The concept of enlightenment has become so bogged down in so many different theories, practices, and ideas that it’s almost become pointless to use. It can conjure up images of some peaceful man from the far east who has transcended all of the world’s problems, who meditates for hours a day, and generally never suffers from the usual things that people have problems with. Then, people begin to think, “Well, he is meditating, that must be the secret to become enlightened.” When in fact, the awakening or seeing through the illusion of the separate self, has nothing really to do with meditation as such. Meditation is merely a tool to help one along the path.
Do You Need to Meditate to Become Awakened?
Theoretically, no. However, meditation is a very useful tool that can be used to quiet the mind just enough to start to question the concept of the ‘I’. You don’t need to meditate to start to see through the illusion of the separate self, but it certainly can help.
I meditate almost everyday, as it helps me to shrug off any conditioning that may be starting to creep up from having to interact with society as a whole. In the early stages of my change, I found it more necessary to meditate everyday, and sometimes multiple times each day.
The reason for this was that I had a difficult time quieting the mind enough so that I could do inquiry into figuring out what was ‘real’ and what wasn’t. Also, I had several really amazing feeling experiences through meditation. These blissful experiences that would last for a week or so, acted sort of like a drug or an end result, that I would continually chase. If I got there through meditation, I wanted to do more and more, to get back to feeling that way. Hence, I was resisting the moment as it is, and trying to get somewhere (blissful state), when I should have just let go and allowed whatever was arising to arise on its own (whether it felt good, bad, or neutral…which are also just judgments).
Should You Still Meditate, Then?
That’s up to each individual. It’s still good for the stress of interacting with the modern world, which is definitely controlled more by the egoic mind. Like reading books or listening to talks, meditation can help point you in the right direction but it will ultimately come down to the individual surrendering to each moment as it arises. Meditation is a very good way to get in touch with the now and as such will be a good idea for most people to use, at least for a while. I have noticed that I can slip into the now or a state of no thought, almost automatically at this point. I can also choose to play ‘my character’ and go through each day within society, as that role requires of me, and like a costume I can slip it off without any real identification of it as ‘who I am’.
I certainly stay away from meditation as a religious pursuit or in order to become more spiritual, whatever that means. Lighting candles or going through some ceremony, just seems pointless and like a lot of window dressing for nothing. I don’t need to become a monk, buy power crystals, follow a guru, or anything else along those lines. That path leads to too much doctrine and its own cottage industry to keep you chasing some vague notion of enlightenment. Everything is right here in this moment, as it needs to be, your job is to simply recognize it.