Monday, March 17, 2008

Why Meditate? (Part 1)

In my previous post, "Who Am I?" I mentioned that I was meditating 20 years ago. Why did I start?

I was in my early twenties. I had just completed vocational school, and I was working full time.

One day, I was lying in bed and some strange woman kept asking me who the president was. At the time, Reagan was the President, but I answered Carter or Ford. I wasn't sure, and it was really hard for me to stay awake.

But then I woke up on my own. I was in a strange room. I asked the ceiling, "Where am I?" and I heard my mom tell me that I'm in the hospital. She explained that I had gotten into a car crash and had a concussion. "Don't you remember?"

I didn't remember any of it. After I got out, we drove back to the scene of the crash. I couldn't remember ever being there, but I did notice that the four-way intersection had only one stop sign.

Anyway, while recuperating, I wondered about my amnesia. Certainly I was awake and conscious when the crash occurred and before then. And witnesses said I was awake and conscious when I was removed from the car and had my head wound stitched. So where were my memories of all that? If a person is partly made up of memory and experience, was I really the same person who was in the crash?

I also considered my mortality. There was so much to learn before leaving Earth. I was especially interested in all those unexplained phenomena, such as telepathy, and psychokinesis.

So I embarked from our local library on a journey through the literature of such things. Being of a scientific mind, I followed the footnotes in the less speculative books. I don't remember exactly which books I read until I made my way to works on mysticism by Evelyn Underhill, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton, as well as The Cloud of Unknowing. I also read a bit about Taoism and Buddhism, including the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The basis of all this diverse experience of religion appeared to be meditation. And it seemed that meditation would help me cut through the fog of my existence. I wasn't really paying attention to my surroundings, and I needed to change that. So that's when I came across Lawrence LaShan's "How To Meditate" and undertook a discipline of meditation.

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