What is the point of meditating?
Different schools have different views. In this work, meditation is not considered a path in itself but rather a useful training of skills needed for other work.
On a most basic level, meditation allows insight into the profound difference between perceiving and thinking. It is a way of learning to separate from thinking, so that the mind is not the thinker but simply a place where thought arises.
Meditation can explore impartial attention which is self-arising and self-cognizing. My attention is partial, expressing a divided self which actively creates duality of experience. Impartial attention requires no observer, no one to attend. This insight is possible in meditation.
Meditation accommodates not-doing. We are always busy evaluating, judging, assessing, reacting to what we like and don’t like. We continually interfere with experience which sustains confusion. Meditation opens the possibility of indifference to all this useless habitual activity and indifference lessens the tendency to interfere. Greater order results.
When I try to meditate I find that I do not meet my expectations of what is supposed to happen.
This is a most perfect exposition of your meditation problem, if I may call it that. It is, in fact, the universal meditation problem—expectations. It is so normal to expect something that we are almost always expectant and we usually aren’t even aware of it.
Perhaps you are aware of your meditation expectations—that you will have some sort of experience that you have read about—enlightenment or something psychic that makes you feel special. It makes no difference what you expect, it’s all the same. Expecting is a state which is independent of its content or expression. Expecting means not being satisfied with the present…it’s a state of disagreement or rejection hidden under the guise of hope, hope for something different or better. Begin meditation by agreeing with what is happening now.
Agreement is a pure action of will, probably the only one you are capable of. It is not a mental acknowledgement. Agreement is a movement in the viscera that aligns you to the present, an alignment that confirms that everything is ok, everything is workable.
When we meditate I am distracted by the sounds outside and I find myself in a battle to stay with it.
That is because you are trying to control your attention. Some people think the answer is to give up trying to control your attention but the challenge is more profound than control. The issue is that you have limited potential attention to your attention. Your attention is limited by you and therefore it is not potent enough to attend to meditation and the sounds outside. Your attention is forced to make choices. Real attention is capable of attending to everything at the same time. Your thinking may be racing around trying to think of all the things attention is attending to and because your thinking is sequential it will always fall behind the speed and accuracy of real attention, which does not require the mediation of words. Your attention tries to follow your thinking. Real attention precedes it.
How would you describe real attention?
Real attention is a radiant field of energy…a timeless medium for the instantaneous transfer of experience. It is a function or property of space in which we can participate voluntarily, or not. It is the congruence of perception and will which, when voluntarized, connects us to our experience. It is the catalyst which transforms sensation into consciousness. It is the necessary and sufficient condition of our possible evolution.