I learnt to meditate 40 years ago. I practiced esoteric forms of meditation taught by many teachers. I taught meditation to thousands. they all seemed happy and grateful.
I do not still know how to meditate.
I know the techniques. I know the theory. I can tell you what is to be done. I can teach you how to do it. But, I can’t meditate.
Nor can most who I know. Even those who call themselves gurus.
All that most people do is to pretend to meditate. They chant mantras. They watch their breath. They try to disengage from their thoughts. None of this is meditation. They are centering tools, levels below meditation.
I watch our dog (that’s Shangu, pictured above, one of the many free dogs in our neighborhood) and I am humbled. He does not pretend. He just is. Whatever he does, he is. He is always true to what he is. He is in the now.
Most of the time, when he is not chasing other dogs off our street that is, he relaxes. He is always in meditation. he is still. He is my guru.
To be still, I have to force myself. I say to myself, don’t fidget. I warn myself, don’t think of anything else. To be still, to be what I think is to be still, I need another crutch. I need a word, an action or a thought to replace what I do not want to think.
Everyone I know calls this meditation. It is not.
Buddhist monks talk about mindfulness. To be mindful they need to watch the breath. They need to keep their eyes on the ground. They cannot talk or read or watch TV. They avoid all activity to be in what they believe to be meditation. They call it mindfulness.
To be inactive is not meditation. To be active and yet not engaged in activity is meditation. To be disengaged from the results of any activity is meditation.
Stilling the body is of no help. One’s mind must be still. You can jog or swim or climb a mountain and yet be still within. I find my best moments of meditation when I walk. Meditation is the last thing on my mind and yet I am still. I know some who can sit for hours and watch the leaves flutter or the birds sing or the sun set .
All that’s fantastic. But, we live in the ‘real’ world. Krishna says, ‘Don’t ever be inactive. You are then as good as dead.’
A dog and a cat don’t try to be what they are. They just are. They don’t have the need to impress us by being good, wise or successful. They work as nature dictates.
Can we not do that? Can we not let our inner energy lead us?
Why do we need anyone to lead, guide, teach and train us, and to enslave and fool us?