Why Meditate? This is a very interesting question because at once most people need some reason to do something but at the same time if you do meditate with any ulterior motive it’s not meditation. But here I want to address some of the very important reasons, in a very loose and casual way, almost as if we are sitting on a bench in a park or having a walk and discussing this.
Life is a state of perpetual flux in which we are surrounded by an endless stream of temptations of activities and objects that we believe if we could perform or procure respectively would make our lives truly a paradise. It may be ‘Only if I could land that job in the Bay Area my life will be a success.’ or ‘If there was any way I could get her back in my life all would be well and we would live happily forever thereafter.‘ or ‘When I will get this studio apartment my life would be perfect.’ or something like this ‘Once I get a million followers I will be truly happy.‘.
Sometimes we do get what we want and sometimes we don’t but somehow our to-do lists get filled with new items much quicker and often before we could check off even half the items we already have. And by means and reasons whatsoever we keep chasing this endless loop of wants and needs. This loop keeps most of the individuals moving, striving for better resources and life.
This, in turn, propels the business and economy in general. This kind of looped movement is essential, it is by working together synchronously we have created this society of material abundance and wealth. Yet! Eventually! This movement starts building mechanically and compulsively, people no longer know why they are doing what they are doing and even when they want to stop they couldn’t, they seem to have little or no control.
When I look around, I see people running blindly spoiling their health, wealth and relationships I often wonder what is this movement all about? Is there any purpose behind it? If yes then what is it? What are we chasing? Is it really making our lives better? Are we happy? or Are we more anxious than any generation before us? And what is happiness in the first place? Is happiness just a pursuit? Isn’t the perceived illusion of free movement itself a bondage? Isn’t it a perpetual hamster wheel? Every time we are about to reach a goal suddenly our expectations rise, we run with all our might. But somehow the goal runs away from us. And we stay ever two steps away from happiness.
We are chasing such a blind necessity that millions of us today suffer through a variety of physical and mental issues and somehow some external object or position is a greater priority than our own health. We all seek for a mansion in Malibu forgetting that our body is the only place we have to truly live in. I once read somewhere “The same hammer that shatters the glass toughens the steel. It’s not about your circumstances, it’s about what you’re made of”.
This hamster wheel either makes one anxious and depressed, often leading to substance abuse. Or turns one into something of a tycoon or a capitalist with an unquenchable fire of desire, this leads to greed. And eventually, capitalism goes wrong and surpasses morality and humanity.
We go into a mall and buy some things like clothes and fruits and groceries and we feel vaguely disappointed that we gave away sheets of paper or digits on a screen for acquiring these delicious food items and aesthetic outfits. And then we get all sorts of funny notions like when we say “Money doesn’t grow on trees” of course it doesn’t. It is like saying inches don’t grow on trees because they are units of measurement, symbols mistaken for truth, money doesn’t really exist. And soon the money, the symbol of wealth and prosperity becomes more critical than tangible wealth, prosperity and health of people. America is a somewhat live example of this phenomenon.
But there is a third type of individual who takes a moment to process all of this and realizes that when the movement doesn’t serve, doesn’t it make sense to escape the hamster wheel propelled by twin modulations of attractions and aversions; likes and dislikes, to sit down and unwind? To still the mind? And contemplate what is this all about? And what for? Because it is when we get free of the clutter of thoughts, Taint of emotions and cultivate stillness we come alive to the moment, we see beyond the symbols and concepts of Reality into Reality Itself and a wave of Calm and Bliss hits us. We realize a reasonless happiness we always had within. An Immutable Bliss as our fundamental nature.
But should we then stop moving, changing, improving? No, we no longer move to fill a bottomless void in our hearts, we move to express our inherent nature of Calm and Bliss. And when we move in this way synthesizing “Stillness in Motion, and Motion in Stillness”. We realize that Stillness and Motion are just two poles of the same Blissful Reality. And then work becomes itself a Prayer, a Meditation. We can finally rest saying O Self! Do Thou! Be Blissful! This Blissful freedom to act with all the might and simultaneously to stay inert is the essence of all spirituality. Embrace the Bliss, Express It, Manifest It. We are Bliss!
The other two categories of people get lost in the motion forgetting what the motion was all about in the first place. The third one develops responsibility the ability to pick a suitable response to any encountered situation with ease similar to changing a song from a playlist and enact his highest and not egoistic will to change the situation.
You can change your response to cellular and atomic levels. And cultivate the understanding that he/she is responsible for the situation in which you already are. All successful people know this in one or another way. Robert Kiyosaki in his classic ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ writes something like this “If you find yourself in a hole. Well then just stop digging”
This, I think is the reason to meditate. It gives one a choice, true freedom. The ability to see things as they truly are and not get blinded by desires and fears, running and banging our heads here and there like a beast searching for prey while simultaneously being followed by a group of hunters. In this context, Lao Tzu provides valuable insight, says:
“The five colours blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavours dull the taste. Racing and hunting madden the mind. Precious things lead one astray. Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees. He lets go of that and chooses this.”.
In simple words, if one reduces the experience of reality into symbols for example if we reduce iridescence of sight into 5 colours or wilderness and vividness of taste into 5 tastes the sound of reality into 5 sounds or in what we call today as octave and if one overindulges in such symbols, he gets blinded by the symbols and mistakes them for Reality and he’s led astray. Therefore the Sage doesn’t dwell much on objects of senses and especially the symbols and prefers inner intuition over outer stimulation.