Chapter 21: To Know Oneself and to Be Oneself
The lotus posture was chosen for many reasons. If one can manage it without torturing himself, then it is the best, but it is not a necessity. It is certainly the best situation in which you can enter into watchfulness. The legs are crossed, the hands are crossed, the spine is straight; it gives many significant supports to being watchful. First, in this position, gravitation has the least effect on the body because your spine is straight. So the gravitation can effect a very small portion. When you are lying down, gravitation effects your whole body. That’s why for sleeping, lying down is the best posture. Gravitation pulls the whole body, and because of its pull, the body loses all tensions. Secondly, when you are lying down, if the purpose is to sleep then you should use a pillow because the less blood reaches to your mind, the less the mind will be active. The less blood reaches to the mind, the more possibility to fall asleep.
A lotus posture is a great combination. It has the least effect of gravitation, and because the spine is straight a lesser amount of blood reaches to the mind, so mind cannot function. In that posture you cannot fall asleep easily. And if you have learned the posture from your very birth, it becomes so natural. The crossing of the legs, the crossing of the hands have a significance. Your body energy moves in a circle; the circle is not broken anywhere in a lotus posture. Both your hands.one hand gives the energy to the other hand; your one foot gives energy to the other foot - and the energy goes on moving in a circle. You become a circle of your bio-energy.
Many things are of much help. Your energy is not being released so you don’t get tired. Your blood is reaching in a lesser amount so the mind does not function too much. You are sitting in such a position - your legs are locked, your hands are locked and your spine is straight - sleep is difficult. These are just supports; they are not essential.
It is not that one who cannot sit in a lotus posture cannot meditate, meditation will be a little difficult but the lotus posture is only helpful, not absolutely needed. And for the people from colder countries where sitting on the ground is not possible - their bodies for centuries; their parents and their parents’ parents from Adam and Eve.. Have you seen any picture of Adam and Eve sitting in a lotus posture? In fact, it would have been very good for them, because sitting in lotus posture they could sit naked and yet nobody would have been very much aware of their nakedness. That’s how the Jaina monks sit, always in lotus posture. You cannot see their genitals. Their legs are crossed, their hands are crossed; this functions almost as a protection for their nakedness.
But if for centuries people have never sat, then it will unnecessarily create trouble; your body structure has taken a certain mode. It is better to follow the body and its wisdom: use a chair. The whole thing is you should be comfortable so that the body does not draw your attention. That’s why tension has to be avoided, because if you have a headache then it will be difficult to meditate. Again and again, your attention will go to the headache. If your leg is hurting, or if there is any slight tension anywhere in the body, it immediately alarms you. It is natural and it is part of the body’s wisdom.
If it does not alarm you then there is danger: a snake may be biting you, and you may go on sitting; your clothes may catch fire, your body may be burning, and you may not be aware of it. So the body immediately alarms wherever there is any trouble. That’s the reason to create a relaxed position in which the body need not alarm you, because every alarm will be a disturbance in your meditation.