Meditation and Self-Observation
We have been talking about some of the preliminary steps that are required for any meditator. These steps start out first and foremost and foundational with the development of powerful attention. We have to learn to control our attention, how we pay attention. In Gnosis we call this Self-observation and Self-remembering.
Any individual who is trying to learn how to meditate but is not learning how to Self-observe at all times of the day and night will spend years being frustrated. Meditation is only deeper Self-observation. That is really all it is. It is deeper, it is more profound, it is more focused.
Without Self-observation there can be no Meditation. There can only be fantasy, and fantasy is the opposite of Meditation.
We meditate to understand the mind. Meditation is not a technique to have mystical experiences. You may have them, and if you persist then you definitely will. But it is not the point. Meditation is not about spacing out, it is about the opposite of that. It is about becoming extraordinarily perceptive. It is not about fantasizing; it is the opposite. It is not about getting high, or having ecstatic experiences. That may happen; but it is not the point. And Meditation can become another part of the cage of our mind if we stimulate our desire for experiences. Many become stuck there.
The real purpose of Meditation is to gather information about ourselves, to comprehend why we suffer and how we can change that. This is why we meditate. It has nothing to do with what most people call "religion," it has nothing to do with culture, with being with one sect or another group, or another club, or having a name or having a certain outfit that you wear. It has to do very simply with becoming a good human being. That is it. We meditate to become a good person. That is the real reason, the real motivation. Any other motivation is desire, is a false concept and will become a trap.
Once these things are somewhat understood and we begin to work with the Consciousness, to learn how to change, to stop acting mechanically, to change our anger, to change our habits, to begin to sacrifice things that are really irrelevant in our lives, from that place we can really learn what Meditation is. We can begin to see the truth about the Consciousness. But, as we have said, this requires a lot of sincerity, tremendous courage, and honesty. It does not mean you have to go and expose all your problems to everyone. It means you have to be brave enough to face your self-created illusions, the way you delude yourself, the way you keep yourself in ignorance, to be ignorant; ignoring the truth about yourself, your mind, how you are, how you behave, what you do, what you wish for. You can no longer avoid things if you want to understand what Meditation is.
Meditation is about change. It is about changing ourselves to become better people. And if you do not have that intention then you are wasting your time here. There are millions of other schools that can help you get a lot of money if that is what you really want, or get a lot of power, or be popular, or be good looking or attractive. If you want those things, obviously there are places that can help you, but at a price. Everything costs something. Nothing escapes that law. Everything costs, nothing is free. You can have power, you can have money, you can have sexual attraction; but at what price? In the Gospels it says:
For what does a man profiteth if he gained the whole world but loses his soul?
There are many levels to the mind; it is quite deep. The goal of Meditation, the goal of the path, is to make the unconscious conscious, to make the subconscious conscious and to make the infraconscious into Consciousness. We must become fully conscious of all these aspects of ourselves and thus make that 3% into 100%.
Meditation itself is exactly the same as growing a plant. To grow a plant you need certain causes and conditions. Meditation is the same. As long as we have the right causes and conditions then the result that we want will arise naturally, very easily, exactly like planting a seed. You clear the weeds, you make sure you have sun, air and light, sunlight. You plant the seeds and you make sure it stays clear of invaders like bugs or birds. You give it a little water and you wait. Meditation is exactly the same.
So first we must define the causes and conditions, what is it that we need and what is it that we do not need. It is really unfortunate that so many meditators and even Meditation teachers will meditate for years and years and be missing one ingredient, usually something simple. And it will keep them from really understanding Meditation and going further. You can encounter this sad truth in many places you go to study. The different instructors and schools may have a lot, but if they are missing one thing, some little thing, it is enough to keep the plant from growing. One thing. You can plant a seed but if it will not get any sun it will not grow. Or you can plant a seed but if there are a lot of weeds there the seed is going to be choked. It is not going to survive. It is the same with Meditation.
So Self-observation, ethics, these are causes and conditions that are required to know how to meditate. They are inescapable and unavoidable. They must be applied.
Learning to be mindful 24 hours a day is not easy and one cannot do it halfway. Everything you have must to be focused on that. It has to become your obsession, the main thing that you worry about, that you focus on: "How do I pay attention? How do I not pay attention? Where do I lose my attention? When do I start thinking again, start dreaming again, start fantasizing, worrying? What makes me do that? How do I change it?"
This may sound kind of boring; but without this condition there can be no awakening.
What is it to awaken? It is to see what one did not see before. Can such a thing happen automatically? Absolutely not! Nothing happens without causes and conditions, thus we can understand why so few people are positively awakened: because they have not produced the causes in themselves. However, there are many, many people who are awakening negatively, because they have become completely absorbed by their own ego. The universe exists because the causes and conditions came together in order to create it. Likewise, our physical body exists because of causes and conditions. Thus, we must awaken in the same way; it is not a matter of belief or faith: it a result of working to establish the proper combination of factors. The awakened Consciousness is an experiential state of perception that does not arise randomly or merely by wishing for it.
Self-observation is how we observe ourselves. Without it there can be no awakening. There can only be ideas and there can only be suffering. It is essential that we understand how to observe ourselves.