Contemplation is thinking about a subject but not going astray. If you are thinking about beauty then you go on thinking about beauty, of its different aspects, heights and depths, but you confine yourself to one object. In concentration you are static; in contemplation you move but you move almost the way a train moves, on the same track; it does not go on running into fields and streets. Out of contemplation was born all philosophy. Without contemplation there would be no philosophy at all.
And meditation, in the Western world, is a special kind of concentration, or a special kind of contemplation. When you concentrate or contemplate about ordinary, worldly things it is not meditation. When you contemplate about the other world – God, heaven and hell, the existence of the soul – then it becomes meditation. It is a particular specialization of contemplation and concentration. But there is no word which can convey the meaning of dhyan.
And it is not a new phenomenon. When Buddha spoke, he was not speaking in Sanskrit he was speaking in the living language of his people. The language was Pali, but he had to take the word dhyan, from Sanskrit; Pali had no word for it of its own. But it changed its form. Instead of dhyan, in Pali it became zana. And when Bodhidharma took the message to China, in Chinese there was no word with a parallel meaning to zana, so they took the word itself, and in Chinese it became ch’an – but it is dhyan.
When from China it went to Japan, again there was the same problem. They figured it out, what was more suitable for them as far as pronunciation was concerned. But the word dhyan continued – in zana, in ch’an, and in Japanese it became zen. It is a very interesting history of a word which has never been found in any other language – for the simple reason that nowhere else has it been developed. And unless you develop something, you cannot have a word for it. It was always exported: from India to China, from China to Japan.
In English they thought the word meditation will do; it was a wrong decision. The translators have been using meditation and now it has become established, but the meaning has to be changed. If you are not going to change the word, you will have to change the meaning.
Meditation means no object, no concentration, no contemplation, but an absolute silence…nothing on the screen of the mind, just a tabula rasa.
In this situation – only when you are neither thinking, nor concentrating, nor contemplating – the energy of your awareness has no involvement with any object. And energy has an intrinsic quality. It cannot remain static, it is basically dynamic; it moves, it is movement. When it cannot find any object…and you have to understand the meaning of the word object: that which hinders, that which prevents. It is an objection, it is a wall. Awareness goes and is objected by the wall; it shows the wall, it shows the details of the wall. But meditation is when there is no object, the energy goes on moving.
The second fundamental about energy is that it moves in circles. All energies in existence move in circles. The earth moves in a circle around the sun, and the scientists say the sun is moving around the center of the universe, though we have not been able yet to decide where this center is. All the stars are also moving around the same center.