Chapter OneWhy Meditate?
Why meditate? Anyone reading this book has at one time or another considered this question and come up with all sorts of answers. Some of the many reasons for meditating include reducing stress, cultivating a sense of peace, eliminating fatigue, slowing the aging process, improving memory, finding clarity of purpose, and even healing. All of these are powerful motivators for beginning a meditation practice. Who wouldn't want the healthy, happy, and purposeful life that is the result of these benefits? However, all these reasons pale in significance to the realization that meditation is our way of making conscious contact with God.
The paramount reason for making meditation a part of our daily life is to join forces with our sacred energy and regain the power of our Source (God). Through meditation, we can tap in to an abundance of creative energy that resides within us, and a more meaningful experience of life, which enriches us permanently. By meditating, we come to know God rather than know about God. However, before we can make the shift to a more enriching life, we have to tame our ego.
Taming the Ego
What is ego? Essentially, it's an idea that we carry around with us about who we really are. We all have an ego, and it's quite useful at times, but given the upper hand, it disconnects us from God. Most of us personalize our ego with some of the following thoughts:
I am what I do. I am what I have. I am separate from God. I am what others think of me. I am separate from everyone else. I am separate from what is missing in my life.
Sometime during our life, we identified ourselves as variations of these six beliefs. Our physical body became the means for identifying ourselves as distinct from others. Possessions, achievements, and reputation became our calling cards. Things we believed were missing became goals. This aspect of ourselves is what I am calling ego. We need to tame the ego so that we can regain our all-encompassing source of power.
Our sense of empowerment is diminished when we identify solely with the ego, whose main concern is the physical world. The ego prefers us to be stuck in this world of problems and struggles. But our ego is nothing more than our idea of how to survive in the physical world. If it were truly a part of the physical world, we'd be able to check into a hospital for ego reconstruction, or even better, an "egoectomy." The ego is our idea of how to be safe and loved in our physical reality. We've separated from our Source when we engage exclusively with the illusions of the ego. It's only an idea and nothing more, yet this idea can keep us from knowing our Source. But with just the slightest alteration of this idea, we begin taming the ego.
All that we need to do is shift to the awareness that we can choose the ego when needed, and we can choose to select the power of our Source. Once we choose to tame the ego, we have the opportunity to make conscious contact in meditation and know God directly. We, then, are like the raindrop described by the 19th-century Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib: "For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river ..." An untamed ego will get in the way of this divine experience. In essence, this is entering an experience of oneness.
* * *
Oneness Is Indivisible
One quality that distinguishes our Source from the outer world is that it cannot be divided. Oneness defies being compartmentalized. For instance, our physical world is divided into dark and light, but the source of light, the sun, defies division. Or consider the nature of silence. It has been said that God's one and only voice is silence. No matter how you attempt to slice it up or cut it in half, silence is always silence. This indivisible root source of oneness is where the act of creation originates.
Indivisible oneness is the creative energy that turns a seed into a maple tree or a watermelon or a human being or anything else that's alive. It's invisible, omnipresent, and absolutely indivisible. We can't divide oneness. Meditation offers us the closest experience we can have of rejoining our Source and being in the oneness at the same time that we're embodied. This means that we have to tame our ego.
When we meditate, we begin to still the mind. As we get more and more adept at moving into inner silence, we come to know the peace of God in our entire being. We intuitively seek union with our generating Source. Silence, or meditation, is the path to that center. We can make conscious contact with God, transcend the limitations of a dichotomous world, and regain the power that is only available to us when we're connected to the Source. This is what I call getting in the gap. It's where we create, manifest, heal, live, and perform at a miraculous level. The gap is the powerful silence we can access through meditation. By entering the elusive gap between our thoughts, we can access the stillness that may have been unattainable in other meditation attempts.
Our Thoughts Keep Us from Silence
Our ultimate reason for meditating is to get in the gap where we enter the sacred space and know the unlimited power of our Source. Psalm 46:10 says: "Be still, and know that I am God." To know is to banish all doubt. Being still in meditation can take us to that awareness. But if you've tried meditating previously, what you're more likely to know is that your thoughts won't be still.
I find it helpful to think of my mind as a pond. The surface of the pond is similar to my mental chatter. On the surface of the pond are the disturbances. Here there are storms, debris, freezing and thawing, all on the surface. Beneath the pond surface, there is relative stillness. Here it is quiet and peaceful. If, as has been said, it's true that we have approximately 60,000 separate, often disconnected, thoughts during the day, then our mind is like a pond that's full of whitecaps from a choppy breeze. But beneath that surface chatter is the gap where we can know God and gain the unlimited power of reconnecting to our Source.
Meditating is a way of quieting our chatterbox thoughts and swimming below the surface. This is where we can be still and know (not know about) God. If we have approximately 60,000 thoughts every day, then in all of our waking hours, it's unlikely that we ever get to the point where there's any space between our thoughts. How could we? With one thought leading to the next, either rationally connected or otherwise, there's simply no time or place to get into the gap between our thoughts. Yet it's precisely in that gap that the magic and the infinite possibilities await us. I'll explain more about this euphoric gap and how to get there in the chapters that follow.
The practice of meditation takes us on a fabulous journey into the gap between our thoughts, where all the advantages of a peaceful, stress-free, healthier, fatigue-free life are available, but are simply side benefits. The paramount reason for doing this soul-nourishing meditation practice is to get in the gap between our thoughts and make conscious contact with the creative energy of life itself. But this is a choice that's entirely the responsibility of each individual. We have the potential to be instruments of the highest good for all concerned and to be miracle workers in our own lives. No person, government, or religion can legitimately claim to do this for us. In fact, I agree with Carl Jung, who once said that one of the main functions of formalized religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.
I encourage you to master getting in the gap with the meditation called Japa, which I will describe in this book, and lead you through on the enclosed CD. As you engage in prolonged meditation sessions, and experience what you bring back to the material world, you will know God ... and you'll know why you choose to meditate.