Author Topic: Meditation - Working definition  (Read 2694 times)

Middleway

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Meditation - Working definition
« on: April 17, 2014, 02:32:38 AM »
Folks, I found this definition of meditation in a book on eastern philosophy (Nisargadatta Maharaj). As a beginner, I would like to solicit your opinion on it. Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks.

Middleway

"Meditation is a deliberate attempt to pierce into the higher states of consciousness and finally go beyond it. The art of meditation is the art of shifting the focus of attention to ever subtler levels, without losing one’s grip on the levels left behind. In a way it is like having death under control.

One begins with the lowest levels: social circumstances, customs and habits; physical surroundings, the posture and the breathing of the body; the senses, their sensations and perceptions; the mind, its thoughts and feelings; until the entire mechanism of personality is grasped and firmly held.

The final stage of meditation is reached when the sense of identity goes beyond the ‘I am-so-and-so’, beyond ‘so-I-am’, beyond ‘I-am-the-witness-only’, beyond ‘there-is’, beyond all ideas into the impersonally personal pure being".
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Just A Simple Guy

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Re: Meditation - Working definition
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 10:45:31 AM »
If we're speaking of mindfulness meditation I like Jon Kabat-Zinn's operational definition. It's paying attention on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmentally.

The way I look at it is wherever that leads is a byproduct of the practice, not the practice itself. It's kind of like what Bruce Lee said about Jeet Kune Do:

"Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back."

So I see it as a means to an end, but not an end in and of itself. And no, I have no clue what the end is. I'm just enjoying the journey.   ;D
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 12:06:51 PM by Just A Simple Guy »
“Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.” ~ Bruce Lee

Middleway

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    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Re: Meditation - Working definition
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2014, 03:42:17 PM »
Thanks Simple Guy. The problem with me is that I have been raised to believe that there is a purpose for my existence, and that I have to fulfill it by following a certain path. This sometimes comes in the way to "simply be" and focus my attention to the present in a non-judgmental way.

Middleway
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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Re: Meditation - Working definition
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2014, 09:10:55 PM »
... The problem with me is that I have been raised to believe that there is a purpose for my existence, and that I have to fulfill it by following a certain path. This sometimes comes in the way to "simply be" and focus my attention to the present in a non-judgmental way.
...

Hello Middleway,

Welcome to the forum. The above quoted post is quite important in understanding meditation and why you feel a need to pin it down and classify/rationalise it. Reading the working definition you posted had me wondering how to answer yet your reply makes the response simpler.

Mediation is many things in many different traditions. Trying to pin down the philosophical roots before beginning the practice plays into the trap of the rational storytelling mind yet buddhist meditation is very much about moving beyond this mind, this need to pin things down in words, this need to know through the intellect: knowing through wordless experience is the real value of the practice, knowing the moment through being in the moment.

That's why your original post seemed impenetrable to me: it's full of the contradictions that necessarily follow from the attempt to vocalise experience beyond that of the wordy intellect and storytelling mind.

impersonally personal ..... Now there's a conundrum!

Instead of seeking a working definition of meditation I'd suggest finding a working experience of it. The further down the rabbit hole you go the less words have value so attempting to comprehend the end at the beginning is futile.

Kind regards,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Middleway

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    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Re: Meditation - Working definition
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2014, 04:17:52 PM »
Thanks Matthew. It is not about pinning it down and classifying/rationalizing. To me, it is about having the right understanding so that it does not become a blind belief and does not result in a fundamentalist ideology. I think the right understanding will act as a foundation to further my practice, while I fully realize my understanding will evolve as I continue my practice.

Yes, language has limitations and unfortunately one has to use it to vocalize and communicate one's experience to others. Using the same mind to go beyond it...now that's the real conundrum.  :)

Warm regards,

Middleway
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Meditation - Working definition
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2014, 09:01:19 PM »
Thanks Matthew. It is not about pinning it down and classifying/rationalizing. To me, it is about having the right understanding so that it does not become a blind belief and does not result in a fundamentalist ideology. I think the right understanding will act as a foundation to further my practice, while I fully realize my understanding will evolve as I continue my practice.
Perhaps the over ruling understanding is that you need to take your current requirements for understanding and throw them out the window. There can be some very elaborate, very wordy explanations and frameworks for meditation but they're mainly to aid people who need things explained in such a way. It's not like a lot of other religion where you digest some fables and philosophy and you're there.

You could subscribe to the definition you've quoted, at it's essence what you're attempting to do in meditation is stop and let go. I can write those words and you can read them but until you experience the reality of those words they won't hold much importance.

Middleway

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  • Just be a witness.
    • Vipassana as taught by Mr. Goenka - Switched to Shamatha
Re: Meditation - Working definition
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2014, 11:00:39 PM »
Matthew,

Using the same mind to go beyond it...now that's the real conundrum.  :)


This statement was intended to be lighthearted joke.

Warm regards,

Middleway
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Meditation - Working definition
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 07:33:07 AM »
You could subscribe to the definition you've quoted, at it's essence what you're attempting to do in meditation is stop and let go. I can write those words and you can read them but until you experience the reality of those words they won't hold much importance.

Nicely put.

Matthew,

Using the same mind to go beyond it...now that's the real conundrum.  :)


This statement was intended to be lighthearted joke.
...

There's significant truth in it. If the motivation behind practising is to "move beyond" ego, then your ego has made a choice to suicide :) this is where it gets tricky for a lot of people as ego is not a solid thing, a self, but a collection of processes built on processes .... some of then make this choice to suicide whilst others (and perhaps more deeply rooted) will work to the end of the earth to derail the work.

Right understanding is important Middleway but you won't be able to understand the end of the path till you get there. Understanding the general direction and the steps you are on is IMHO more productive.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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