Stop ‘Doing’ Your Meditation

By this I do not mean stop meditating. What I mean is let go of the idea that “you” are there to do anything or make anything happen. “You” are not. True spirituality teaches that “you” are the source of your suffering. Meditation is about letting go of the “small you” that is suffering so that you can recognize the “big you” that is peaceful and blissful regardless of circumstance. This is what I call “right effort”. I want to be very clear, for me true spirituality is not about “fixing you” it’s about getting rid of of the “you” that is the source of your suffering.

So when you sit down to do your meditation notice if you are bringing any expectation with you or are trying to feel any specific way or make anything happen. While “mystical experiences” can happen in meditation, and can be transformative for some, very often they are coopted by the small-self, the ego-self, afterwards and can cause more trouble than they are worth. These kinds of WOW experiences are not necessary or even helpful in spiritual awakening. If we think we did it, we made it happen through our effort, then we are probably headed in the wrong direction with our spirituality. 

As I said in an earlier post this week, all spiritual awakening is a “mistake”, a state of grace, you don’t make it happen and no one can wake someone else up. Someone may be able to give you a glimpse of something, move some shakti around, make you ‘feel high’, but that is not spiritual awakening and again, can lead to a lot of confusion. True spiritual awakening is about that which does not come and go. It is about the eternal, the “unchanging self”, or as a buddhist would put it no-self.

By meditating you are setting up the conditions through which this ‘mistake’, this ‘state of grace’, is more likely to happen. I often use the analogy of a farmer or gardener. The farmer does not grow anything, nature does. Stuff grows without farmers, but nothing grows without natures help. As Dr. Diller likes to say “a doctor does not heal anyone, the body heals, and the doctor helps to create the conditions in which the body can do that”. So while a farmer can do certain things and work with nature to help her crops grow, in the end, a bountiful crop, or any crop for that matter, is the result of nature doing its very important part. If there is a drought, fire, infestation, disease, then there may be a small crop or no crop that season. The farmer is never in control of what is happening, although she can fool herself into thinking she is. I like to tell students “you definitely don’t have control, at best you have a little influence”. 

So when meditating it is important to let go of the illusion that you are doing something. One of the most powerful realizations we can have in meditation is you are not doing anything, even when you think you are. And I mean never. You don’t decide anything, you don’t think anything, you don’t get up or sit down, it’s all done to you and for you. 

So when you are meditating and you drift off into a “daydream”, or you are bombarded with thoughts and emotions, and all of a sudden you “come back”, and you realize your state or condition, that is a state of grace. You didn’t “realize” anything. You were lost in thought and might have stayed that way forever. But something, again not “you”, woke you up to the state of your mind. 

Now, I would like to make a very important point. Instead of getting upset that “you” had gotten lost in a daydream for so long, instead be grateful that Awakeness woke up in you at all! Give thanks and feel joy because there was no guarantee that it would happen, ever!!! It was a little miracle, so pause and give thanks. You can thank your “big-self”, God, buddha-nature, Allah, Shiva, the Tao, Emptiness, the Holy-Spirit, it does not really matter. Just know that the “little you”, the “you” you identify with, the “you” that is upset, the “you” that does not get the respect it deserves, the “you” that was victimized in the past, the “you” that has so many problems, didn’t do it.

At the end of the day it all boils down to “who” or “what” is this “you” that you keep referring to as your “self”? We may think this is an easy question to answer, but if you believe that then it means you have not actually seriously considered or pondered it. When you really look for this “self”, this “you” you are so busy trying to “awaken”, you find there is no one there. And that my friend is awakening!

Once again, I have to caution you against just reading this and thinking you “get it” because you understand this intellectually. While intellectual understanding can be an aid, mostly by inspiring us to practice and helping to steer us away from pit-falls that would waste a lot of time, it is not a replacement for realization. How do we get realization? Like the farmer, we set up the conditions under which realization can happen to us. I call that Zazen or true meditation. To be clear, “you” never wake up. Instead “Awakeness” wakes up from the dream of “you”. And make no mistake, once you are spiritually awake you could say the real work begins.

Jai Bhagwan