Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Is meditation hard or easy? Pleasant or unpleasant?


Thomas Traherne (c1637-1674)

Centuries of Meditations - First Century

What is more easy and sweet than meditation? Yet in this hath God
   commended His Love, that by meditation it is enjoyed. As nothing is
   more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think
   well. The easiness of thinking we received from God, the difficulty of
   thinking well proceeded from ourselves. Yet in truth, it is far more
   easy to think well than ill, because good thoughts be sweet and
   delightful: Evil thoughts are full of discontent and trouble. So that
   an evil habit and custom have made it difficult to think well, not
   Nature. For by nature nothing is so difficult as to think amiss.


Meditation (musing in solitude) ought to be easy and sweet. Naturally it is.

But if so, why then do more people not meditate? - why is it so rare, and apparently getting ever rarer?

Modern people behave as if they would do almost anything except meditate.


Since meditation is free and universally available - it must be that people are either afraid to meditate, or at least unrewarded by, most likely bored by, meditation.

Plus there is a large apparatus of addictive Mass Media in place to deter and sabotage meditation.

This apparatus ensures that nothing is, for us, more difficult than to think well..


Yet thinking well is naturally easy (hence 'common' sense is indeed - naturally - common).

It is 'evil habit and custom' that make us avoid meditation - this is what makes modern people avoid meditation; and the widespread and active avoidance of meditation is a measure of our thralldom, as a culture, to evil habit and custom.  



Bill said...

What about prayer?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bill - I don't understand the question: what about it? Traherne isn't talking about prayer.

Don said...

Many Christians associate meditation with Eastern religions. I have practiced that type of meditation and found it helped greatly with my blood pressure.

I am also of the musing, relaxation, meditation sort and find it easiest when I am driving or walking however, simply sitting is good as well if it is quiet. Outdoors is best.

Eastern meditation can be hard. IIRC some folks can change the shape of their brains by long term meditation.

Adam G. said...

Journal keeping is a meditative practice.

I like Sunday School lesssons and church services for it. My mind seems to naturally engage in 'focused wandering' at those times.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Meditation is both hard and easy.

Letting go of the noise that floats up like flotsam and jetsam is very challenging. Distraction floods the mind's frame with ease, and gently I must move back to the silent space of intense attention. Ecstatic states like spectral rays through melting ice also can become blinds, as beautiful as they are.

And yet, it can be as simple as sitting quietly or walking or breathing.

George Goerlich said...

I think Bill is referring to the apparent overlap between prayer and meditation. Both words are often used to refer to the practices of Hesychasm. For example, we are told to "pray without ceasing" and this is believed a call to recite the Jesus Prayer endlessly in a meditative-type state, or repeat it in semi-meditation while doing other actions like walking, eating, etc.

I think reciting the Rosary could be seen under a similar light.

Or the eastern religions practice something even more simple - focus on breathing or such and trying to cultivate a state where thoughts temporarily cease and one is simply aware (helps clear the mind/make you feel at peace) which is called meditation, but a similar effect can result from reciting the "Jesus Prayer."

Then what I think you're referring to is also called meditation, where one just lets the mind wander and think on good things.