I am sure you have often heard a very common but in my eyes wrong definition of what meditation is. People say meditation is the practice of bringing your mind to thoughtlessness. It is a state where you think nothing, zero, where your mind is fully empty. I believe that this is not possible. I would even go further and say that this idea is used to make a lot of business these days!
It is not possible. Have you ever reached that state? I don’t think so. Have you met someone who claims to have reached there? I don’t think so and if yes, where is the proof? Who knows if that is true? It is just like the claim that god exists or that he or she is omnipotent – you cannot see that, you cannot touch it, who knows? Where is any evidence for the fact that there is god or that it is possible not to think anything at all?
It may sound nice on the first thought but it practically is just impossible. What is most people’s first step of guidance towards this ‘empty mind’? You need to concentrate on nothing! You are engaging your mind to the point that you should not think anything. There will always be something, even if it is just the thought and wish not to think anything!
Look at it in this way: your belly is there to digest and it needs food. Your eyes are there for sight and they need something to see. Your ears are there for noises and they need to hear something. Your mind is there for thoughts and it needs to think. It cannot live without, there will always be a thought. If you don’t eat, you will die of hunger. What happens if you don’t think? Your mind cannot survive without thoughts.
No matter how nicely the idea is presented, there is always the question: why would you want to be so cruel to your mind? The subject of your mind is thought and taking away all thoughts is like taking away the food that your mind lives on! Why don’t you provide it with some nice nutrition instead? It is nice to think! Don’t keep your mind malnourished – and reducing your thoughts to zero would mean entering a state of craziness or apathy.
So why are there people who tell you this should be your goal? Because they want to do business. There has never been a better business strategy than making your clients want something that they can never achieve and then offering the solution to at least partially reach there. You are told that a state that cannot exist is complete bliss. Now you should go and run for it, buying whatever they sell in order to reach there. It is the same people who sell god and who sell miracles, like materializing ashes or gold, something that is simply not possible. They just got a bit cleverer and now sell meditation. Their customers enter a never-ending cycle, striving for something unachievable again and again in their courses, searching for a state their master claims to have achieved.
To be fair, I believe most yoga and meditation teachers spread this idea because they have been fooled themselves by another master, believing this would be a great state of mind. In fact, I have only met very few people who actually claim that they have reached this thoughtlessness. A few people are confused and say they probably have achieved it for a minute or two. A big majority however honestly admits that they have not been anywhere close to this goal. They have been trying a lot but could not reach there. The result is that they feel bad, inferior to those who claim that they have managed to achieve complete thoughtlessness.
It doesn’t matter whether you are the one who tells others about it or the one who listens to the instructions, take some time to think about my words and then start concentrating on thinking something nice instead of thinking nothing at all!
After stirring the emotions up a bit with this entry, I will continue talking about other aspects of meditation tomorrow.