The Ultimate Purpose of Meditation: Meditation’s Role in Enlightenment

I began meditating almost thirty years ago. I think at first I began just out of curiosity. I had been studying meditation in my academic training and learned how science has shown that meditation is very beneficial to us.

When I started meditating I found it to be a very relaxing, peaceful experience. Over time as I grew and discovered that meditation is really helpful for our spiritual growth, I really dived into it. I now consistently meditate every day, usually once in the morning for about an hour and then in the evening for about half an hour.

How does meditation help us live life to the fullest? The primary purpose of meditation is self-awareness: to really understand who and what we are. In that discovery we find that at our core we truly are the ultimate source of everything.

Most of us live a life of unawareness, where we are not really sure of who or what we are. We go through life thinking, "I'm a doctor", "I'm a lawyer", "I'm a kind person", "I'm married", "I'm a father" or "I'm a mother." We place labels on ourselves but they don't help us locate who we are.

The ultimate truth of what we are cannot change. If it had to change, then how could we be it? That would be like saying, "I live in this house so I am this house." But then if you move to a new house, you can't possibly have been the initial house.

But then what are we? Are we truly a doctor? Are we truly a father? Even these things can change. Our children can die or we might end our profession, for instance. If you really think about it, even one's character can change. For example, after meditating for so many decades now, I've become a much calmer and more peaceful person. That person I was before has changed, so does that mean I am the person I was before?

What meditation does is help us look within and discover who we are, what we truly are in a permanent state. When we slow down and look, we discover that which is permanent is very basic. It is like the space in which we live. We put furniture in the space, along with ourselves and many things. But when we remove everything, what is left is a space. Similarly, when we eat we put a lot of different tastes in our mouths and we enjoy them. Sometimes we don't like them, but what is the taste we have when there is no food in our mouths? What is that experience? Going back to the basis of what we are without all the extra furnishings and tastes is what meditation enables us to do. It helps us discover who we are. When everything is removed, everything that isn't permanent is taken away and we discover who we are because we start looking inward instead of constantly reacting to outside stimuli.

Many of us are like conditioned puppets. When someone praises us we feel so wonderful inside but when someone criticizes us we feel sad or angry. Who is this person that is feeling sad? Who is this person that is feeling excited? Who is this person on which all these events are occurring? This is what meditation sets out to answer. It's ultimate purpose is to discover who we are. If we don't know who we are, we are really slaves or puppets to ourselves.

Meditation is about cutting those puppet strings. When you discover that almost everything that you have done is just a conditioned reaction, you stop reacting and rather start living, start just being. Through meditation, those things that are unconscious become conscious. When we discover that we're not our thoughts, we're not our conditioning, we're not who we thought we were, our minds become quiet and we learn to just live. We can just be without all the mind chatter.

It's a beautiful experience. I can only encourage you to seek out the quiet mind, and learn what it's like to live in pure awareness, pure silence. We stop identifying with labels and we learn to just be. When we just be, there are no thoughts, there is just pure witnessing, pure awareness. The most wonderful part about it is that it is who we are. It is our real and natural self. Once we get rid of the mental clutter we discover our pure, true self. We've always been that, but these illusions of who we think we are prevented us from being who we really are.

An analogy would be to think of water. With water's various forms, such as steam and ice, you can make a variety of shapes and sculptures. But at the core, those things are still water. In a similar way, we are still going to melt back into the vast ocean which we've always been and which we'll always be. The reason for this is that we truly are permanent. We're not that which is being created and destroyed. We are that which is eternal: simply awareness and just beingness without mental commentary.

Our thoughts and feelings continue but instead of identifying with them, we just witness them. We observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment or criticism. They just are. We make mistakes, we realize this is just our conditional response. We stop labeling. We allow ourselves to simply watch what we do, what comes out of us and what comes out of other people. We step back and realize that we are, at our core, just the awareness of what is.

When we become able to identify with our true selves, the grip that these thoughts have on us will weaken and no longer strangle us. We will learn to just live life, love life as it is, even with its ups and downs, without identifying with them. If we make a mistake or if others hurt us, we are able to act spontaneously to what is happening. What arises from this is beautiful and loving. Without all the labels, when we truly just be, we become very beautiful and loving.

Even love is just a label, but I believe it is the best label we can use to describe the ocean of awareness. Even though it is only a label, it truly is what manifests when we just be.

On our path to enlightenment, the only thing we need when we meditate is to be earnest in discovering who we are. When we do this, we're awarded with discovering our truth selves and our false selves disappear. We learn to just be.

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