Meditation Myth — Is there is a “real” meditation?
January 26, 2009
I came across a list of meditation myths on the web. Funny thing is some myths on that list are not myths to me, they are truths. It all depends on how you define “meditation”. There are hundreds of kinds of meditations. The question is, can you say that one meditation is “real” or “true” meditation? The person who created the list I read apparently thought so, because the term “real meditation” was used. I’m quite sure I’ve use that type of language myself — in fact I remember saying something about “true meditation” on a podcast. And yet, I feel it can be really misleading to say one meditation style is real or true.
Anytime anyone makes a generalization about meditation, they are referring to a particular style of meditation. It’s not like there’s a real meditation and the rest are somehow false. The person who wrote that list comes from a particular tradition. Within the understanding of that tradition, it makes sense to speak of real meditation. If you want to learn meditation within a tradition, then knowing what that tradition defines as right or real meditation will be important to you. That particular list of myths will have value for you. But if you are not so concerned about tradition, but more concerned about what works for you regardless of its origins, then you would approach a list of myths in a whole different way. You would look at it so see what made sense and what is useful for you.
It’s only through some reference to tradition that you could say a meditation style was real. Either you are saying the tradition is somehow an authority or that you yourself are the authority on what is real meditation. Sometimes people feel that a meditation that comes from a long tradition is more real and true than a contemporary form of meditation. It makes sense that something that has been tested through time may be trustworthy. But no matter how long a tradition has been along, you are ultimately relying on someone else’s interpretation of that tradition. Who is to say that the person teaching you now understands what was meant when the tradition was started centuries ago?
Everything a teacher says is coming from his or her understanding. The bottom line is that there are really no absolutes in meditation. To me, the bottom line is that what’s real and true is what you find to be real and true in your own experience. What a book or a teacher says can only be a catalyst for your own self-discovery.