Nowhere to Go. Nobody Going There - Thoughts on Meditation
All genuine meditation has no destination and you can't get there! This of course sounds like nonsense but is in fact the literal truth. Meditation teachers will talk about there being 'nowhere to get to, nothing to attain.' In my book, 'Return to the Sacred: Ancient Pathways to Spiritual Awakening,' I talk of the 'Pathless Path' - a phrase from the Zen Buddhist tradition that points to the same thing. There is nowhere to get to, nothing to attain, no-one to attain it. A revered Japanese Zen Master - Hakuin, put it this way in his 'Song of Meditation':
And if we turn inward and prove our True Nature,
That True Self is no-self, our own self is no-self,
We go beyond ego and past clever words....
Our form now being no-form,
In going and returning we never leave home.
Our thought now being no-thought,
Our dancing and songs are the Voice of the Dharma.
How vast is the heaven of boundless Samadhi!
How bright and transparent the moonlight of wisdom!
What is there outside us? What is there we lack?
Nirvana is openly shown to our eyes.
This earth where we stand is the pure lotus land!
And this very body, the body of Buddha.
Modern life is often about getting somewhere, achieving, being productive, showing that we are somehow worthy to be taking up space and consuming resources. This is what many think of as normal, as healthy. Yet the Wisdom traditions of all cultures stress giving up ideas of getting anything, of letting go of even the notion of there being a destination. This meditation is a way of beginning to get acquainted with a way of seeing that is not dependent on ideas of gain or achievement. It is about seeing that we are already complete, lacking nothing and getting us to think about how much energy we put into attaining and achieving, instead of seeing what we already have and what is in front of us.
Sit still in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Allow your attention to come to rest gently on your breath as it enters and leaves your body, either at your nose or mouth. Don't try and change, or deepen, or slow your breathing in any way, simply be attentive to it with gentle openness. Ask yourself this one question and let it rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation:
'Do I need to add anything to this moment?' You don't need to find a verbal answer to this question. Just ask the question with each breath. Let it go deep. Think of this question as a stone dropped into a pond. We simply sit by that pond and watch the ripples rise and cease.
Just by asking the question, we start to see an alternative to being harassed, out of time, energy and patience. It's a chance too to begin to let go of the heavy burden of self that many of us carry around as if it were inescapable. We have vast reserves, infinite reserves in fact. We are not limited to the body, to the 'I'. Realizing that it is not about 'me' getting somewhere, that we are already where we need to be, can be a lifetime's journey in itself. This simple meditation can be the start of that journey. A journey to nowhere, taken by no-one and one of the most important that we will ever make.