This blog has been translated into Chinese, Spanish and French.
I’ve meditated for over 40 years and, even after 30 years of practice, I was confused about my experiences in meditation.
When I learned to meditate, I was taught that the goal was to stop all thought and all thought impression in the mind. My teachers counseled that thought limits a person and, through meditation, one can learn to control thought, train the mind to concentrate, and, ultimately, stop thought altogether—a practice which leads to freedom.
However, absorbing that instruction through a dualistic mind-set, in a stringent moral environment, it registered with me as, “Thought is bad”.
Thought is not bad. Thoughts are generated by our brain and are actually quite handy.
But years later, even after changing my attitude toward thought, I was still confused. Sitting in a lotus position, practicing daily, I managed to suspend my thoughts, but always found myself wondering: Why do I still have the sense of I am? I am meditating. I just stopped thought…
I was confused about perception and intellect.
Perception is that part of us that perceives—whether it is things outside of us in the physical 3D world or things on the inner planes. Some call this the Witness or the Observer.
Perception has nothing to do with the mind. Perception simply perceives. It is a sort of flashlight of awareness that we shine on things as we observe the flux of energies within or without. It is completely devoid of thought. And, perception is present even when there are thoughts in the mind.
Intellect, on the other hand, takes what is perceived and brings it down into the conscious thinking mind. It’s a very useful faculty we humans have been given, part of the package we acquire when we take embodiment. It’s a tool that resides ‘in the attic’ and, when used properly, helps us solve problems, make grocery lists, and figure out how much tax we owe.
The bottom line is this: thought impulse arises out of the sea of pure awareness and manifests as a thought. If you really slow things down in your meditation and clock what happens, you can observe an impression rising, a thought formulating, and the thought relaxing as it falls back into pure awareness.
And all of the time this is happening, perception perceives. First perception; then perception perceiving thought; then again, only perception.
So if you manage to stop your thoughts in meditation, even for a few seconds, that’s Samadhi—at least one of the lower Samadhis—a state of pure perception. The I, the perceiver is still there but the mind is still.
Samadhi is the beginning of the end for the personal self that causes suffering. It’s the beginning of allowing the Universal Self to dominate awareness. It’s your ticket to freedom.
It’s really not that difficult to reach Samadhi and speed up your journey to freedom. It’s just like anything else: You need to practice if you want to get good at it.