Time Travel With Meditation

This is not a science fiction piece about using the mind to travel in time.

The idea of time travel is related to the notion that we are seeking direct knowledge from our sitting through observation of what is actually happening. With the vast amount of information available about techniques, teachings, systems etc. we often get lost in it all. It is easy to forget that there had to be a time when none of this information existed. Someone had to be the first person to ever sit down and be quiet to explore his/her inner experience. That person would have had no one to ask questions of, no one to turn to in confusion. Yet someone persisted and shared the discoveries with someone else and this process eventually produced the traditions we have inherited.

But the question I ask is this. What would you do if there were no teachers and no books? At the same time you had the curiosity to want to sit and look within to find out more about yourself and your relationship to the outside world. What would you do?

So our practice is to return to the situation of that first person to sit quietly and look at the experience of doing so. Before it was called meditation, before it was connected with metaphysical speculations, before it was thought of as a religious practice. It would have been just sitting and watching, using one’s ability to know and understand as the best tool to assess what one was learning. So in this way, we are time travelers. We recreate the conditions of being the first person to meditate.

This attitude is liberating as it removes the need to check your experience against the teachings of any particular tradition. Hence, every discovery you make is a valid and personal one. It is not possible to feel like you are doing meditation “wrong” since you are simply seeing “what is” as it is.

This feeling of being free from the descriptions of any meditative teaching is the beginning and ending of our approach. In between is true self knowledge.


Time Travel With Meditation — 3 Comments

  1. I like the emphasis on first-handedness, but there is something to be said also about not trying to re-invent the wheel. Learning from a tradition of practice what will work for you is simply selecting from the accumulated knowledge-base of human history after careful review. It’s just a matter of saving time and not wasting it while searching for the right practice. Within a review of past practice learned by others (such as Buddha) you can choose what is right for you – and what is not.

    • Ed, I see Buddhism (and its myriad sects), Taoism and other belief systems as providing a context for the practice of meditation. From my perspective it is the practice that counts and as far as I can tell the most important message from ancient traditions is that I have to sit down and be still if I’m going to benefit, be it physically, mentally or spiritually.

      I started my personal practice with almost no real knowledge or understanding of Buddhism etc (unless you count Chinese martial arts training) and the discoveries I made were my own. Yes I talked to people with more experience than I and yes I have learned more about Buddhist and Taoist philosophy and have come to appreciate them. But nobody taught me how to meditate or what to expect or what my experiences would mean.

      Somehow I don’t think I would be better off if I had studied with a monk, lama or sage and immersed myself in relevant texts. I could be wrong of course but now there is no way of knowing.

      Didn’t Buddha say to his followers that they had to find out for themselves?


  2. It seems that everyone I talk to has a different way to meditate and they all think their technique is best.. We are all different, our beliefs are different, so we should open our minds and use what works for us.