I met a TV producer Mary Jo who told me that Seinfeld, a popular show in the USA television, is a show about nothing. I searched this information on www.Google.com and found the following amongst many others:
“The behaviors of Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine, the failed communication, and the everyday embarrassment represent “nothingness” but a peculiar everyday life. These “nothing nesses” happen to all of us, but when it is put on TV, people will laugh at these. Besides, the author appreciates the fact that Seinfeld is a New York story but it is filmed in Los Angeles. Seinfeld takes those little nothings and combines them to create something realistic.”
Meditation is no Seinfeld, but this concept of nothing in Seinfeld can help in understanding what meditation is all about. We need to understand that meditation just happens. It is not even a process. The techniques or processes are important, but they really are not techniques for meditation. The techniques or processes take us to the point where meditation can happen. It is not something that we can grasp, hold or catch and then bring it on us.
Meditation is more like sleep that it is like putting decoration lights. All we can do for sleep to come is lie down in bed and switch off the lights. We can prepare the surrounding which becomes conducive to sleep, but can’t force sleep to come. Most of us are not very familiar with sleep because by the time sleep comes and surrounds our being, we are not aware of it coming. We wake up refreshed and may remember some dreams, but by and large sleep happens in our unconscious state. Meditation on the other hand is getting to the level of sleep and deeper with our intact awareness. A big difference between sleep and meditation is that there is that of awareness. There are meditative techniques whereby wakeful sleep is possible; but then it becomes a meditation.
Process and the product
It is important to understand this simple distinction between meditation techniques and meditation itself. The techniques bring us to the point where meditation can happen. The processes are important and are helpful in bringing us to a point where meditation can dawn upon us. But, meditation cannot be forced upon me or you. It is always spontaneous.
The commonest mistake for a person starting meditation is that he has a goal. He or she wants to get enlightened on the first attempt for meditation. If that does not happen in a short duration, we conclude that meditation is not for us. This is my life story as well. I started meditation in the late sixties. I attended a meditation camp in Mt. Abu and spent seven days of intensive meditation sessions. I had planned to get there by the end and it did not happen. Was I frustrated or was I not? You can guess that for yourself.
I now realize it better. I understand the difference between process and product. In our world where we live process and products have a relationship. You eat and you get fat. How the food affects your size also depends on how your body metabolizes the food you eat. The input and output can be predicted to a large extent. You market a product and there is a good chance you will be able to sell it. This ordinary mathematics does not apply to the world of meditation. You can do all the preparations; yet there is no guarantee that meditation will come. It is generally said that meditation will happen for sure if you are ready for it, yet it is not possible to create that readiness by force.
The state of nothingness
However, there is another realization when meditation happens. Nothing really happened. All that happens is getting to know the reality of whom I am or who you are. We live as if we do not know ourselves. We are running away from ourselves. We are always strangers to ourselves and more so loneliness bites us. It is not that difficult to find out this simple truth. Just observe someone when he or she is sitting alone. They make efforts to make themselves busy. They would like to go from shop to shop or flip pages of the same magazine three times over. They may want to start a conversation with the person sitting next to them and what not. There is nothing wrong with all this.
Meditation brings us home. We start liking our own company. There is no emptiness. It is important to understand this. Meditation is not a negative phenomenon. It is not just absence of disturbances. It is not just absence of thoughts. This nothingness (shunya) is a very positive state of being. That is why some people have used the word ‘whole’ for the same state of being. Whole signifies everything as against nothing. There is peace, calm and vastness all at one time. Have you taken a walk in the morning besides a lake and looked at the freshness of the calm, vast peaceful lake? There is no sign of negativity in the state of meditation. It is a very positive state. The whole body as if is full of peaceful vibrations. Peaceful vibration sounds like a contradictory statement, but that is perhaps one of the closest descriptive words for this state.
The powerhouse of nothingness
This state of being brings clarity of thoughts to our existence. Krishna calls it ek-buddhi. Shankarachary calls it nishchaltattva and we call it clarity or decisiveness. There is no actions (karma) happening at the center in the meditative state of nothingness, yet this is the source of all activity. This is the activity center. No karma (akarma) happens here, but all karma start from here. Nothing happens yet this is the source of everything. This again is the reason some shadhaks (seekers) call it nothing and others call it everything (Whole).
This is just a realization that happens in meditation. The truth has just been discovered. It has always been happening that way. The ways are not limited to people who are in meditation. It is true for all of us. We normally do not know this fact of life. The difference between us and those who live a meditative life is that of awareness. They know it and we do not.
That is no small difference. They are aware. They can also see life events more clearly. The decision making becomes easier for them because of the clarity of thoughts. They live a happier life style.
Health and nothingness
We as we are live in our own world. Some events are stressful and others are pleasant to us. We let our being get affected with trivial things. Disturbance is a pattern of our lives. Sometimes disturbances are replaced with happy moments and we feel as if peace has arrived. We go to a party and dance with music. The dancing and the music has taken us away from normal disturbances and we are so happy. We have not known the real positive peace. We have not experienced the force of peace that is present in the nothingness of meditative state (sthitapragya). All these disturbances affect our physical body. We sometimes smoke and sometimes fight. Stress induced illnesses start affecting our body. We find solace sometimes in medicines and sometimes in alcohol.
It is not all that bad as I have painted the picture above. It is not very far from the either. Finding the state of nothingness brings a different dimension to our lives. The positive peace travels with us to the music and the dance floor. It does not only influence the individual me or you but also spread and surrounds the person next door. The peace is infectious. This positivity of nothingness travels with you like an aura. How can such a person not be spiritually, mentally and physically in a healthy state?
Journey to nowhere:
I said above that positivity of nothingness travels with us like an aura. The question arises as to whether meditation is also a journey and if it is where are we journeying to.
Let us first examine our usual journeys that we have taken so far. We travel in different dimensions. There is a journey in time. We are born and we grow into childhood, adolescence and youth. Every stage of life has its own beauty and has its own problems. When I fall in love we feel that love is so unique to me. But, at that age many others have fallen in love, are falling in love today and will keep falling in love in future. Sometimes we get sick and then get better. The time continues and our journey through time also continues. We also travel in space. I come from a village and spent a good part of my childhood in my village Balbandh. I recently visited that same village in January 2004. Not much has changed. I could feel that kuch kuch (something, something) in my heart when I was there. It was as if my childhood had come alive. I also met some of my old time friends and we had a ball. It only lasted for few hours because I had to continue my journey onwards.
It is usually said that time and space is related. In fact time and space to some cannot be separated. In my case time, space and I are also closely tied up. There is so much travel and so many journeys that I as KB has taken and has yet to take. Yet, when I close my eyes and take the journey to my core, I see no journey at all. There has been no travel of my core to anywhere either in time or in space. It is still so static. There is so much stillness there. There has never been any movement of my center. It is as still as the eye of a storm or the center of a tornado.
The journey of the outside stays outside. What then is the journey to the inside? It is the direction. We ought to start looking inside. There are techniques for meditation. There are volumes of words written about meditation. Gautam Siddharth left his palace and family for this journey of the inside. When he found it, he also found that the journey is actually a journey to nowhere. This journey to nowhere starts with a journey to somewhere and once the nowhere is found, a journey to everywhere starts again. Once Buddha found that his journey to nowhere has come home, he started his journey to everywhere again. He walked for 40 years telling others how to start the process for nothing and the journey to nowhere. Many others have found this nothingness and have traveled to nowhere since then and before then.
Second-hand knowledge of the self gathered from books or gurus can never emancipate a man until its truth is rightly investigated and applied; only direct realization will do that. Realize yourself, turning the mind inward. – Tripura Rahasya, 18: 89