The Meditative Mind

People often ask about the state of mind brought about in meditation. Characteristic replies speak of tranquillity, one-pointed concentration, and a sense of unity with all. But more significant than mental states that occur in the stillness and withdrawal of our meditation period, is the development of a meditative mind. This is a mind that is steeped in higher values at all times, and can, without pressure or struggle, find rest, freedom and clarity as one’s natural interior base. Such a mind can instantaneously merge with the essence of the meditation text, without the need for inner preparation, because it is already at home in the higher values. Just as small children may be allowed to play outside, as long as they remain close to home, so the meditative mind is one that plays in the streets and gardens of the world, yet is ever close to its home in the higher consciousness.

A similar question about the inner development is raised in the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. How does one whose mind is rooted in the higher idealism apply this deeper understanding to the normal activities of daily life, where one ‘speaks, sits and moves about’. The answer sheds light on the meditative mind. Such a person has the capacity at all times to lift their attention and seeming absorption away from the worldly situation and turn within to the peace of the higher Self, which has no bound or limit. Though there is full participation in life, there is no attachment to it—no desire to extend pleasurable connections and no hatred or indignation when things apparently go wrong. The unfulfilled desires that nestle in the heart’s core, have been neutralised and no longer have the power to force us into action.

Thus the meditative mind has brought about an inner clearing so that interference from unhelpful thought currents is instantly recognised and undermined through the recall and resort to the home base of purity and wisdom.

This does not mean that the meditative mind is established in us without a conscious re-education in the timeless and universal values that are designed to awaken what is best and highest in our own being. Students of higher wisdom may recall the three forms of mind commended by the Zen master, Dogen: joyful mind, kind mind, great mind. Joyful mind discerns the good in all circumstances; kind mind has a loving parental attitude to all living beings; great mind is free from partiality and is equanimous whatever happens, whether trivial or life-changing.

The meditative mind thus calls for a degree of insight and mastery over our thoughts and feelings. But this is not the mastery based on will-power alone, which involves tension and repression. The true mastery is based on love—love and attraction for that higher idealism which keeps our consciousness unenclosed and ever-expanding. It is the sublime thoughts of the deeper reality that underlies all appearances and all minds, which ultimately will prove more powerful than the casual and often aimless thought processes that usually rule our life.

All human minds have the innate capacity to become meditative. The seeds of self-upliftment are in each of us, but the glory of wisdom usually requires some study and assimilation on our part so that we may learn how it applies to our own inner life and possibilities.

The end of our quest is something more then the meditative mind. It is self-realisation. This is our awakening to the true nature of our own consciousness and being, the ‘I am’. Our I am is more miraculous than any psychic phenomena, more profound than any vision or visitation of the sacred. For the true self, when liberated from all limited ideas about its nature, reveals itself in and through the meditative mind as the absolute reality, which makes possible yet transcends all that is transient, limited, and seemingly other than our true nature.

This article is from the Spring 2023 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.