Unless You Meditate Constantly
When a disciple of the Zen master Busan was leaving the monastery to re-enter the world, his master advised him as follows: “Remember, unless you meditate constantly, your light of truth will go out.” This is related by Paul Rep in his book Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.
In the higher schools of Zen Buddhist meditation they use the term joriki, which roughly translates as ‘meditation energy’. It is a type of spiritual momentum and clarity that is built up through consistent and concentrated meditation. It is similar to the principle of inertia: if a body, say a vehicle, has come to rest, it takes tremendous energy to set it in motion again. Once it is rolling it is far easier to jog alongside and apply a firm and consistent pressure to keep it moving. As satsangis we want to avoid stop-start meditation which allows the consciousness to drop down into dullness and dormancy.
In the meditation state we awaken and develop a wonderful sense of lightness, detachment and presence. It is natural and automatic. When the turbulence of constant activity and thought subside, spirit rises of its own accord – that is its nature. Imperceptibly, magically, we become strangely unaffected by the pleasures and pains of our life situation. The thorns of our inevitable destiny still lie on our respective paths, but we barely feel them as we become almost weightless. We start to glide through life instead of hooking on to, and reacting to, every little thorn, allowing pinpricks to feel like dramatic sword thrusts. When our meditation slackens, our consciousness drops. When this happens, everything in creation hurts and stings.
Instead, we are to rest our consciousness in the deep and steady stream of consciousness that flows steadily and horizontally beneath the dramatic ups and downs of the rollercoaster ride we call life. This stream is pure love; it is our home in this world, and consistent meditation keeps us connected to it. This is the only way, as the Gita puts it, ‘to disconnect from union with sorrow’.
Now there is a why to all of our actions and a reason for all of our choices: do they keep me connected to the stream of love or do they disconnect me from it? Our actions become self-correcting when guided by this inner compass. Thus meditation becomes the axis around which our lives and all decisions revolve. However, if we try to fit meditation into our busy and scattered lives we will fail.
The mystic school of Sant Mat is rare among spiritual paths in its demand that aspirants meditate for two and a half hours a day. This is ingenious because, quite simply, if you commit yourself to this one vow, you will have to transform your whole life and all of your choices, in order to attain it. Your entire life is then spiritualized, elevated, and it becomes a twenty-four-hour yoga. We must each of us make meditation a living reality, a true guide and friend in both this world and the next. There is simply no other way to ‘be in the world, but not of the world’.
How else are we to perform in this field of action and still keep our connection to the current emanating from the One? When our meditation energy drops, we feel orphaned and alone in this world, scattered and depressed. When we make the effort to attend to it, we once again take hold of our Father’s hand and feel his living presence as we walk side by side through his creation, now seeing its true beauty and wonder, because we are, paradoxically, detached from it.
And this is how the mystics want us to be and how they extract the soul from the creation. Through meditation we rise and detach so that we may attach our souls to that timeless and eternal Light of Truth.