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A Meditation Sermon

 

Let's talk for a little while about meditation.

 

Many of us admit that it is a good idea …

 

… we study it briefly in the Initiates' Programme …

 

… some of us talk about doing this or that 'style' of meditation …

 

But do we ever consider the question : 'why do I want to meditate ?'

 

What is this curious gesture of sitting, lying, standing or walking and just “being present” ?

 

Why do we do it ?

 

It is a more serious question that it sounds … If we agree that meditation is a good thing to do, then we need to also agree that we need to be very clear on what meditation is, as well as what it is not …

 

One definition of meditation concerns “the act of thinking about something”. However, in this respect, it may be better to think of it as “observing the act of thinking about something” without holding onto it.

 

So, the first thing that we would do well to bring our attention to is our INTENTION :

Why do I want to meditate ?”

 

There may very well be various means (upaya) for attaining a meditative state, but there are not so many moments that the meditative state arrives in ~ only this one.

 

So, you see – meditation is not a means to an end ; it cannot be used as a vehicle or a utility for some future wish.

 

Meditation is being present – fully present – in the here and now we say we admire so much. It is accepting that present however “catastrophic” it may be, as it is, without desiring, planning or plotting to change it in any way.

 

Now, this doesn't mean that we not going to act in and on our environment before or after our meditation. It simply means that during our meditation practice, we accept the present moment exactly the way it is ...and we remain present with it.

 

Meditation has no end goal. If there is something I am trying to attain, achieve or resolve by meditation (enlightenment, or some higher state of mind or being, or some folly such as that) then I am not meditating.

 

Clarity may come from a meditation practise, but one cannot 'meditate' to gain clarity …

 

(the 'clarity' was always there – one just gets rid of the clutter)

 

One cannot 'meditate' to become centred …

 

It is useless to meditate on the solution to a current problem – that is 'thinking' or 'intellectualising', no matter how relaxed one is …

 

Meditation is not relaxation neither, although it may be quite relaxing.

 

Meditation is not controlling the breath, however when one is meditating one may notice that the breath becomes very regular and rhythmic …  Actually, one just becomes aware that it is when one becomes aware that the breath is always there …

 

Meditation is not 'concentration'. Concentration is selectively omitting most of what is going on from the field of awareness to narrowly focus on one detail of things – and usually not even 'how things are' but 'how one wants things to be'. So, it isn't meditating …

 

But what meditation is is the present awareness and acceptance of things as they are – without having to do something about it, nor having to react in any particular way to them, nor to change them nor even to perpetuate them …

 

Meditation is not 'controlling the mind' neither. You can't ; don't try – you'll just get discouraged. Even during meditating, the mind is going to wander. Minds DO that – it is normal. That is why having a mind is a cool thing ; that mental wandering and flittering and all of the circus performances our minds do is how they keep us alive and why we can be creative and interesting …  So, don’t try to ‘lock it up’ … Just let it do what it is going to do …

 

Therefore, when you've realised that your mind has wandered off somewhere, take notice of where it went, then just lovingly bring it back. If it is your breath you are using as an anchor, then bring the attention back to the breath …  if it is the hearing, then bring the attention back to hearing … &c.

 

It is helpful to see it as weight-training : the mind wandering off is like the weight lowering – that is normal, gravity attracts. The mind gets attracted by many various distractions of thought in much the same way. Yet, as the “training” part comes in, we use our muscle to bring the weight back. Likewise, for “training” in meditation, we must bring our awareness back to the anchor (breathing, sound …)

 

And if the mind wanders off a thousand times, just bring it back, lovingly and gently a thousand times. Don't judge the wandering of the mind – and if you do, then don't judge the judging …  just kindly bring the awareness back every time.

 

Now, this does require some practice, but at the same time, anyone can do it. We are all present in the present moment (where else could we be ?), just often our awareness is anywhere but where we truly are. Hence, all those rows we have with people, or buses we catch or meetings we attend – all when really we are just in the shower or walking somewhere …

 

And, anyone can meditate. Anyone. All of us can take the time to bring our awareness to the present moment, if only for just a few seconds or a few minutes. It is not necessary to sit like a Buddha for 45 minutes without flinching (although that is good too – whether one flinches or not). Whatever time one has to simply bring the focus back to where one is and what is really going on is fine too …

 

Anyone can meditate, but the mind can certainly come up with as many different excuses as there are ways of meditating. No one is too busy or too lonely and isolated, no one is too poor or too ill. No one has 'just too many problems'.

 

In the past 35 years or so, meditation has gained an increasing interest among medical professionals and studies have shown (do not call me on fallacy here if I do not provide a bloody bibliography for that ! This is a sermon and not a scientific conference) that there have been remarkable benefits for people with all sorts of disabling conditions – from advanced stage cancer to AIDS to mental health disorders … almost every serious health concern imaginable.

 

So, if even those with overwhelming, life-threatening, life-compromising conditions can be helped by a regular meditative practice – most of us certainly can be. And we can also understand that meditation is as essential a practice as diet and fitness for the over-all health of the body (including the organ called “brain”).

 

So, when we meditate, let’s be very clear on our intention. The only intention that can provide a true meditative state is “to be present” – let’s not be setting goals for it. Not meditating ‘on’ or ‘about’ something – that is thinking. It is about being in the here and now, not trying to get something.

 

This is why just sitting, lying, standing or walking with our awareness simply on the present moment and the experience of all of its sensations (including our thoughts) is a very active engagement.

 

I wanted to talk to you this evening about meditation, for it is one of our basic studies we cover in  the Initiates’ Programme, yet thereafter we rarely pay it any attention (HA !).

 

Yet, it is one of the fundamental precepts of life as a Jedi.

 

Thus, when we meditate, the intention ‘just to be present’ is vital ; let’s be sure that meditating is what we are actually doing …

 

Ergo : instead of the regular recitation of our Creed, let us take a few moments to be completely present, here and now, with whatever is going on being just whatever is going on. Observe, let our awareness include just whatever is present …

 

Thank you for taking these three minutes to meditate with me.

 

May the Force be with you all …