Monday, 16 July 2012

The Anatomy of Meditation (part 2) Maxwell Cade Foundation


It is enormously important that we should be quite, quite clear in our minds concerning the distinction between the absolutely essential mental development exercises which precede true meditation and meditation itself.

 Krishnamurti says:
"If you deliberately take an attitude, a posture, in order to meditate, then it may become a plaything, a toy of the mind. If you determine to escape from the confusion and the misery of life, then it becomes an experience of the imagination  and this is not meditation. The conscious mind and the personal unconscious mind must have no part in it: they must not even be aware of the extent and beauty of meditation. If they are, then you might just as well go and buy a romantic novel.


At the moment of illumination, thought withers away, and the conscious effort to experience and the remembrance of it, is the word that has been."

"Meditation", says Claudio Naranjo, "is concerned with the development of a PRESENCE, a modality of being, which may be expressed or developed in whatever situation
the individual may be involved. This presence or mode of being transforms whatever it touches. If its medium is movement, it will turn to dance; if stillness, into live sculpture; if thinking, into the higher reaches of intuition; if sensing, into a merging with the miracle of being; if feeling, into love: if singing, into sacred utterance; if speaking, into prayer or poetry; if doing the things of ordinary life, into a ritual in the name of God or a celebration of existence." [Notes 1 & 2]

Just as the spirit of our times is technique oriented in its dealings with the external world, it is technique oriented in its approach to psychological or spiritual reality. Yet, while numerous schools propound this or that method as a solution to human problems, we
know that it is not merely the method, but THE WAY IN WHICH IT IS EMPLOYED that determines its effectiveness, whether in psychotherapy, art or education. The application of techniques or tools in an interpersonal situation depends upon an almost intangible “human factor" in the teacher, guide or psychotherapist. When within the self, as is the case with methods of meditation, the human factor beyond the method becomes even more elusive. . .

The question of the RIGHT ATTITUDE on the part of the meditator is the hardest for meditation teachers to transmit, and though it is the object of most supervision, it may be apprehended only through practice. It might be said that the attitude, or "inner posture" is
both the path and the goal of the meditator. For the subtle, invisible HOW is not merely a HOW T0 MEDITATE but a HOW TO BE, which in meditation is exercised in a simplified situation. And precisely because of its elusive quality.... the attitude that is the heart of
meditation is generally sought after in the most simple external or "technical" situations - in stillness, silence, monotony, "just sitting".

Just as we do not see the stars in daylight, but only in the absence of the sun, we may never taste the subtle essence of meditation in the daylight of ordinary activity in all its complexity. That essence may be revealed when we have suspended everything else but US, our presence, our attitude, beyond any activity or lack of it. Whatever the outer situation, the inner task is simplified, so that nothing remains but to gaze at a candle, listen to the hum in our own ears or "do nothing". We may then discover that there are innumerable ways of gazing, listening, doing nothing (and also,innumerable ways of NOT just gazing, NOT just listening, NOT just sitting). Against the background of simplicity
required by the exercise, we may become aware of ourselves and all that we bring to the situation, and we may begin to grasp experientiaíly the question of ATTITUDE.

While practice in most activities implies the development of habits and the establishment of conditioning, the practice of meditation can be better understood as quite the opposite: a persistent effort to detect apd become free from all conditioning, compulsive
functioning of mind and body, the habitual emotional responses that may contaminate the utterly simple situation required by the participant. This is why it may be said that the attitude of the meditator is both his path and his goal; the unconditioned state is the freedom of attainment and also the target of every single effort. what the meditator realizes in his practice is to a large extent HOW HE FAILS T0 MEDITATE PROPERLY, and by becoming aware of his failings he gains understanding and the ability to let go of his wrong way. The right way, the desired attitude, is what remains when we have stepped out of the way.

1. From "On the Psychology of Meditation" by Robert
Ornstein and Claudio Naranjo.

2. Max comments further: "Naranjo's commentary is enormously illuminating, if only because he highlights the paradox that, in learning to meditate, it is necessary to work in a manner that is Contrary to the ultimate aim. As Naranjo says, meditation is most readily
learned in a simplified situation, away from the hurly­ burly of life. Yet, as the Japanese Zenist, Lin Tsi says, ’To concentrate one’s mind, or to dislike noisy places and seek only for stillness is the characteristic of heterodox Dhyana. It is easy to keep self­=possession in a
place of tranquility, yet it is by no means easy to keep mind undisturbed amid the bivouac of actual life. It is true Dhyana that makes our mind sunny while the storms of strife rage around us. It is true Dhyana that secures the harmony of heart, while the surges of struggle toss us violently.'

"The same paradox arises in relation to training in the production of alpha rhythm states. Most students find that, at first, opening the eyes, forming mental images,thinking in a focused, logical manner, all cause the alpha rhythm to disappear. Usually it is necessary to
have a quiet environment and to keep the mind very still and restful in order to learn to produce ’continuous alpha’. Yet it is only by slowly and painstakingly training oneself to maintain alpha while the eyes are open, while the mind is forming images, while one
experiences emotions, while one solves problems, that one eventually gains 'fifth state' consciousness, in which one's everyday state of mind is infused with continuous bilateral alpha rhythms of a particularly persistent and self­-petuating kind.

This complete contradiction between the approach to learning quiescent mental states and the approach to their utilization is the cause of a great deal of confusion to students of meditation. They often ask, ’What are the ultimate benefits  , and the teacher must
truthfully reply that they fare largely in the form of better and more effective mental and physical interaction with the everyday world: I: Yet their early lessons are often in the form of both physical and mental retreat from the world !

"Also, we must remember the words of Krishnamurti:
’Do not think that meditation is a continuance and an expansion of ordinary experience. . ...'. It is not, and in its higher reaches, where it passes over into mystical experience, it is ineffable and therefore cannot be discussed at all except with someone who has had the same experience. Perhaps the worst effect of this is that it makes the student cling, still more, to outward forms and to believe that SOMEHOW, if he could only see how, meditation could be understood 'scientifically' through a study of the techniques."

Maxwell Cade Foundation  The Anatomy of Meditation

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