Can You Learn Meditation from a Book?
I get asked this a lot. Someone just asked me yesterday in fact. The problem is, and this is why I've never written a book on meditation, it's extremely difficult to learn a really deep form of meditation from a book. Yes, you can learn exercises that approach meditation, if you're disciplined enough to do it. But the most effective forms of meditation transcend doing. Meditation puts you into a different state of consciousness, at least deep meditation does. So think about it this way: If you were an insomniac and you read a book to fall asleep, you might get some ideas for relaxing. You might rub oil on your feet or put warm oil in your ears, or get a foot massage, or count sheep or whatever. But when all is said and done, while you're lying there, if you're making any conscious effort to fall asleep, that will keep you awake. Likewise with meditation. you might get some things that help you approach a meditative state from a book, but the actual slipping into deep meditation, which will bring the real results, happens without your doing. If you can get that from a book, with the confidence you are doing just the right thing (for you'll need that confidence to continue for many years), then go for it. You'd be one of those very rare people who got it from a book. A good teacher, however, can convey that to almost anyone, if the person is open, interested, and has a little patience. This is why, traditionally, meditation was always taught directly from teacher to student. I've taught so many people who tried to learn from a book first. None of them knew the first thing about real meditation, no matter how many books they had read. In my opinion, there just isn't really a good shortcut. But good luck, if you're so inclined. If you're interested in learning from a teacher, check out my Web site
Meditation: Is it a matter of Self-Discipline?
Many people seem to think that they can't progress in meditation because they lack the self-discipline. "I just can't seem to get myself to take the time to do it," is a common statement I hear from would-be meditators. Funny thing is, I've meditated at least twice a day for nearly 34 years, and I don't think it's ever been a matter of discipline for me. I meditate for the same reason I eat blueberry sorbetbecause it's absolutely a wonderful experience. Only more than sorbet, way more so.
What people need is a deeper experience of meditation. With deeper experience, you get more bliss, and with more bliss, who wouldn't want to meditate? The best meditators are hedonists; you can bet on that. Sure, eventually, it's good to transcend the hedonism, but by then you're into so much bliss, you don't need to seek it anymore; you're already in it.
Anyway, there are ways to increase depth of meditation. The Power of Being
combines a number of simple but profound practices to insure the deepest experience of bliss and pure consciousness. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to meditate regularly, but thinks they lack "discipline."
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Enlightenment: Self-effort or grace?
A few days ago, someone who'd taken my meditation class, The Power of Being
, asked me whether enlightenment was something we earned, or a gift. Seems to me that everything is a gift, every single moment, everything that comes to us. We may think we have control over what we get, but actually it's nature that delivers the fruits of our actions. We have no absolute control; we are dependent on the laws of nature to respond to our actions. The fact that some people get results with minimum effort, and others may get little result with great effort, shows that the response of nature to our actions depends upon other, less obvious factors, such as past karma. Nevertheless, our actions do certainly increase the chances of receiving the gift of whatever we are striving for. There is definitely a relationship. We do need self-effort, we do need to actso long as we still experience ourselves as the actor.
So it seems to me the perfect attitude in everything, but especially regarding spiritual experience and growth, is to know that by our actions we are merely soliciting grace, and remain entirely grateful for the gifts we receive. This doesn't mean we can be weak in our actions. As it says somewhere in the Bhagavad-Gita, God responds to us according to how we worship. If we "worship" life in a weak manner through our actions, the result is likely to follow accordingly. If we strive with sincerity, intensity, and devotion, the result will also follow accordingly (karma and other factors remaining equal). For the greatest possible fruit, absolute bliss consciousness, enlightenment, the greatest sincerity, intensity, devotion, and balance is needed.
But the main factor in receiving grace, is that our actions be in harmony with all the laws of nature, for this thinking, feeling, and action need to arise from the clarity of inner pure consciousness. This is why meditation
is the greatest support for achieving anything in life.
Talking about meditation, spirituality, Indian Philosophy, various topics related to spiritual growth, including relationships as a path of spiritual growth.
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
My Meditation Web site.
Articles on Meditation.
"A wonderfully personal exploration of relationship as a path of growth and
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John Welwood, Ph.D. (Journey Of The