Meditation diaries

concentric_circles1There have been numerous interpretations for the word meditation. I am sure you would have a fair idea of your own. I have something to say with respect to my understanding of mediation. 

In my opnion, meditation is the ability to catch hold of a concept and delve into great depths to be able to arrive at a fundamental understanding of the subject at hand. Let me take an example.

I have heard of a chant or mantra-‘Neti neti

The translation of this goes by either

1. ‘Not this, not this’ or

2. ‘Neither this nor that’

I remember having read this while I was reading up a lot of books on spirituality as part of my preparation for CAT. Now during the past few years of meditation, I have undergone so many different changes in my conceptual understanding of things. To take an example, I was of the opinion that religion had a lot to do with symbolic worship of pictures and objects in various avenues. The worship meant prayer to an external God, represented by pictures, statues and umpteen number of rituals surrounding these pictures/ statues.

I saw these symbols of worship and tried to understand them at a slightly deeper level. I asked myself questions,…

1. What do these statues/ pictures represent?

2. What do the chants and mantras represent/ mean?

I got a few answers like the fact that symbolic worship of statues/ pictures are meant for the average person who might not be accustomed to concentration of mind and hence there needs to be an external object in the form of a picture or a statue onto which they can focus all their attention. I similarly got a few questions for some more questions.

But the critical part of the larning process was in saying ‘Neti neti’

The moot question was if this was the only answer to the qeustion. Another way of looking at it was if this is too simplistic an answer. Are there points that I am missing in trying to arrive at a simplistic answer to my questions.

To look at the question above, I see that the answer is not that simplistic. The fact is that the fundamental diference between humans and animals in the fact that animals meander in their basic urges, which are food and procreation. Whereas, humans are able to move much beyond these basic impulses. This is chiefly because of our ability to postpone gratification. This ability to postpone gratification happens due the ability of humans to concentrate their minds and hence exercise control over the mind when the body craves for basic needs such as food and procreation. To take this forward, the act of prayer is an exercise in concentration of the human mind.

Now all humans are not born with the same ability to concentrate and like there is different grades in school for children of different ages, ages being a surrogate for mental development, similarly religion has different systems to help people in concentration. For most of the average people who cannot focus on an abtract object, religion provided them with images and stories which have temples and edicts as physical manifests of these systems, to help them concentrate.

By saying ‘Neti neti’, I have been able to move from one level of understanding to another. This shift in depth of understanding by holding onto one idea and never stopping with any particualr understanding of a concept is, in my opnion, a very good understanding of this chant.

This ability to be able to catch hold of a simple concept which has barely two words and apply them to gain greater depth in understanding is, in my opinion, a very good explanation for meditation.


3 Responses

  1. Call me when u read this … According to me Neti_Neti in the context of meditation means that meditation is a never ending process of discovery so one can’t hold on to one school of thought forever till u achieve ur next quasi Nirvana … though I have a question for you – is exercising control over mind and making urself a better person comes only through internal concentration? Or is it internalizing the external world?

  2. Nice question. We will discuss this sometime as I myself will have to chew the cud.

  3. I love your site!

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