Without knowing what they are doing, would-be meditators often find it difficult to sit still for even five minutes. On the other hand, experienced meditators go about their business directly and purposefully. In this classic work, teacher Justin F. Stone presents easy-to-follow instructions for many common forms of meditation, including Zazen (Zen Meditation), Japa (one of the oldest spiritual practices in India), Satipatthana (Mindfulness), Nei Kung (Buddhist Meditation), and Tibetan meditations.
Justin F. Stone, an accomplished writer, musician, poet, and artist, is also the creator of Tai Chi Chih, a physical and spiritual discipline. He has lived with yogis in the Tibetan foothills and with Zen monks in Japan. He resides in New Mexico, where he conducts meditation retreats and classes.
1. What is Meditation?
2. The Great Circle Meditation,
3. Three Modes of Japa,
4. Zen Meditation,
5. Satipatthana—Foundations of Mindfulness,
6. The Secret Nei Kung,
7. Two Tibetan Meditations and the Buddha’s Simple Formula for Dhyana,
8. How and Why Does Meditation Work?,
Almost all the innumerable books and pamphlets on Far Eastern Philosophy and Religion mention Meditation, but few give any instruction on how to Meditate. Much of the sparse instruction is useless, as it is given in vague, general terms, such as:
“Sit quietly, with your eyes closed. Regulate your breathing and still your mind; wait for the Voice of the Silence to speak to you.”
Trouble is, without knowing what he is doing, the would-be Meditator will find it difficult to sit still for even five minutes. If the mind is disturbed by extraneous thoughts, the breathing will be coarse and rough, and labored breathing in turn disturbs the mind and causes restlessness. It is no wonder so many who attempt to Meditate give up in discouragement.
The experienced Meditator, knowing the technique he is to use, goes about his business as directly and purposefully as the skilled carpenter. There is nothing vague about his way of proceeding. He knows certain causes will bring certain effects. The seed correctly planted will yield its fruit. So he proceeds calmly and purposefully to put into motion the Meditative forces, whatever technique he may be using. Once the habit of Meditation is well-established, the mind looks forward to the experience, and, gradually, it becomes easier and easier for it to slip into the Meditative state. The habit—energies being cultivated, grooves in the mind from repeated practice (called vasanas in Sanskrit, discussed later in this book)—make it progressively more natural for the mind to turn inward and, for a period of time, return to the state that has brought joy and calm contentment in the past. As one teacher has said, the mind goes toward the field of greatest happiness, and it will soon come to realize that, in Meditation, lies a true reward—even to the point where the mind will miss the regular period of Meditation if it is omitted.
It is the purpose of this book to offer explicit instructions for various types of Meditation, simple enough so that one of average intelligence and memory can forthrightly follow the instructions and get the desired results. Since people differ in their viewpoints, capabilities, and personalities, I have recommended no one way as being best, but have offered a wide choice of Meditative techniques, all valid. One person will be attracted in one direction, while another will find what he wants—and what works for him—in a totally different orientation. After some experimenting, the would-be Meditator should be able to determine what Meditation is best for him (not his neighbor or his friend), and he should then cease the experimentation and settle down to steady, day-by-day effort. Initial enthusiasm means little; it is the steadfastness of daily practice that brings results, and the depth of these results, as they affect your life and attitudes, may surprise you. Eastern sages have always declared that man’s own nature is Bliss. Meditation, of whatever type chosen, should enable the Meditator to uncover that nature which is his, if practice is faithful and according to instruction.
Some will come to Meditation for religious reasons, while others will want the joys and rewards of a renewed taste for life—and the better health it naturally brings—without getting into various beliefs, philosophies, mythologies, and conditioned religious viewpoints. Meditation should work for either the believer or the non-believer. The one looking for Ultimate Answers may find his own wisdom shining forth so that the answers are apparent—or, more probably, the questions will disappear—while the more casual Meditator, perhaps an atheist or agnostic, will receive exactly the same benefits, though he may not view them in the same way.
So, my purpose in this book is to present the material to both parties, the religious and the non-religious, commenting on certain religious aspects, where appropriate (as in Buddhist Meditation), without in any way suggesting that the Meditator adopt some new point of view. Meditation does not belong to anybody, Mantras (sacred words or sounds) do not belong to anybody, and we want to make the various techniques available to all, without wait, prostrations, adaptation of Oriental dietary habits, or the necessity of paying tribute to dead or living Masters who mean nothing to them.
One must realize, however, that in the Orient, some Meditative techniques are given only by Initiation, and I certainly do not want to encroach on these ancient traditions. While almost all Mantras and Holy Sounds may be found in books, the Eastern feeling is that these are effective only when given by the Guru (teacher) along with a transference of power. I don’t want to comment on such matters—it is outside the purview of this book—but, a personal opinion is that there is a great deal to Initiation by a true Master. As to Initiation by one who is delegated to do so, not an enlightened teacher, there is good reason for doubt about such a practice, particularly where money or gifts are involved. Not every teacher is a “Perfect Master”: indeed, the more flamboyant the proceedings, the more cause there is for doubt by the very nature of what a true teacher is. Confucious speaks of TEH, the power of an inner sincerity, and this is hardly reconcilable with notoriety. The idea that the end justifies the means is not a spiritual one: in the Eternal Now, the end and the means are not separate. Furthermore, most great teachers of India have been penniless renunciates, though this was not necessarily the case in China, Japan, and Tibet.
For the above religious reasons, so as not to conflict with tradition, I will not attempt to teach the techniques of some Meditations such as the Shabd Nam (Holy Word or Name) of the Sikhs, where one progressively hears the Ten Sounds. Here the Master, in direct line of spiritual descent from the Founder, Guru Nanak, imparts the secret Charged Words to the disciple at Initiation, along with instructions on how to use them so as to take the aspirant directly to Sat Purush. This is a very valid Meditation, with strong religious or spiritual overtones, and should only be learned from a Master who will accept one as a disciple.
Similarly, with physical disciplines such as Kundalini Yoga and Hatha Yoga, both leading to Meditation, it would not be my purpose to give instruction in these techniques, even if I were capable of doing so. Although I have been an instructor in T’ai Chi Ch’uan (at a large State University, etc.), and in T’ai Chi Chih and related Chi Kung disciplines, it is not my purpose to instruct in these physical movements, except where helpful in advancing Meditation. Indeed, it is not possible to correctly learn the 108 movements of T’ai Chi Ch’uan—truly a moving Meditation, or Cosmic Dance—except through personal instruction by a qualified teacher.
So, as I am trying to make clear, the purpose of this book is to offer simple, concise instruction in Meditation techniques so that it may become a do-it-yourself Meditation text, from which both the religious and non-religious seeker may choose appropriate methods of Meditation. By removing as much esotericism as possible—without in any way impugning it—I hope to bring Meditation even to those who are turned off by demands of Doctrine or of Faith. In Japan, great swordmakers—and many other highly-skilled craftsmen—have long fasted and Meditated before starting on an important piece of work, so as to better reach the inner source of creativity. Scholars have found periods of Meditation helpful before beginning concentrated works of some complexity. There is much for the Rational mind in one form or another of Meditation, and my purpose is to offer the instruction and the potential to such a one, and to all, saint or sinner, or, as with most of us, the in-between. When enough people in the world Meditate regularly, perhaps the tensions and the hatreds will vanish, leaving the cool breeze of contentment sweeping across the joyous lake of Being.