What do we Mean by Meditation?
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Elmau, Bavaria on 19th September 1975
Now we will start with our subject of Meditation. The question arises, “What do we mean by Meditation?” Meditation is really the same as contemplative prayer, it is the same as what is expressed in the Sanskrit word samādhi. It is what the mystics of the world have called the unio mystica. You will see from this statement that Meditation really is actual communion here and now all through our life. This, as far as I can present it, is the complete meaning of Meditation, which is obviously different from the common meaning which you find in the dictionary of a process of musing, or thinking something out. The state of communion is one where there is no disturbance of man’s thinking process. Therefore you will see that Meditation is that which is the fruition, the culminating point, of what we begin as a technique of thought or a ritual of feeling and states of mind, all of which are partial and temporary expressions, which are only the shadows of the reality which is the state of Meditation, communion, total communion.
Now I am going to say something which perhaps may be a bit surprising. All the world, the whole universe, is actually in the state of communion. It is in the state of complete relationship between every separate, particular item within itself, complete relationship between each and every item as such, and complete relationship between each item and the totality. This is the actual state of the universe, unconsciously. Take the case of a breeze blowing. When the breeze blows, the branches of trees will move, they will sway in the breeze, and the extent and the manner in which they sway is wholly dependent upon the way in which the breeze blows. The elasticity of the living branch offers a certain resistance of the force of the wind, but everything is in exact proportion, nothing goes wrong. The branches of the tree have no choice in the matter. This is how they are, this is the eternal order of things, a process which is a process of natural harmony, an unconscious harmony. All nature observes this. With man there is a difference. The branch of the tree, as far as we know, cannot look inside itself and say, “Ah, the breeze is blowing this way but I will move that way, or, if I like, I will move with the direction of the wind.” It has no choice. Man is the one and only creature who has this power of choice, of saying yes or no to the forces of life which are consciously playing with him. Man is conscious of himself. A dog does not know “I am a dog.” A mosquito does not know “I am a mosquito.” A stone does not know. But you and I know that I am myself, you are yourself, we have a self-consciousness associated with our power of choice. What has gone wrong with the human race, or shall I put it in a better way, what has not yet come to fulfilment and fruition in the human race, is the intelligence to perceive the nature of things, the great order of the universe, and deliberately, consciously, live in harmony with it, giving oneself to it, not being in conflict with the world around and with the world within ourselves, our world of desire and thought and feeling and ambition and so on, but to let a perfect harmony come into being.
This is Meditation, the state of Meditation, the state of actual communion. Now I trust I have said enough to convey some idea, only an idea, of what is meant by communion, by Meditation. Let us now immediately try out a little experiment. Let us just quietly, in our own mind and consciousness, be in communion and observe what happens in the mind, just two or three minutes, no more. You may keep your eyes open or closed, just as you please.
What did you observe happening? Was the brain continuously talking silently? Did you find the mind wandering here and there, becoming so self-conscious that it could no longer really be in tune with everything, over-active? Did you find any bodily tensions and strains interfering with the simple being in communion? Were there mental reactions when, for example, we heard the sound of that motor as it went past? Note carefully, it is the reaction from oneself to the sound, not the pure registration of the sound. The pure registration of the sound, or of a sight or anything, is not a disturbance of the communion, because, remember, in the state of communion the stillness includes all motion and activity. The silence includes all sound. The silence and stillness of Meditation is a state in which there is no self-conscious reaction against or for what you hear or see. Then you are in harmony. If we think of this inward harmony, this silence and stillness as we have called it throughout the centuries, as something static, not to be disturbed, like when you put a notice outside the door, “Busy, not to be disturbed”, then the process of the universe should stop. But it doesn’t, it just goes on. The universal process is the harmony. As I have suggested already, it is our reaction, either against it or for it, which is the disharmony.
You will see that what is involved here is the act of pure attentiveness. Now we must be very clear as to what we mean by this. It is not a deliberate attending to a preconceived object of attention. The object of attention may be as exalted as God, if you like, but pure attentiveness is not an attending to a preconceived object of attention. Take for instance paying attention to the Divine, to Transcendence, to God, to the Master, to Beauty, to Truth and so forth. What am I actually paying attention to? Only my own concept of it. How can I pay attention to the Infinite, to the Total Reality, how can I? I cannot attend to the Infinite, to the Immeasurable as an object of attention. I can only attend to a thought in my mind, “This is God.” Of course my thought is certainly not God, the reality. You see the point. So we deceive ourselves, either when we pray in a church or a temple or when we enter into a contemplative state or when we practise a technique of meditation. We deceive ourselves that this is of the true nature of communion.
Let us come back to what we started with. All the universe is in communion unconsciously, naturally. I, the ordinary man, am not in communion. But if that inside me which spoils the communion was not present, then communion would be my natural condition, natural and spontaneous throughout all my life. So you see, I don’t have to strive, to struggle, to achieve Meditation, communion, perfection. That is the natural state, if you like to put it that way, what was intended in the universal scheme, the original intention in the mind of God, if you like to put it in theistic terms. Therefore my task is to come to know what is there inside me which spoils it. And when I know that and understand that, really understand it, then I have cleaned away that fog, that cloud, that dust inside my own being, which prevents this being from also being in total communion. Is that clear? So in our earlier aspiring and attempting to be in communion, our task is very simply the task of purification, nothing else.
In our little experiment which we tried for just a couple of minutes we saw all sorts of things inside us which prevent that communion. Now we must not make the mistake of saying, “I must get rid of these obstructions.” It is not like sweeping all the little bits of paper, or dust, or whatever there may be in a room, putting it into a dustpan or something and throwing it away, outside into a dustbin, and then the room is clean. The removing of the dirt certainly means that the room is clean, you can’t buy a bottle of cleanness and sprinkle it all round and say, “Now the room is clean”, because the litter is still there. Nor is it in this case, where the mind is concerned, a case of collecting all the dirt and taking it outside. Why? There is no outside. All that which is in my own mind and heart, which prevents communion, is my mind itself. The mind is ill, it is sick. When the body is ill you don’t throw the body away into the dustbin, do you? You have to heal it. In the same way we have to heal the mind. Let the mind get healed, get whole. That is very important. It is not I who do anything, it is the Total Transcendent Reality which just is there waiting to come out in perfection and beauty. The moment we see, really see, what obstructs, then the obstruction is removed, the illness of the mind is healed. Then we are totally in communion, in the state of Meditation.
It is only then that we are truly human, because that is the meaning of the word human, the creature who is the happy creator. The Sanskrit root of the word man, really means to be conscious in such a manner that his mind is the perpetual source of creation. That is the root meaning of the word man. You will see that this meaning really is the meaning of the word God, too. We always call God the Creator, and we say that God is in everlasting bliss. Now in the word human, the hu– part, interchangeable in Sanskrit with su–, means happy, not happy in the sense of being satisfied with a desired result, but happy because its natural creative power simply pours itself out in perfect creation. That is the meaning of the word human, the happy creator, naturally, spontaneously. So the state of communion is the state of the happy creator. You don’t have to produce the evidence of this creation in terms of writing books or writing symphonies or building wonderful buildings, or producing a marvellous new educational system, or a sociological structure or anything, not at all. You, the living person, are the source of continuous creation like Gods … like. It is Divine in quality, in other words, it is pure, it is perfect. This is what we must understand.
Let us just try it again for a minute or two, and bear in mind that, since our task is to heal ourselves of the illnesses of the mind, being able to see these illnesses and recognise them as such is the very means for the realization of Transcendence. If there were not demons inside me, there could be no angels either. I alone can convert those demons inside me, heal them and make them have golden wings instead of terrible horns and red eyes! I myself can do that. That is one’s personal and individual responsibility. That is why no other person can save you. I know this goes quite against the belief of hundreds of millions of people that their teacher, whether it be Jesus or Muhammad or Zarathushtra or anybody, is their Saviour. The Saviour saves vicariously only if we ourselves let it happen. But we must open our own eyes and we have to work in order to let it happen. Is your hunger satisfied if somebody else, your proxy, eats for you? Your hunger is not satisfied, you have to eat yourself. And if you eat yourself, can you ask somebody else to digest on your behalf, do your work for you? You can’t. You have to do it yourself. There is a tremendous self-responsibility. You know how when for instance Jesus performs his healing miracles, the healing takes place because the man has repented of his sin. What does that mean? He see this is ill, he really sees, and he turns right away from it. And then Jesus says, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” and the man is healed. It is not that he does some wonderful voodoo or magic or something, and the man is healed, not at all. Our part has to come first, and this everlasting grace, this everlasting mystery, this marvel, this wonder of existence functions freely through us.
So let us just observe one or two points in connection with the body, because the body interferes with Meditation a lot. Let the body be at ease, no strains, no tensions in the body. Let it be perfectly comfortable and poised. All strains in the body represent associated strains in the psyche. Psychical, mental disorder or strain is associated with bodily strains also, because this is a psycho-physical organism. It is not just a physical organism, it is psycho-physical organism. So when the body is in poise and at ease, the strains in the psyche also release and there is an increasing peace in the mind, an active peace, active peace. So let the body release all its strains … just feel the different parts of the body where the muscles are tense, especially with the neck. Let the lower jaw release its tensions, and you will find that tensions round the eyes disappear. And when that happens you will find that your thought will be calm and it will flow peacefully. Remain intensely alert in mind, very alert, wide awake and just breathe easily and comfortably … You will find that the movement of the diaphragm will be very gentle and rhythmic as you breathe in and out, very gently Now this gentle rhythm of the breath is your own distinctive life-rhythm, and when it flows so naturally, so comfortably that you do not have to make it flow naturally, then your state of harmony with the life-rhythm of the world around you is established.