Is Meditation a Vague Imagination of Happiness? A Mood Making of Sorts?
Have you heard this expression, “Don’t believe in your own lies”? I think we spend our whole life believing in our own lies; our own projections; our own imaginations. You might live a few moments of truth here and there. But most of it is just projections.
When that is the case, where does meditation stand?
So, many people believe that meditation is just mood making. A make believe happiness. A projection of happiness that has no basis. Are they right?
On a first look, it does seem that they are.
If you read about meditation, you will find that we meditators like to describe experience of meditation by throwing in a barrage of positive words and ethereal expressions.
Here is a simple experiment you can do.
Ask this to someone who has been meditating for long, “What is your experience of meditation?”
And they (including me) will tell you how ecstatic we feel, how our stress has evaporated, how focused we have become and how our sorrows have melted away…
We might go on and on adding superlatives on top of superlatives on top of some randomly chosen positive words.
As if “happy” was not enough, we will say “very very happy”.
As if saying “no stress” was not enough, we will say “no stress at all; zero stress state”.
As if just saying “focus” was not enough, we will say “laser sharp focus; like a blade; like you have never known before.”
You will find there is no end to our imagination.
So then what is the reality? Is meditation an imagination of happiness?
Proof of Happiness
Before we explore further, let me ask you — how do you know if you are happy or not?
Isn’t it purely your own judgement based on your situation? You may fake happiness. But deep down you know if you are happy or not.
Suppose your son or daughter gets their dream job, you will be happy. Suppose you win a lottery, you will be happy. Or suppose you get a nice relaxing massage, you will be happy.
Usually, you can fix your happiness to a definite event. There is proof of why you felt happy. It is visceral. There is record of the event.
But where is the proof of happiness in meditation? Nowhere except in your own experience. There is no event to prove it. You cannot tell somebody that such and such event happened. “Here is the proof”.
No there is no proof. Because all you did was, you sat in a corner with your eyes closed.
Did flowers bloom as result? It might be the fall. So no. No flowers bloomed. Did clouds part away to make way for sunshine? It might be thundering outside. So no sunshine either. Did birds start singing? There might be a brawl happening outside your house while you were meditating.
So where is the proof? Unfortunately, nobody can prove if meditation will make you happy. Meditation is the most pragmatic thing, ever. Unless you do it, you wouldn’t know a thing.
No amount of reading is going to convince you that meditation leads to happiness. It doesn’t mean anything unless you do it and experience something for yourself.
And once you do experience something, do you want to label that feeling as happiness? You could do that. If that’s what you mind projects the experience to be.
But believe me it means nothing for the other person you are trying to explain, except for them to experience something all by themselves.
Is There Any Solid Scientific Basis For Mediation
One good thing about science is that you can record facts through experimentation. If an experiment fails you have reasons. You can device another experiment to gather more facts.
But how many of us really perform those scientific experiments in everyday life? I learnt scientific method in school — did some experiments where we were forced to produce certain results, because the “greats of the science” had already proven them. So we were merely reproducing their results blindly. And if we deviated, it was our fault. Of course.
That was my brief brush with science. I think most of us have that kind of scientific education. I am not blaming the system. This is what I am getting to…
…I believe science is an individual pursuit. It need not start in school for you. It may start sometime later in life. Or, it might as well start in school or college for some folks. Who knows?
But it is an individual pursuit. And the systems are in place just to give us a hint about what was done by other people and what is possible.
Same with meditation. It is an individual pursuit. The experiences of the greats are references available to us. To guide what is possible. Nothing more.
So What Kind of Investigation You Do in Meditation?
It is an investigation into absence of imagination & judgement.
Unlike a scientific investigation where the whole effort is to reason about events, in meditation the event you are exploring is for your mind to come a rest. A pin drop silence.
The pursuit is to give pursuits and efforts some rest. If you continue to meditate long enough, you will not find it difficult to accept that your reasoning is merely a projection.
Now when it comes to scientific experiments, the symmetry of certain basic principles is paramount for them to work — for our knowledge of science to grow.
Essentially, it means that if you do an experiment that Newton did, you will end up getting the same results as he got.
Without this basis of symmetry, science as we know it today, will fall apart.
Meditation is different in the sense your experiment is purely your own experiment.
No amount of saying “very very happy” will make the other person “very very happy”. And you don’t even know if you are talking about the same thing. So meditation is a personal scientific experiment.
Mood Making is Jugglery. Meditation is Different.
Mood making is a jugglery of emotions. By spinning emotions around, you get a false sense of happiness. For example, you can distract yourself by playing video games to avoid feeling sad. While you are doing so, you feel happy. That’s mood making.
Technology is pure jugglery too. You know how computers work? Right? It is the jugglery of electronics that makes us believe that our typing on the keyboard is creating words on the screen. Magic.
So is meditation that kind of jugglery of mind?
At some level you can say that it is. Because perceiving something as happiness is jugglery of events & mind.
If you feel happy after meditation, some jugglery is at play. But there is one distinction. Meditation gives you an option to go beyond this jugglery.
In meditation, you can see happiness as happiness and sadness as sadness. You can take a step back.
The Final Proof
Meditate. Yes, this is the final proof. Meditate.
And once you do that, whatever you experience, forget about it. And then meditate again tomorrow.
You feel happy? Be happy.
Tears flow out after meditation? Cry.
You feel relaxed? Relax.
Don’t disbelieve your experience. This is your pure personal experience.
Your mind has measured some experiences as a result of your experiment. And it has presented the outcomes to you as happiness, or relief or relaxation. You can’t put numbers around these outcomes. But you can’t deny their existence.
Are you not going to believe in your own experience? You should. But once you do that, throw it out. Because tomorrow will be another day.
That’s how meditation is not mood making. That’s how it pragmatic.
If somebody tells you that meditation will make you “very very very very happy”, you know they are not wrong. They are just projecting something beautiful. Take it as light as a feather. Enjoy it, as it floats in the air.
You know what you have to do.