spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister sites: DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles, and
ColoradoCounseling.com, an information site on holistic cognitive therapy.

Home | Writings | General | Lawrence LeShan | Meditate part 1 | next   

Excerpted from How to Meditate by Lawrence LeShan. Copyright 1974 by Lawrence LeShan. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"We meditate to find, to recover, to come back to something of ourselves we once dimly and unknowingly had and have lost without knowing what it was or where or when we lost it."

Lawrence LeShan, 
How to Meditate
, Part 1

A few years ago, I was at a small conference of scientists all of whom practiced meditation on a daily basis. Toward the end of the four-day meeting, during which each of them had described at some length how he meditated, I began to press them on the question of why they meditated. Various answers were given by different members of the group and we all knew that they were unsatisfactory, that they did not really answer the questions. Finally one man said, "It's like coming home." There was silence after this, and one by one all nodded their heads in agreement. There was clearly no need to prolong the inquiry further.

This answer to the question "Why meditate?" runs all through the literature written by those who practice this discipline. We meditate to find, to recover, to come back to something of ourselves we once dimly and unknowingly had and have lost without knowing what it was or where or when we lost it. We may call it access to more of our human potential or being closer to ourselves and to reality, or to more of our capacity for love and zest and enthusiasm, or our knowledge that we are a part of the universe and can never be alienated or separated from it, or our ability to see and function in reality more effectively. As we work at meditation, we find that each of these statements of the goal has the same meaning. It is this loss, whose recovery we search for, that led the psychologist Max Wertheimer to define an adult as "a deteriorated child."

Eugen Herrigel, who studied the Zen method of meditation for a long time, wrote, "Working on a KOAN [a meditational technique of that school] leads you to a point where you are behaving like a person trying to remember something you have forgotten." And Louis Claude de St Martin, summing up his reasons for his long years of meditation, succinctly put it, "We are all in a widowed state and our task is to re-marry."

It is our fullest "humanhood," the fullest use of what it means to be human, that is the goal of meditation. Meditation is a tough-minded, hard discipline to help us move toward this goal. It is not the invention of any one man or one school. Repeatedly, in many different places and times, serious explorers of the human condition have come to the conclusion that human beings have a greater potential for being, for living, for participation and expression, than they have ability to use.

next ->