Chapter 4: Never Meditate over Something
What does it mean to “meditate over” something? I know what it means to “think over” something; that’s what the mind is continuously doing: remembering, analyzing, planning, imagining, et cetera.
I also came to know a state of meditation where the “I” is no more, where all the boundaries are lost, just a melting into the whole, a disappearing, weightlessness, light, and bliss.
But what do you mean when you say to us, “Meditate over it”?
The languages of the West have no equivalent to meditation. It is sheer poverty of experience and poverty of language - just as in the East you will not find many words which exist in the Western hemisphere, particularly scientific, technological, objective. So the first thing to be understood is that we are trying something almost impossible.
In the East we have all the three words that English has, but we also have a fourth word that English - or any Western language - has missed. And the reason is not just linguistic; the reason is that this kind of experience has not been available to them.
The first word is concentration. In the East we call it ekagrata, one-pointedness.
The second word is contemplation. In the East we call it vimarsh, thinking, but only about a particular subject. Not diverting, going astray, but consistently remaining with the same experience and going deeper and more comprehensively into it. It is a development of concentration.
The third word is meditation. In the West, since Marcus Aurelius, meditation has been in a mess. His was the first book written in the West about meditation. But not knowing what meditation can be, he defines it as a deeper concentration and a deeper contemplation. Both definitions are unjustified.
In the East we have another word, dhyan. It does not mean concentration, it does not mean contemplation, it does not mean meditation even. It means a state of no-mind. All those three are mind activities - whether you are concentrating, contemplating, or meditating, you are always objective. There is something you are concentrating upon, there is something you are meditating upon, there is something you are contemplating upon. Your processes may be different but the boundary line is clear cut: it is within the mind. Mind can do all these three things without any difficulty.
Dhyan is beyond mind.
This is not the first time that the difficulty has been raised - it has been raised by many people. After Gautam Buddha, his disciples reached China nearabout eighteen hundred years ago and they were faced with the same difficulty. Finally they decided not to translate the word because there is no possible translation. They used the word dhyan, but in the Chinese pronunciation it became ch’an. And when fourteen hundred years ago the transmission of the lamp reached to Japan, again there was the same difficulty: what to do with ch’an? The Japanese had no equivalent or even similar word for it. So they also decided to use the same word; in their pronunciation it became zen.