by Dr. Larry Morris
We meditate to achieve self-realization, conscious union with God. We meditate as a way of learning to surrender ourselves to God. But these are "advanced" notions of meditation. Many of us begin to meditate simply to get our lives together, to help us find solutions to our everyday problems. We need that sense of momentary peace and quiet so that the rest of our day can flow together more smoothly.
Initially we perceive our meditation practice as an isolated event. We agree to set aside twenty minutes or so twice a day to turn within and become quiet and receptive. And then we go about our day without much concern with how that twenty minutes affects the rest of our lives. We just know that we are a little calmer and more centered and able to cope in a more harmonious, and perhaps, more humorous way with our life.
But at some point in our meditation experience, an unusual question begins to arise within us: How does this time of quiet clarity and stillness relate to all the other moments of our life? What is the connection between our meditation and the rest of our life? Once this question occurs, we begin the process of conscious integration of our meditation experience with our daily life. So meditation as life-enhancement gives way to meditation as soul-unfoldment and spiritual transformation. This is such a subtle and gentle way that we forget at times that we are being transformed, that we are in process. We consciously try to understand the significance of each moment and each event in our lives in relationship to meditation. We work so hard to conscientiously stay with our meditation discipline.
But then one day, we suddenly realize that meditation has us; we can no longer not meditate. We have worked so much to experience inner transformation; we want it so badly; we want to be different, to live a new life, to feel differently about ourselves and our own world—to feel the love, peace, and joy of God in our lives. Then, one day, we wake up and discover that it's already happened. It happened without our even noticing it. It wasn't that great flash of light we thought it would be: slowly, step-by-step, line-by-line, precept-by-precept, we are changed from within out—it's no longer the same world; it's no longer the same us. As Jesus said, "The works are finished." We no longer struggle to meditate; we are the process of meditation. We no longer just practice meditation; we are the practice of meditation—we personify the fruits of our meditation.
And suddenly, without our quite knowing how it happened, God is in charge of our lives. God comes first. Many of us began to meditate with little faith in God or anything else. Faith and Trust in God comes into our minds and hearts as we stay with the process. The demonstration of God's Presence comes and we know that life has really changed. Sometimes we see it only in small ways; a beautiful sunset or a child's tender smile will suddenly light up a new feeling of joy in our hearts.
But then the real magic and wonder of this life begins to dawn on us. As Alan Watts said, we begin to realize that "this earth itself is in deep outer space." And we ourselves are an intimate part of this infinite cosmos; we belong here; we're connected—no longer strangers—suddenly and finally, we're at home in this universe, and this is a Good place to be. As the Zen master says, "My miracle is that when I am hungry, I eat; when I am thirsty, I drink." And meditation has brought us to this sense of wonder at just being alive—this complete willingness to say yes to our lives and to let go, and let God unfold as us and our world.