The True Purpose of and Strategies for Meditation

To reach enlightenment, only two skills are required: No thought. No time.

First, let’s tackle no thought. To accomplish this, meditation must be regularly practiced. It’s fine for beginning meditators to have thoughts, but they must practice not being attached to those thoughts. They need to learn to watch the river of thoughts flow without judgment and without adding more thoughts. That’s the beginning of acquiring a peaceful mind, a non-reactive mind.

Over time, the raging river slows until it becomes a quiet pool. But still, the awareness of the pool is separate. With continued practice, finally, there is no pool, there is no “separate,” there is no thought. Because there is no “I”.

This can only happen when there is no time. In order to achieve no time, one must practice being fully and only in the present. When you are in this moment, there is no past time and there is no future time. There is only this eternal now. When there is the eternal now, with no thought, the I becomes the All That Is, and enlightenment is experienced.

This is why it’s not uncommon to hear that when someone has a traumatic experience, where they are shocked out of thinking, and time has so completely slowed that it has stopped, there is often a profound spiritual experience—breaking through, seeing through this illusion. Most often, that person is not able to retain that state because the previous work of meditation and practice of being in the now has not been done. But often, that experience is enough to push that experiencer deeper into spiritual pursuits to try to recapture that state. And so the seeking begins in earnest.

Q: You say that meditation is the key. But so many people find it so hard to make that a discipline. Do you have any strategies to share about how to make that happen?

Especially with new meditators, often the experience of practicing meditation is difficult and, so, is not sustained because the meditator is unaware of the full reward awaiting them. If I were to tell you that you must climb a mountain, and at the top of the mountain, there is one billion dollars waiting for you, would you climb the mountain? Or would you accept failure? You would find a way to make it to the top of that mountain by hook or crook.

The meditator often doesn’t understand what the prize is, so, therefore, is unable to sustain motivation, especially because the initial rewards are few and far between. The frustration is guaranteed. You must want the reward, or the practice required will not be worth it to you.

The Western understanding of meditation is also fairly far removed from what it actually is. It’s not for the purpose of mindfulness, or well-being, or peace, or self-awareness, or health. Those are all beneficial side effects, but none of those are the goal.

Q: Can you just describe what the reward is?

The reward is enlightenment.

Q: And what’s enlightenment like?

The description has been attempted by many for thousands of years. But there are no adequate words, which complicates the process. Because without the experience, without understanding what you’re trying to accomplish, motivation is difficult to sustain.

Let’s not say one billion dollars. Let’s say one hundred trillion dollars is waiting for you. Can you even comprehend? No, you cannot. But you can feel a kind of excitement at what you can imagine that it might be.

So, imagine what enlightenment might be. Use whatever images or words others have shared to help your feel excited and motivated.

If you experienced ultimate knowing, infinite peace, infinite love, infinite joy, infinite compassion, infinite awareness, infinite union, that might put you at the furthest edges of the ballpark.

Since that is beyond most people’s comprehension, practice with the goal of experiencing limited peace, limited awareness, limited love, limited compassion, limited union, and you will begin having experiences. You will begin having breakthroughs. Those experiences and breakthroughs will pull you forward, each building on the preceding experiences.

Read and study positive spiritual material to keep reinforcing what you are doing and why you are doing it. In time, the mind will become clear and clean. In time, the mind will become less reactive and less busy.

There is an additional challenge that must be overcome in tandem, and that is to let go of addicting technology that causes distraction and short attention spans. It thoroughly works against the ability to quiet the mind, to develop focus and attention, to develop one-pointed concentration. This must all be done together.

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