sure you have had enough to eat and rest. You do not want your body to distract you from being there as an observer.

You may assume a lotus position but that is not necessary. The necessary part is to keep your back straight and upright. You may sit in a straight-backed chair if that is more comfortable. When sitting in a chair, however, you must keep feet flat on the floor, and hands in the lap.

After closing your eyes, simply observe what is there. At first, you may perceive only blackness. But soon you may become aware of light and darkness, various sounds and smells, the temperature in the room, the pull of gravity, the taste in your mouth, and scores of other such perceptions from the body. The mind may present pictures of current or past situations, thoughts, emotions and conclusions.

It is important to understand who is observing. The body’s eyes are closed so you cannot be the body. You are observing the mind so you cannot be the mind. Who are you then? In meditation you simply are an observer. And as you meditate you would discover many things about yourself.

As you sit with your eyes closed all kind of things will come up, some flattering and some not so flattering. Do not get into any justification or “figure-figure.” Just be there and face them. Your sense of perception may heighten as a result.

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CONFRONTING

The essential part of being there is to face without flinching or avoiding. This is called confronting. Pictures may come up that remind you of something embarrassing or painful. The normal reaction would be to flinch and look away. But in meditation you must continue to be there and confront them, no matter how painful and embarrassing that may be. As you persevere such painful pictures will disappear.

There may be a tendency to squirm, twitch, move or change position. This occurs when you encounter something difficult to confront but you are not yet aware of it. Make sure before you start meditating that you are in a comfortable position. Then just be there without moving or doing anything else. However, if the discomfort becomes too much, it does no good to suppress it. When that happens, it is better to readjust your body in a comfortable position and then restart the session all over again.

During meditation, certain physical reactions may occur, such as, stabs of pain, drowsiness, dullness of senses, twitches in muscles, and so on. Do not do anything. Do not resist or try to suppress them. Just be there and confront. These physical reactions will disappear after some time.

There is a safety factor built into the mind. That is, the mind would never present something so embarrassing, discomforting, or painful that it is overwhelming. Just be there with whatever comes up. It is important that you let the mind present things to you, and not to present things to the mind. If you find yourself getting involved in thoughts or doing something else mentally then simply realize this fact and do nothing else. This will get you back to just being there.

As you confront the material presented by the mind, new realizations occur. Your ability to confront comes up, and as this happens, the mind finds it safe to present more material that you were not aware of before. And so it continues.

Try ending each session of meditation at a point when some persisting reaction has just gone away. Do not end a session while you are in the middle of such a reaction. The end result of meditation is not necessarily more information but it is a heightened awareness of who you are and an increased confidence in your being.

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SUMMARY

Meditation is an adventure. You embark on it to become more aware. It helps you discover the causes of conditions and gain control over them. And the results are beyond any expectations.

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[Comment added March 15, 2012]

“Being there” actually translates as “putting no resistance there.” When you are not putting any resistance then any and all distractions will simply flow through you and discharge.  The distractions, such as reactions, will persist only if you resist them.

Confronting doesn’t mean that you resist either. Actually, when you resist then you are not confronting. When you do not resist mentally, nothing can push you around.

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Comments

  • Kevin Osborne  On February 9, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    The above is mostly BS, but what the hell. You’ll learn.

    • vinaire  On February 9, 2012 at 8:14 AM

      Yes, you may be quite right. I am just an explorer.

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    • loftycrane  On February 9, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      @Kevin – Interesting ad-hominem with altitude! LOL.

      • Kevin Osborne  On February 10, 2012 at 3:14 AM

        God is interest, but don’t worry. I won’t get a big head.

  • vinaire  On February 9, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    It is interesting for me to observe that many scientologists have called me a “squirrel” because I am “altering Scientology practice.” “Squirreling” is a derogatory term, which many scientologists use to look down on others.

    But, by the same token one may say that scientologists are squirreling Buddhism. However, I am glad that there is no similar term in Buddhism, and that Buddhists do not look down upon others who do not practice knowledge their way.

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    • vinaire  On February 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

      The Catholic church also uses a term similar to “squirrel.” They use the term “heretic”. This kind of thinking seems to imply, “We are right and you are wrong.”

      This is a very arrogant way of thinking. It is not helpful to anybody. That is my opinion.

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      • vinaire  On February 9, 2012 at 9:09 AM

        Cultural Dictionary
        heretic definition

        One who challenges the doctrines of an established church. Martin Luther was proclaimed a heretic for rejecting many of the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church.

        .

  • Kevin Osborne  On February 10, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Vincenzo and I are old friends, and fellow explorers. In another life I was known as Nexus100, a vehicle with oversized fins and too much horsepower.
    Now all has changed, except for nearly everything.

  • vinaire  On March 15, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    This article on meditation may remind one of Scientology Drill TR0; but the technique in this article is fundamentally different. Actually, I used to think this is how one practices TR0, but I was corrected by Scientologists that it was not so. Scientology TR0 focuses on confronting another person.

    The above article is based on Vipassana meditation. The essential principle of this technique is, “Look at things for what they are,” and not alloy them with one’s opinions or viewpoint.

    This technique has now been further explained as “KHTK Looking.”

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