What is The Purpose of Meditation? by Marcus Antebi
One thing that I often find missing in books on meditation and yoga is the answer to a specific question: What is the purpose of all this?
Some people are like me. They’ll try any of the wacky things out there because they are people who like esoterica and things that sound spiritual in nature. Just a practice in itself brings me some comfort because it’s something positive to do instead of doing nothing.
But what if you don’t experience any benefits after a couple of weeks of trying it? At that point it just seems like utter nonsense. What if meditation, breathing exercises and such are snake oil being sold to you like most of the other ridiculous things that human beings sell each other?
I thought about that very deeply. And what I realized was that meditation is not a spiritual practice for me. That was a very big breakthrough in my mentality. I had to come to realize that meditation was a mental exercise that had a very distinct point to it. I realized that the tendency of my mind was to wander on its own aimlessly, like a four-year-old child in an amusement park.
When I wander and I’m not focusing on the thing that I’m doing, then I tend to do that thing on autopilot. If I’m skateboarding and I’m thinking about the restaurant that I’m going to later, my body is working on muscle memory. There’s very little room for me to improve when I’m in that state of being: I can’t become a better skateboarder by thinking about a restaurant. Additionally, I didn’t get nearly as much out of the skateboarding experience as I could have because I wasn’t totally into it. Even though my body was there, my mind was somewhere else.
I was born in 1969, and I feel like I wasn’t present for about 75% of the things that I have done. That means that 40 years of my life went missing. I have recollections and memories, but I missed a lot of it because I was in an obsession. I wasn’t able to focus on the thing that I was doing. Because of that, there was often no enjoyment in whatever that thing was. There was no chance for any kind of mastery.
The best woodcarvers, the best samurais, the best tightrope walkers, the best copy editors, the best airline pilots, the best surfers, the best surgeons: These are people who are probably very capable of being in the moment of what they’re doing as if that thing that they’re doing is a meditation in itself.
I’ve now come to learn that this presence of mind is the highest state of being. It is the thing that I look to achieve moment by moment every day. It takes a lot of effort and practice on my part, since my routine was something different for the majority of my life. Results of meditation practices are likely not miraculous for anyone at first. This is the case because while you’re concentrating and focusing on getting into meditation practices, your understanding of the nature of reality also has to unfold. And that process takes time.
We’ve been put to sleep by our experiences. We’ve been put to sleep by many incorrect training experiences about the nature of life. We’ve been put to sleep by a disconnection from nature. We have been put to sleep by our separation from the right type of community to support mental development.
Many may perceive the development that I’m referring to as spiritual development, but I don’t really believe that the word “spiritual” is fitting. Everything that we do is towards spiritual development in some way. So at least to me it goes without saying that people who want to become conscious and wake up their minds need to work through and heal certain wounds.
Those wounds come by way of experiences of pain, trauma, and repressed subconscious feelings. There’s no escaping the things that we experience as young children and how they affect our grownup life. If there is such a thing that can be called spiritual development, then it includes repairing damage to our delicate psyches that occurred when we were young. I’ve said this in many of my writings: I am certain that all of us, some of us more than others, have been afflicted by psychological and emotional damage related to childhood experiences. The evidence is all around us in the modern, western, chaotic world, and we are part of it. But at some point we can jump out of the loop and concentrate on the things that are important to people such as us.
If you’ve read this far into the book, then you and I must have a lot in common. It’s important to us to search and find more and more truth. It’s important for us to become self-realized. We do that by asking ourselves the question, “Who am I? What motivates me? What happened to me? What is in my character that needs fixing?” People like us care about our diet, we care about clean water, we care about the air that we breathe, we care about the health of the planet, and we care about civility. All of these things are the signs of people who are beginning to become enlightened.
Legendary myths of great people in the past who were born to enlighten you are not true. They are largely childish fantasies and promises of magic. Any human being that woke up their mind did so because they put a lot of work into it.
Everything that I am writing is subject to change. I’m going to know more tomorrow. I’m going to write a new book. In the new book I’ll take all this writing and I will try to disprove it. I don’t believe that human beings speak absolute truth. Collectively, we’re on a mutual journey, even if some of us don’t know it. We’re on a mutual journey to discover the best way of thinking and behaving for the preservation of our species and our earth.
In many ways it looks like the modern world has come to the end of some really terrible cycles of destruction. But who am I to judge? I can’t see the entire picture. All I can do is focus on what I can do for myself to be the best human being that I can be. In doing this I realize today more than ever that I must be critically careful with my thoughts. This is the case because my thoughts lead to words that I speak. I could do so much damage with my words in this world. And of course I also have to be incredibly cognizant of my actions.
I’m grateful to be on this journey and I’m grateful that you’re taking steps with me. We will probably never meet each other. But by sharing in this type of work and finding your path of self-realization you will be adding to the collective consciousness of humanity. And, again, I don’t believe that this is a spiritual endeavor. I believe it’s a very physical and psychological science. And that’s the subject of another article.