I read a story a while ago that has remained in the back chamber of my mind but lately when I sit down for morning meditation, the words of that story have been surfacing to haunt me. So this morning I really looked at this story and I allowed the words to seep into my consciousness until a light shown through them. The story goes something like this: a head monk was about to do his daily meditation but he felt thirsty so he asked his disciples to fetch him a glass of water. By the time they returned, the head monk had fallen into a deep meditation…..so deep that he came out of it 30 years later. And the first thing that came to his mind was his thirst and he wondered why his disciples had not yet brought him the glass of water.
Mediation is not about staying in one place. The mind must not become dull. If meditation is to be real, it must be a 24-hour affair. How can one meditate and not be connected to the world around him? Is meditation a halting of the mind? That cannot be. Meditation is alive, flowing, the mind does not stop, the neurons continue to send signals to itself and to the rest of the body. That is its job. And it is clear that a quiet mind is not a stagnant or dull mind. Meditation is awareness and that happens with the eyes wide open, the mind wide open, and above all the heart wide open. Although, I do find sitting down in quiet, ‘dark’ meditation relaxing and, at times, rejuvenating, I wonder…how can I meditate and remain in complete touch with the life around me all the time. What is the point of meditating, quieting my mind, if as soon as I ‘come out of’ the meditative state, my mind is in the same chaotic mess it was in before? I do not want to ask for the same glass of water 30 years later. So, it seems to me that since meditation is awareness, and the awareness must be constant, then meditation must be in such a way that one is always meditating. So the way one meditates changes. It is no longer the ‘I will sit down and quiet my mind, etc, etc,’ it is ‘I will be aware of everything inside and outside of myself all the time.’ It can only be this way, otherwise it is like a game that one starts and finishes. We are not machines to be turned on and off.
So is there any point in sitting down for a quiet, in-depth meditation? Yes, I believe there is. It is a time when we can really look at a question, we can place a situation at the center of our being and search through it until we see it from all sides, until the light shines through it and the question inevitably disappears. One never knows how long the inquiry will last nor how long it will take for the light to shine through and dissolve the question….hours, days, months, years….who know? But I can guarantee that it eventually does.