Millions of people miss meditation because meditation has taken on a wrong connotation. It looks very serious, looks gloomy, has something of the church in it; looks as if it is only for people who are either dead, or almost dead, who are gloomy, serious, have long faces; who have lost festivity, fun, playfulness, celebration. These are the qualities of meditation. A really meditative person is playful, life is fun for him. Life is a leela, a play. He enjoys it tremendously. He is not serious, he is relaxed.
Sit silently, relaxed, loose. Just allow your attention to flow towards the gaps. Slip from the edges of words into the intervals. Let intervals become more prominent and allow words to fade away. It is just as if you are looking at a blackboard and I put a small white dot on it: you can see either the dot, then the blackboard goes far away, or you can see the blackboard, then the dot becomes secondary, a shadow phenomenon. You can go on changing your attention between the figure and the background.
Words are figures, silence is the background. Words come and go, silence remains. When you were born you were born as a silence – just intervals and intervals, gaps and gaps. You came with infinite emptiness, you brought unbounded emptiness with you in life. Then you started collecting words.
That’s why if you go back in your memory, if you try to remember, you cannot go past the age of four. Because before the age of four you were almost empty. Words started collecting in your memory after the age of four. Memory can function only where words function. Emptiness leaves no trace on you. That’s why when you go back and you try to remember, you can remember, at the most, the age of four, or if you were very intelligent then your remembering can go back to the age of three. But there comes a point where suddenly there is no memory. Up to that time you were an emptiness – pure, virgin, uncorrupted by words. You were pure sky. The day you die, again your words will drop and scatter. You will move into another world or another life again with your emptiness.
Emptiness is your self.
I have heard that Shankara used to tell the story of a pupil who kept asking his master about the nature of the ultimate self. Each time the question came, the master would turn a deaf ear – until finally he turned on his pupil one day and said, “I am teaching you, but you do not follow. The self is silence.”
Mind means words, self means silence. Mind is nothing but all the words that you have accumulated. Silence is that which has always been with you, it is not an accumulation. That is the meaning of self: it is your intrinsic quality. On the background of silence you go on accumulating words, and the words in total are known as “the mind.” Silence is meditation. It is a question of changing the gestalt, shifting the attention from words into silence – which is always there.