There are basically three main reasons for meditation: first, to develop our powers of concentration, second, to realize our true nature (that is, to become enlightened), and third, to help us actualise this true nature in our daily life.
Our powers of concentration can be developed if we keep meditating regularly, preferably every day. Then eventually we can look back over our past and realise that our concentration has indeed improved. Although meditation does have the effect of relaxing us, it is mainly a process of improving our concentration by concentrating on one thing (such as breadth–counting) and letting all other distracting thoughts go. Afterwards, we find that we concentrate better on anything that we want to.
The main importance of this improved concentration is that it enables us to work with a one-pointed mind in order to attain our goals, because we are less distracted by worries and various addictions. Now, this in itself does not necessarily make us a better person because our goals may still be selfish and greedy. But if we are trying to become less selfish and more selfless, meditation will help us to do this.
However, we cannot transform ourselves completely until we realize our true nature – that is until we become enlightened, (which is the most important goal for all Buddhists). This is the second reason for meditation and it goes much deeper than the first: to become enlightened is to cut through the illusion of self, which is the great delusion of life that causes us so much worry and frustration.
We try to manipulate our circumstances and other people for the sake of this illusory “I”, but this can never alleviate the anxiety that persists at the core of our being – it just makes us feel more lonely and isolated. Realizing our true nature is the only thing which can give us true peace and contentment. One who is enlightened is relaxed at the deepest level because he knows and feels that the core of his being is empty, and the experience of that emptiness is great joy and freedom.
The third reason for meditation is to actualise this realization in our daily life - that is to understand the implications of what we have realized for our daily activities and to live according to them. If enlightenment is to realize that there is no self, then actualising this is to develop selflessness in all situations.
Even after enlightenment, all our old, selfish self-indulgent impulses and habits are still there. But the advantage of having realized one’s true nature is that it is much easier to change oneself because it is easier to let self-centred thoughts go and to ignore them when they arise. It is easier to do this because all thoughts and impulses, like everything else, are now realized to be empty. “I” do not think thoughts because there is no “I”, but thoughts do arise and pass away. All thoughts and feelings are temporary: they arise from nowhere and, if one does not cling to them, they disappear without a trace.
Meditation is distinctively a human phenomenon, and therefore should be dealt with from a human point of view, with human feelings and human understanding. Human problems and their solutions are basically psychological in nature. Our real problems can be solved only by giving up illusions and false concepts and bringing our lives into harmony with reality. And this can be done only through meditation.
Why Meditation is very important
We meditate to gain serenity, peace, joy, greater efficiency in everyday life, to increase our power to love, to achieve a deeper view of reality. Our real goal, however, is to become more complete, to more fully live the potential of being human.
Meditation is a way of focusing the mind to bring the body into a state of calmness and clarity. In the Buddhist sense it means the culture of mind and it aims at developing man as a whole.
One who knows how to practise meditation will be able to control his mind when it is misled by the senses. Meditation is the remedy for physical and mental disorders.
If we could control the mind, then we will be able to purify it. Through the purification of mind we can see things as they truly are. Once the mind is purified it will be free from mental hindrances. Ultimately we will be able to find our salvation without any difficulty.
Meditation, certainly, is not a voluntary exile from life or something practised for the hereafter. Meditation should be applied to the daily affairs of life and its results are obtained here and now. It is part and parcel of our life. The ultimate aim of Buddhist meditation is to gain full enlightenment (Nirvana) through the conquest of mental defilements.
But apart from this ultimate aim there are other advantages and benefits that can be derived through meditation. It can inspire us to discover our own character. Meditation can relax the nerves, control or reduce the blood pressures, make us zestful by stemming the dissipation of energy through tensions, improve our health and keep us fit. It can also stimulate the latent powers of the mind, aid clear thinking, develop deep understanding, mental balance and tranquillity. Even some psychosomatic ailments could be cured by meditation. We can use meditation in treating emotional and stress disease and vicious drug addiction. Meditation is one of the types of mental therapy which could be use with advantage in treating chronic illness. It is a creative process which aims at converting the chaotic feelings and unwholesome thoughts into mental harmony and purity.
- Author Unknown