What is the Purpose of Meditation?

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Why do people meditate?  Why do people do anything?  Most people do something to gain something – people are motivated by economics.  We meditate because we are aware of the health benefits, and want them for ourselves.  But for a realized yogi, a Buddhist lama, a Sufi sheikh, or a spiritual master of any tradition, the mere physical and mental benefits of meditation have been transcended.  Now there is no purpose per se, and meditation becomes a foundational resting place of pure awareness.

For the well-practiced, meditation is a space where the integrated self (consciousness, body, mind) begin to disperse.  It is a stepping back into pure awareness, to marinate in the realization that the body and mind are apart from the True Self.  In this inner silence, the identification with the body and the mind break down.  Here, it dawns on you that the True You comes through your mind, your body, but they are not the True You.  With that realization, all suffering ends, and fear dissipates.

The only suffering we have ever known has come through the body, or the mind.  With the end of suffering comes the end of the self-preserving mind.  There is no more “what will I lose?” or “how can I avoid pain?”  With the end of fear comes the end of the utilitarian mind.  There is no more “what’s in it for me?” or “what will I get out of this?”  We become naturally inclusive with the world and all that is in it.  It’s rather ironic that in our attempt to keep ourselves safe, we are actually placing huge limitations on ourselves.  We keep our guard up in order to keep the ego safe, and it is precisely that ego-self that is the source of all our suffering!

Only when we transcend our constant yearning for safety, do we become truly spiritual.  We want safety because we are identified with the body and with the mind.  When practiced continually, meditation creates some awareness of distance between these constituents we feel: the gross physical body, the subtle mind, and the non-physical consciousness.  And being true consciousness, we can never be harmed.  In that realization we are free to just be life spontaneously, acting according to the emerging situation instead of ego-feeding or self-preservation.  That is what meditation opens the door to.

And now let’s ask a deeper question:  What is looking for a purpose in the first place?  Who is searching for a purpose?  It is we, identified as the ego, who go on looking for a purpose for meditation, a purpose for life even.  Once we let go of that and all identifications, then actually the question of seeking purpose vanishes.  The question becomes unnecessary because pure consciousness needs no such thing, it is all pervasive and ever perceptive.

So paradoxically, the purpose of meditation is to dissolve the seeker who is searching for the purpose.

 

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