David Nichtern: Meeting Our Minds: Is Meditation Practical?
The practice of meditation allows us to look directly at who we are. It has a kind of naive quality to it in that we don't assume anything. Buddhist practice is similar to the scientific method in that we recognize that as soon as we make an assumption about something we usually get stuck there. We have all experienced being stuck with our assumptions. For example if we assume somebody will love us forever and then they leave -- then we're stuck. Generally, we make lots of assumptions all the time, big and small.
Somehow, in the way most of us were raised, we were never invited to look directly at our own mind and see what it actually is. We assumed that we had a kind of base camp, a perspective, a place to look from called "I" -- and that from there we could look at other things, right? So we can look at, for example, a color -- we can explore colors. We can explore people's personalities or emotions. We can even look at our own personality and emotions. We can explore all these things with our mind, but we have hardly ever looked at the mind itself that's doing the looking.
We've been driving this vehicle along -- this car called the ME-MOBILE. Maybe it's a Mercedes; maybe it's one of those VW's with the electric guitar you can plug right into it; maybe it's an old jalopy. This is the ME-HICLE. But we never stopped the car, and just raised the hood, and looked underneath to see what is in there. Meditation is kind of an innocent thing to do but it can interrupt the momentum created by our assumptions -- like "I think there's a big Self and a little self; or a higher consciousness and a lower consciousness; or I don't believe there's anything out there at all; or some stuff is out there and some is in here; or I believe in this, I don't believe in that."
We rarely if ever look at the "I" that's making all those assumptions. Our meditation practice, rather then being theoretical or metaphysical, is extremely personal and direct -- it's highly experiential.
The practice also has a theory and a method to it. We could just blindfold ourselves and go into a dark room and just stumble around for a while, but in this case there's a method to how we explore, there's a simple but elegant technique. There's a way of looking into this thing we call our mind, and exploring who and what we are, directly and without any kind of intermediary.
(see previous post -- Taking Your Seat: Simple Meditation Instructions For Ordinary People)
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