Quote of the Day

Nov 7, 2023
It seems to me that it is only a mind in meditation that can affect fundamentally all our actions, our whole way of living. Meditation is not reserved for some hermit in the Himalayas, nor for a monk or a nun in a monastery; and when it is, it becomes an escape from life, a denial of the reality of living. Whereas, if you and I as two human beings, not as specialists, could find out what it means for the mind to be in the state of meditation, then perhaps that very perception would directly affect our actions and our whole way of life in confronting the many complex problems of modern existence.

Now, what is meditation, and what is the state of the mind that is capable of meditating? Who is the meditator, and what is it that he meditates about? There is the meditator and the meditation, is there not? And surely, without understanding the meditator, there can be no meditation. A man may be able to sit in what he calls profound meditation, but if his mind is petty, conditioned, limited, his meditation will have no meaning at all. It will be a form of self-hypnosis - which is what most of us call meditation. So, before asking how to meditate, or what system of meditation to follow, it is very important, isn't it?, to understand the meditator.

Let me put it in a different way. A superficial mind may be capable of quoting word for word various scriptures, but it does not thereby cease to be superficial. It may sit entranced by the object of its devotion, it may repeat mantra, it may try to fathom reality, or seek God; but being in its very nature a shallow mind, its so-called meditation will be equally shallow. When a petty mind thinks about God, its God is also petty. When a confused mind thinks about clarity, its clarity is only further confusion.

So it is very important to find out, first of all, what meditation means to the entity that wants to meditate. In what most of us call meditation, there is, is there not?, the thinker, the meditator who wishes to meditate in order to find peace, bliss, reality. The meditator says "If I am to find that reality, that bliss, that peace which I am seeking, I must discipline my mind", so he takes, inwardly or outwardly, a posture of meditation. But the mind is still petty, still confused, still narrow, prejudiced, jealous, vain, stupid; and such a mind, in seeking or inventing a system of meditation, will only be further limited along the lines of its own narrow conditioning.

That is why I say it is very important to begin by understanding the meditator. A monk in a monastery may spend hours in contemplation, in prayer, he may gaze endlessly upon the object of his devotion, whether made by the hand or by the mind; but such a mind is obviously committed, conditioned, it is seeking salvation according to its own limitations, and though it may meditate till Doomsday, it will never find reality. It can only imagine that it has found reality, and live in that comforting illusion - which is what most of us want. We want to build castles in the air, find a refuge where we shall never be disturbed, where our petty minds will never be shaken.

New Delhi, India | 8th Public Talk, 4th March 1959 Read full text