Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Being and Meaning

How to Meditate
How to Meditate 

"The artist uses canvas and color to speak his deeper insights.  He feels that the communication has somehow lost its power if it has to be explained in words.  The composer uses sound to transmit thought and feeling and again feels that any effort to put it into words dims the meaning. . . In meditation something of the creative nature of the being achieves a meaning that is not bound by the symbolic structure of language.  The forms this creative process employ vary with our understanding of the nature of the cosmos and the nature of the human personality." (Edgar N. Jackson, "Afterword", p 142-3)

If you are looking for a short introduction to meditation without a particular religious bias this is the book for you. Organized into twelve chapters each of which discuss a basic issue regarding meditation, the book is as practical as one can be when discussing this concept.
 Why do we meditate? LeShan suggests on the opening page of the book that "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." (p 1) There are many names for what this means in reality and LeShan discusses these. I found the sections on how to and what the effects of meditation are to be especially informative. While suggesting that paranormal feelings and events should be excluded from the process of meditation he does not deny that they exist. He follows up with a chapter on the "traps" of mysticism that is convincingly effective. While he encourages those interested in meditation to seek out others who share that interest he definitely believes that this is a practice that may be done alone and he provides suggestions for those who choose this approach.
 Finally, the afterword by Edgar N. Jackson provides a summing up and places LeShan's book in the context of the history of spiritual thought. With the inclusion of referential footnotes this text is an impressive short presentation of meditation for the the thoughtful reader.

How to Meditate by Lawrence LeShan, Afterword by Edgar N. Jackson. Bantam Books, 1975 (1974).

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