Ideas Presented in Chapter 2
Idea #7: Meditation Elicits and Cultivates the Meditative Function
The primary purpose of meditation is to bring nature’s meditative benefits under our baton, if not our control. Without a formula or method, the meditative function could not be experienced every day, and without that regular exposure, we cannot cultivate its cumulative benefits.
Although the meditative function exists naturally, probably somehow in our DNA, people generally travel a lifetime unaware of its existence. And just knowing that it exists, doesn’t make it come out and play. You need a method, a technique, a skill. Actually, this is not quite true. The meditative function can arise spontaneously every now and then, but it may only last a few moments and not seem to be anything specific. One would not be likely to suspect that it represents a full, fourth state of consciousness and that it is worth cultivating. Human life does not have a built-in pressure to force the appearance of this function, as it does with many of its other natural functions. That is part of the reason meditation is widely viewed as a discretionary act, appropriate to some and not to others.
The meditative function stands patiently in the wings, ready to come on stage at almost any moment. It does not await our desire for it, our belief in its value or our command. Instead, it awaits some very basic conditions of the mind and body that are under our control. Calling the meditative function to come on stage simply entails setting up and holding certain mental and physical conditions. The conditions are simple yet delicate, as are those required for sleep and dreaming, and they are the essential ingredient in meditation. We will list the recipe, the ten basic steps of the Natural Meditation, in Idea #9.
If it sounds odd to say that the meditative function is natural, yet it must be learned, take a moment to consider sleep. Sleep is surely a natural function, but babies don’t need to learn to sleep. Or do they? Actually, falling asleep is entirely natural and automatic, but staying asleep for a full cycle of sleep is a learned skill. We awaken slightly several times in the night—as some know all to painfully—and make little, learned decisions that allow us to go back to sleep gracefully. The meditative function is like this. The inward turn of attention may be naturally experienced in short intervals, but the tendency to return to the outward, project-making mentality jumps in after a few seconds. As a result, the full cycle of the meditative function does not occur. We need to learn how to stay with the process as it ebbs and flows in order to experience even a five-minute meditation.
Previous Idea — Next Idea