The meditative life is not limited to sitting down someplace quietly, nor is it limited to someplace in time where we can control conditions so that we can experience something of a quiet mind. It can be said that meditation is the active relationship that an individual has with the whole of his or her life.
Indeed, if we were able to see clearly enough into our own life, we would see something that is in itself an invitation to meditation: we are always off balance.
Curiously, and what takes time to discover, is that individuals in this world are so used to being in search of balance that the search for balance has become their sense of balance. This is a phenomenon that has to be seen interiorly in order to understand it.
Are we in balance or out of balance when we’re unhappy, afraid, lonely, ambitious, excited, or anxious? For example, you’re at the supermarket, and you ask the produce man why the price of lettuce is so high. He gives you a reason, and for the next five minutes you think about lettuce. Do you even see the person in front of you? No. You’re not aware of anything because you’re caught up in worrying about lettuce world! It sounds silly, but the fact of the matter is, when that kind of thinking is going on, aren’t we looking for a way to resolve the disturbance that’s inside of us? Are we not looking for a way to find what we would call the center of ourselves, a neutralizing balance, so that we don’t feel the disturbance anymore? If we’re going to understand what it means to have a meditative life, we must understand this.
All it takes is a thought or feeling, a piece of news, and we’re rocked off center. The “center” becomes something “out there” having to do with the condition that knocked us down — an opposite in the mind of what we imagine will finally restore the sense of stability that was lost prior to the blow we received.
Every single day, we are on a mission to bring balance to ourselves — achieving nothing but to throw ourselves further out of balance. Our life becomes a kind of reeling to and fro, and afterward we say balance is the search for that moment where at last we won’t feel like we’re going to fall down. That is not what balance is! A person has to look at his or her life and see very clearly that the pursuit of balance is not the same thing as balance.
If we are walking along and someone bumps into us, the sensory capacity of our body will instantaneously seek balance. We have become wrongly captive of the idea that being balanced, centered, is a sensation like that. In contrast, true balance is an awareness, just like beauty or stillness. Stillness doesn’t have a center; it’s everywhere. Awareness of stillness — and the stillness that one is aware of — are one thing, which means that real awareness has no center. There is nothing to be gained. It is already there. Likewise, beauty has no direction, which means that its center is everywhere. Everywhere we look it’s the whole thing. . . and so it is with real balance.
How would we know how to walk straight unless there was the idea of a balance that already existed as a rectification between opposites? It is the same thing when it comes to being still. When we’re quiet — whether we’re sitting in silence or walking down the street doing a walking meditation — we must learn to recognize those thoughts and feelings that push and pull on us. We must start to become conscious of their movement, because it is their movement that presently drives us to seek balance. If we let them go as they come up, balance is there. That is meditation: letting go to be where balance already is the center of everything in us.
Question: What is meditation, and is there some “best” method for its practice?
Answer: Real meditation is our willingness and work to be aware of what we are in relationship with within ourselves twenty-four hours a day. To answer what is the best method of meditation, we must first understand the purpose of meditation. True meditation allows us to enter into relationship and “to be” with those parts of ourselves that await us within and above ourselves. With this in mind, the best meditation is the one that not only helps pave the way for this communion, but permits it to flourish and to establish our hearts in ever-successive heights.
How many of us spend our precious time and energy fuming over what others may have done to us? Unseen in the steam of our heated emotions and churning thoughts is the one inescapable fact that we are the secret prisoner of anyone we wish to punish. And the more we would punish this person, the less freedom we have to be at peace with ourselves.
We can never hope to be free as long as any part of us struggles with, or suffers over what others are doing, have done, or won’t do with their lives. Besides, if we could remain aware of the often-compromised state of our own character, that is, how we still do those things to others that we don’t want to do, this awakened conscience would stir in us a new need. Rather than worrying about whether so-and-so gets his comeuppance for being the kind of person he is, our attention would be elsewhere. It would be focused fully upon being in the Now of our own life wherein we would be actively attending to what we must do to let go of old resentments that won’t let go of us!
Leave these people alone to their own trials and torment, for their negative nature is one and the same as their punishment; and further, whatever weight we would try to add on to their backs only falls onto our own. To act from this higher self-awareness not only helps free us from the initial pain born of a negative reaction to what others have done to us, but it also keeps us from wrongly investing ourselves in trying to correct what is already in the throes of being corrected! And once we stop locking ourselves up with wasted judgments and their attendant, never-ending worries, we find that not only are we free, but that there’s no power in the universe capable of holding us captive again.