What do we do when we sit down and meditate? First of all, whenever we give importance to a belief we erect a barrier. You do it because you have been told to do it. Secondly, if you sit down and meditate, your mind wanders hopelessly all over the place. Because you have been told, that your mind is subtle and that you must concentrate on one idea and exclude all other ideas, you spend your time in conflict, trying to concentrate on one idea, while all the time your mind flits all over the place. If you sit in front of a picture you try to concentrate on that picture, or else on a word or on a phrase or an a quality. Because of your desire to be secure, you concentrate on something positive, like a picture or a phrase or an idea, or a quality. The idea has generally been formulated by the mind or taken out of a book. This is what we do and this is the actual picture, is it not? I do not know if you sit down and meditate, perhaps you do not; if you do, is that not what really, actually takes place? Now, is that meditation?
So far we have considered a man that can fix his mind on one thing, as if this were something remarkable. If he can fix in his mind the idea of God which is an idea created by himself, or a word, or a phrase, and be consumed by that idea, that word, that phrase, you think he is a great religious man; and then you will also say that the man knows how to create. Isn't it so? What I mean is that the mind being vagrant, wandering, disorderly, but seeking orderliness, security, pursues one exclusive idea, generally a verbal idea; and when someone can dwell completely in an idea and be identified with it, we call him a great man. Yet the idea is a mere projection. The phrase is made by the man, is it not? The word is repeated by the man. So, as long as there is repetition, you are putting yourself in a trance by means of a phrase, a word, an idea; and going far into a trance, you will call that meditation, which is only identification with a projected idea; because reality is inconceivable, unknowable and you cannot think about the unknowable, you can only think about the knowable. And what you know is not the truth and therefore when you create the known you only experience a process of self-hypnosis. Is that meditation? To go into a trance, to concentrate on a thing with which you are completely identified, which is a projection of yourself? Is that not what we are doing? Is that right? What we do restlessly when in meditation is merely moving from the known to the known and therefore it is not the discovery of the unknown. After all, man is the result of the past and when the mind thinks of something in the future, it has translated the past into the future and therefore it is not the real. So if this is not the true process, then what is the true process? How to discover the unknown is the problem. After all the purpose of meditation is to discover reality, not to hypnotize yourself about the reality. Meditation is, after all, the discovery of beauty, love. But you can discover nothing by mesmerizing yourself, or by becoming stupefied by a phrase, or by a map, or by concentrating on something which is exclusive of all else. it is a form of self-hypnosis.
Public Talk 9th November, 1947