Meditation and Emptying the Mind

An empty mind doesn't mean a zombie mind. In fact, it can bring us to greater clarity, spirituality, and even a higher IQ.

BY: Shinzen Young


Is the goal of meditation to turn off thinking and achieve an inner silence or no-mind state? Some teachers would answer yes, and some would answer definitely not. Very confusing to the beginning student of meditation!

Compounding the confusion is fear. Does meditation make one into a mindless zombie, subject to others' control, perhaps even vulnerable to demonic influence? Some ill-informed religious teachers go so far as to discourage meditation, forgetting what the Bible itself says: "Be still and know that I am the Lord."

The issue is not so much the presence or absence of thought activity during meditation; rather, it is the degree to which one's thought activity is driven, unconscious, and fixated.

Do the Thoughts Ever Stop?

A Buddhist monk says yes and explains how slowing the internal chatter can bring genuine peace. By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Most of us are literally addicted to thinking. Even the most addicted substance abuser can go a few hours between "fixes," but most human beings cannot abide even a few seconds without some sort of "thought fix." If there's nothing significant to think about, we fill the void with fantasy and trivia.

Simply stated, meditation breaks the addiction to thinking. One is then in a highly desirable situation. When you want to have a complete experience of hearing and feeling (for example, as you listen to music), you can do so without being pulled compulsively into thoughts that are not relevant to the music. When you want to have a complete experience of tasting and feeling, as when enjoying a bite of food, you can do that too.

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