The Paradox of Meditation
by William Arkle
We may think of meditation as a deliberate way of turning our attention and our nature to those aspects of our being which are neglected by the materialistic society in which we live.
In a spiritually healthy society this would be done naturally in the way that our attention is drawn to subjects like maths, history and science at school. There is some attention to religion but subjects such as spirituality and holism are generally not backed by serious study or serious attitude, but instead treated with conventional politeness.
When we meditate we are trying to support and nourish the higher frequency aspects of our nature and trying to climb out of the prison of fear, ego, doubt, anger and life denial that materialism brings in its wake.
Instinctively we seek to do our meditation, contemplation and quiet attention in places which are least distracting for spiritual nourishment. Some environments are not only distracting but can be positively helpful.
But, from the initial purpose of balancing out materialism, meditation should become an intrinsic part of our own individual nature, so that it would be a different thing to different people and something that changes for them continually as they grow and move within themselves.
We should then add to this the fact that the purpose of our living can be understood to be the gathering of wise appreciation of all the principles involved. We can call this the maturing of our spirit towards our inherent godlikeness or divinity.
This understanding is acquired through the friction which occurs within us through conflicting experience of all sorts. It is only through first hand knowledge of these opposites that our inner understanding is able to grasp the wisdom and understanding of God for itself.
So we can say that through meditation we can achieve a balanced view of the spiritual while engaged with the material life.
We may also say that unless we confront and integrate these two aspects of our nature with one another we will not produce the often painful fires that are necessary for the distillation of real growth and wisdom within ourselves.
Consequently I find myself saying that what we refer to as meditation will eventually have to become an integral part of those aspects of life which at first seem most foreign to it.
Meditation can also be used as a word to define the extraction of our own significance and purpose from life but is also the concentrated attention required to know the significance of life itself.
Here lies the paradox, for this concentrated attention is not the same sort of attention that we started with and it seems that we must expect to change everything as we move along.
I record this little essay of William Arkle's mostly as a web duplicate (in case the publishing website goes down) and as containing some distilled insight from someone who meditated deeply and profoundly in a Christian context.
Thus, the purposes of meditation are many-fold - below I extract from the above essay, and add my comments in non-italics:
1. to support and nourish the higher frequency aspects of our nature - thus, meditation ought to be an experience of a more divine mode of experiencing.
2. trying to climb out of the prison of fear, ego, doubt, anger and life denial - thus, meditation ought to be a therapy and refuge from the sufferings of life.
3. a balanced view of the spiritual while engaged with the material life - thus, meditation should be a part of life, not the whole of life - material life and meditation are complementary and ideally life would consist of both.
4. extraction of our own significance and purpose from life - thus, meditation is about looking within ourselves and attaining to knowledge our ourselves.
5. the concentrated attention required to know the significance of life itself - thus, meditation is also about looking outwith ourselves; at our situation, context - ultimately the 'cosmology' of the ultimate human condition - the basic 'set-up' of our lives.
6. meditation will eventually have to become an integral part of those aspects of life which at first seem most foreign to it - this, I do not fully understand, probably because...
7. Meditation would be a different thing to different people and something that changes for them continually as they grow - thus, there cannot be a template or blueprint for the practice of meditation. Presumably, this means that there must be the usual process of trial-and-error in learning the best way to meditate for ourselves and at our particular stage of growth or degeneration.