Yesterday I wrote that rules can become empty if you forget the sense why they were created. I was asked to give some examples which kind of rules that could be. Here in India people said that you should get up before sunrise and do the sun salutation, a series of yoga exercises, in the morning. There are many benefits to it. You have exercise and you can nearly feel the oxygen with which you fill your body in the morning and prepare yourself for the day. After a few rounds of sun salutation you are full of energy.
So this is really great for everyone to do it but religion made a rule of it and people had in mind ‘The priest said I have to do the sun salutation’ instead of ‘I feel that the sun salutation is good for me, just like the priest said!’
The same thing happened with Pranayama, the breathing exercises. It is obviously a great thing to do, for your lungs, for your blood pressure and your respiratory system. One of the exercises, Kapalabhati, is also good when you have diabetes. But when religion said you had to do this, there were people who said, just for wanting to be free, that they would not do it. They forgot how good it is for you.
In the case of meditation, doing it has become a sign of being spiritual or religious. Meditation is good for everybody¸ for concentration and focusing and also for relaxing the mind. However if you do it each morning because your religion tells you to, it becomes a ritual, but one that you do as a duty. And such a ritual often becomes a habit. Then its benefit is gone.
This is what I meant when I said that people forget the sense of rules. If you understand why a rule was created, it will not be a rule for you anymore. You don’t do it because you have to but because it makes sense.