This is a long article By V.S. Shankar about meditation and practice. This issue have been always big and somehow important to me;
‘Tat Tvam Asi’, ‘Aham Brahmaasmi’: words of wisdom they surely are, but are they revered by one and all or, at least, by the spiritually-minded and the spiritually-acclaimed? Is the meaning of these wise words totally understood? ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ and ‘Aham Brahmaasmi’ mean ‘That Thou Art’ and ‘Thou Art Brahman’. These adages are not followed up with instructions to meditate.
Before that, it is rather important to recollect who uttered these wise words. They were obviously uttered by enlightened beings, for who else could have realised them? They are specific and leave no room for the existence of an individual who is a doer as a reality. These words proclaim that only the real exists and that reality is God, life, existence or intelligence.
The words also mean to convey that the recognisable entities, and there are many in this world, need to be illusory and not real. These words correlate with the proclamation of enlightened beings that the world is ‘Maya’, meaning illusory. These illusory, recognisable entities were few and far between in primitive times as compared to the present day, and this only reflects the degree of sophistication of the world.
So, there is no doubt that these words were uttered by enlightened beings. Man does not seem to remember them nor has he understood them. He appears to know these words, but knowing is not understanding: to know is knowledge, which is dead. But why have they been forgotten? Would man forget them or is it that life has made him forget? His forgetfulness cannot be a reality because to ‘forget’ would then be a reality and the proclamation ‘That Thou Art or Thou Art Brahman’ would not be true.
Man has not forgotten for to forget is not within his control. If to forget were real, he would always forget and there would be nothing that he could remember. Would a world be possible for such a man? It would be, and it is the case, for it is not man who thinks - thinking happens to man. If thinking is up to man, then he would never forget, and why would he? To forget means that the particular thought did not happen to him. To forget is proof that man does not think and that thinking happens to him. If he has to remember, and remembering were real, then he would always remember and never forget.
The enlightened beings were those to whom the wise words ‘That Thou Art or Thou Art Brahman’ were revealed. They understood that man is not the doer. If he is not the doer, it also means that he is not the speaker or the thinker. Both the speaking and the thinking happen to man. He is not the doer for life is not eventful, only the mind is. Life is a transformation-process of energy that is reflected as a singular movement, which is spontaneous, uncontrollable and unpredictable. This singular movement is projected as actions, which are an optical illusion. It must be understood that actions are thoughts, which are an auditory illusion of sound. The body, which includes speaking, is a movement of light, while the mind with its thoughts and thinking-process is a movement of sound. That is why ‘That Thou Art or Thou Art Brahman’ .
The enlightened beings could not have brought about meditation techniques. They were enlightened for they had realised that man was not the doer. They could not possibly have instructed man to meditate for they would certainly have realised that life is a singular movement and actions are not possible in life, as life is timeless and thoughtless. Thinking, speaking and the thought of actions happened to man and he did not make them happen. Thinking, speaking and the movement of the body, illusory though they may be, reflect the depth of understanding that has happened to man. Therefore, surely the enlightened beings could not possibly have brought about meditation techniques. It is wise to remember that the enlightened beings known to man have never asked him ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’ anything, let alone meditation. If they had, then they would not have realised ‘That Thou Art or Thou Art Brahman’
Meditation is an English word and its Sanskrit equivalent is ‘Dyaan’ meaning to contemplate. The word contemplate means ‘to understand’. Men to whom contemplation happened understood that the world, man and his mind, including time, were illusory. The understanding revealed enlightenment to such men and they came to be known as enlightened beings. Meditation does not mean an act. Life has made man believe that meditation indicates an act. If the world is illusory, meditation too has to be illusory and it only needs to be understood that it is so.
The enlightened beings in contemplation assumed a sitting position and asked men to contemplate, meaning ‘Dyaan’. Sitting was the movement that happened to them. The word ‘sitting’ happened later to the mind as part of sophistication. Man did not understand what contemplation could be. He believed that the enlightened beings asssumed a sitting position to contemplate, and life’s intelligence was so precise that at that very moment ‘Dyaan’ or meditation, as it is known, became an act. Thus, man believed that ‘Dyaan’ was an act that needs to be done to achieve peace or enlightenment. The enlightened beings realised that sitting too was not an act but a movement that appeared as an act to the mind. To men to whom such a realistion did not happen, the movement became an act and remained as knowledge, and remains as such ever since. So, the wise words ‘That Thou Art or Thou Art Brahman’ faded away from memory as life made man trust the mind and not life to maintain the illusory world.
During the sophistication of man, life gifted enlightened beings with understanding and another group of men with knowledge. As life progressed languages began to appear with a concomitant increase in knowledge. A specialised knowledge called spirituality soon emerged and meditation became part and parcel of spirituality. The enlightened beings understood that knowledge is illusory and is required to maintain the illusion, while man believed that knowledge conveyed the truth and so was convinced that meditation would reveal enlightenment, if practised. To practise meditation time and mind would be required and both of them are absent in life. Meditation only instils the desire to meditate more and nothing else. Life is a process of transformation of energy, which happens spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably every moment. The proclamation of the enlightened beings that life is a manifestation of light and sound, ‘bindu’ and ‘naada’, holds good.
But why does man wish to meditate? He believes that meditation will still the mind or make the mind peaceful. How true can this be? If the world were illusory, would not the stillness and peace too be illusory? It most certainly would. And what is the point in stilling the mind when it is not present in life? None at all, to say the least. But how could the mind be stilled when thoughts are in constant motion as is the body? Would not stilling the mind, and that is if it were possible, bring the functions of the mind to a stop? It certainly would mean just that and, if the functions were stopped, would man be able to appreciate and admire the illusory manifestation of God? If the ego were false, and it is so, and the spiritualists confirm it too, then would not every effort be false, and that includes the effort to meditate?
How would man still the mind? Does he not have to use the mind to still the mind? If the mind were restless and needed to be stilled, how could a restless mind bring about stillness? Would not the effort to still the mind make it more restless? This is the finding of man that, no matter how many years he believes that he is meditating or doing meditation, he is nevertheless restless at the drop of a coin. If he were really practising meditation for many years or generations, he should have become still or peaceful by now. Looking at the state of man, it is quite obvious that he is as far from being peaceful as he ever was.
Could the peace felt by man, no matter how temporary, be real? And what value could there be in peace if it were temporary? This would mean that peace, which man so desires, would always be temporary and not permanent. But is it peace that he experiences as a result of meditation? How could it be when an experience is just a thought in the mind and not an actuality in space and time? This is a contradiction more than anything else because life is causeless and effectless and, if meditation results in peace, then it would be the cause and peace the result.
The fabric of the mind is duality. Duality happened to the mind and man did not make it happen. Why would he only to be entangled in its reality, if it could be that? God or life very meticulously and precisely manifested duality to manifest an illusion. God or life did so, so that an understanding could happen to illusory man that the world with its duality is illusory, which would allow enlightenment to reveal itself.
Duality happened when opposite words came close together and united, and this generated a meaning. The moment that meaning came into the mind, the words that were in union were separated, but joined together by meaning, and hence duality was born. Transcendence happens when the opposites unite again in unison, thereby obliterating duality. An understanding that opposites are not separate but are joined together makes the transcendence happen, though, as long as duality is present as a reality within the mind, the world will appear real to man. Understanding reveals that life is an optical and auditory illusion of light and sound.
Man is restless if thoughts are many within his mind and thoughts, being dual, will contradict each other: the contradiction results in restlessness. Therefore, when thoughts are minimal, a false impression of peace is experienced, and this is exactly what happens with meditation. Man is asked to concentrate on one thought or to focus on a spot: for example, the area between the eyebrows, which is considered as the third eye, spiritually speaking. The body too is a thought in the mind, and so would the third eye be. What good could a third eye be when the visible two have not brought in peace?
Recitation of mantras induces deception in much the same way. Instead of a single thought, a group of thoughts gets repeated giving rise to a false sense of peace, and strengthens hope for enlightenment. Man is unique in every moment for he changes every moment, so it can never be the same man who can concentrate on a single or a group of thoughts. If repetition of mantras could lead to enlightenment, all parrots would have been enlightened by now. Man is lost in a web of deception and when anything is enchanting, as is meditation, the possibility of bondage to it is obvious and a certainty.
Is it possible for man to meditate or practise meditation? It cannot be for he is not the doer. To meditate or practise it the same man is required to be present in life, but he is never the same in any moment because he is a collection of energy, which transforms every moment into a new man - and that is why man ages. If it were the same man that is present in life, he or she would never age. Therefore, meditation or its related techniques can never be done because man is not the doer, and they can never be practised for a different man is present in life every moment. This is why 'That Thou Art or Thou Art Brahman’ holds good. Moreover, if meditation and its related techniques were real, it would produce the result the very instant they are executed. There would be no need to practise. That they need to be practised is proof of their illusoriness.
Life makes meditation happen to man so that he will understand that it happens to him and he cannot possibly do it, and the thought that he does is an optical illusion of action, and the peace he feels is merely the absence of thoughts that disturb him. They will come rushing back once the mind begins to think of daily life. The peace is always during meditation and never after. Man pays a price for meditation and the price is life that is lost with the hope of becoming enlightened. The investment is huge while the dividend is minimal, if not zero. Life once lost remains lost and can never be regained.
What is it that makes man believe that the mind will become peaceful by meditation? It is an intelligent deception. For example, if man does not like the position of an object or the presence of an object, he simply shifts its position or discards it and replaces it with another. The same mechanism applies to humans too, which leads to a change in relationship or divorce. Life makes the shift and the change, and not man, and the belief that he does reflects superficial understanding. This makes him believe that thoughts too can be controlled and that meditation is the way to go about it. If man can control his thoughts, why meditate at all? He could simply stop the thinking or think of thoughts that would bring in peace. Life makes this happen to man so that he may understand that thinking happens and he does not make it happen. This understanding, and not meditation, reveals enlightenment that he so longs for.
If meditation were an act, and it is not, it would make any act meditation. Making coffee does not appear as meditation for it takes a few minutes, while it is believed that meditation should last for many hours. The longer the hours of meditation the greater is the chance of enlightenment, so it is believed. It is merely a belief and a belief is never the truth. The truth can never be the known by the mind. Meditation happens to man so that he may understand that even coffee-making happens to him. This understanding reveals that life is a spontaneous, singular movement in the timeless and thoughtless ‘now’, and to live in the moment is enlightenment. Meditation makes you think in terms of time and, whenever time is present, you are in the mind and not in life.
Your innate nature is a meditative state; life is a meditative state. You are always meditating and you need not meditate to be in a meditative state. You are in a meditative state whether you like it or not. Every moment is a meditative moment for man has not made the moment nor the illusion within the moment. Every moment is light and sound, which projects an optical and auditory illusory manifestation that includes meditation.
Meditation makes man feel superior to the other. It implicates him as the doer, which he is not, the very thing he is trying to get rid of through meditation. Man’s efforts defeat the purpose of meditation. Real means that which does not change and is eternal. Hence, if meditation were real, there would not be another act in the world; man would be in an meditative act eternally - this is the meaning of oneness. Meditation, therefore, cannot be an exclusive act. If it were, then daily life would not be possible. Since daily life is made up of multiple events, they cannot be real either; they need to be illusory, and that is what they are.
Live every moment, and this is meditation because you will be in life, which is a meditative state. Even if a single thought is present in the mind, and it appears real, you will not be meditating. Meditation is a sophistication of the singular movement from birth until death, and not an act. This is merely an in-depth analysis; it is not meant to infuriate or contradict anyone. It is only meant to indicate the intelligence of life to manifest and maintain its illusions. If man gets upset or infuriated, it is proof that meditation has not delivered the promise of peace and enlightenment. And if ‘That Thou Art or Thou Art Brahman’ were true, who could man be?
V.S. Shankar, 2008