But the Buddhist meaning of meditation – dhyan – is totally different. It has nothing to do with any object in particular; it has something to do, certainly, with you, but not with the object. It has something to do with the consciousness, not with the content. It is a totally different orientation. The content is outside, the object is outside, and consciousness is inside. The English word meditation is extrovert; the Buddhist word meditation is introvert.
When Buddha says meditate he means don’t think – it is just the opposite of the English meaning. He says: drop all thinking and see. That is the only way to know things as they are…because if you are thinking, you are bringing your prejudices in. If you are thinking, you are bringing your past conclusions in. If you are thinking, your mind is functioning – and mind is past, and the past never allows you to see the present. Thinking has to stop for meditation to be. Thinking has to evaporate totally. In that state of no-thought you can see.
But to the Western mind, the state of no-thought seems as if you will fall asleep. What will you do if there is no thought? The Western mind is constantly doing something. It can keep itself awake only if it is occupied, doing something. It is a doer. And that is the difference between the Eastern and the Western approach.
The East has stumbled upon a totally different kind of experience – the experience of no-thought and yet being fully awake. This was the greatest revelation, one of the most important contributions to the world. The West knows thinking and sleep. You are doing something either with the body or with the mind; if you have nothing to do with the body or the mind you go to sleep, then sleep takes over.
Rest, in the West, becomes sleep; rest, in the East, is a state of wakefulness without thought. It is neither sleep nor thinking; it is a totally different thing from both. Thoughts have disappeared….
The Western psychologists say: If there is no thought, how can there be consciousness? Western psychology insists that consciousness is always consciousness of something; it can’t exist by itself. Logically it is appealing, convincing, but existentially it is absurd.
Consciousness can exist without any thought – I say it by my own experience. It is not a question of my conclusion through a thought process, it is my experience. It is the experience of all the buddhas of the past: consciousness can exist without thought. That is the only possibility of liberation; otherwise there will be no possibility – either you are occupied with thoughts or you fall asleep and become occupied with dreams.
And you go on moving in this vicious circle: dreams, thoughts, dreams, thoughts…. Dreams are pictorial thoughts, thoughts are verbal pictures; they are not much different. Dreams are a little primitive, thoughts are a little more sophisticated, but they do the same thing. They keep you focused on the outside, they never allow you to experience your own subjectivity.