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January 2018 – The Benefits of Meditation

Volume 4, Part 1 of The Notebooks, Meditation, begins with the following quote: “Of all the day’s activities this non-activity into meditation, must become the principal one. It ought to be the centre, with all the others circling round it.”

In Para 2 of Chapter 1, PB covers some benefits of meditation to humankind. To the religionist: “He who indulges in theological speculation about the soul without having trod the inner way to the actual experience of it for himself is like a man standing outside a restaurant with shuttered windows and purporting to describe the meals being served inside.”

To the moralist: “Our morals will automatically adjust themselves, our credo of ethics will automatically right itself once we have come into spiritual self-enlightenment. A technique of mind-training is indispensable to true self-knowledge.”

For the artist: “However talented he may be, a man can produce only substitutes for works of genius if he lacks the capacity to achieve self-absorbed states. The cultivation of this habit is a powerful help to the development of inspired moods. This is an age of brilliance. The talent for wit, satire, and sophistication abounds. But the true artist needs to go deeper than that. Art which lacks a spiritual import possesses only a surface value. The sun of inspiration shines upon all alike, but few people are so constituted as to be able to behold it.”

For the overworked and tired: “Meditation is essential because it affords a wonderful relief by creating a little secret place within himself where the sordid world will be less able to hurt him, the events of life less able to depress him. Moreover, he needs meditation not only because an unrestrained external activity is not enough but also because it brings up out of the subconscious stores (of) unexpected ideas which may be what he was subconsciously seeking previously or provides him with swift intuitions which throw light on perplexing problems.”

“For the idealist who is struggling in a hard and harsh world, short daily periods of meditation will in time become the blessed sanctuary wherein he can keep alive his repressed aspirations.”

“Finally meditation is essential for every man because without it he lives at too great a radius from his divine centre to understand the best thing which life can offer him. He must reclaim the divine estate of which he is the ignorant owner. O! it is worthwhile to make this sacred incursion and attain, for a time, a noble and wiser state of himself. By this daily act of returning into himself, he reaffirms his divine dignity and practices true self-respect.”

Chapter 7, titled Mindfulness, Mental Quiet, further identifies benefits. Para 25, page 242, reads “If he practices mental stillness until he masters it, he will benefit proportionately. For in its deepest quietude he can find the highest inspiration.” “It is good practice to put one’s questions or state one’s problems before beginning a meditation and then to forget them. Unless the meditation succeeds in reaching the still, the full response cannot be made.” (Para 50, p. 244.)

He ends this volume on Meditation by these thoughtful words: “The way his body moves, works, walks, behaves, reveals something of the inner man, the ego. But non-movement, sitting quite still, can reveal even more—the being behind the ego. However, this remains a mere unrealized possibility if the man is without knowledge or instruction.” (Para 68, p. 246.)

“To be in Mental Quiet is to observe the mind’s own nature,” wrote Lao Tzu (para 69).