As a meditation and contemplative teacher, it is not uncommon for frustrated students to ask “Why do we do all of this meditation? Is it really doing anything?”
To this question, I have yet to find a better answer than the one provided by Anthony DeMello in his witty book, One Minute Wisdom. He offers an exchange between a spiritual master and student.
Student: “What can one do to attain enlightenment?”
Master: “Nothing more than you can do to make the sun rise”
Student: “Then why bother with all these spiritual disciplines?”
Master: “To make sure that you are awake for the sun rise”
So why all the spiritual discipline? Why all the silence and contemplative practice?
Meditation and contemplation, really, spirituality in general, is about waking up and staying awake. It’s about waking up to reality as-it-is. It’s about growing in consciousness: conscious presence.
Many of our disciplines, be them prayerful or mindful, are about familiarizing ourselves with awareness, so that we can meet reality from our most grounded and centered self.
And if we are on some kind of spiritual journey of enlightenment or union with God, then we must keep awake.
We can’t force enlightenment. We can’t work or effort our way into God. All of that is ego work.
But we can be simple, we can be still, we can practice conscious presence, so that we are awake in the moments that matter most.
Why meditate? It’s about staying awake, so that we don’t miss the sunrise, the birds’ song, or the beauty in the laugh of a baby.
Find some time today to slow down, be still, and engage in your disciplines as a means to waking up and staying awake!
Keith Kristich lives in Buffalo, NY where he teaches meditation, contemplative prayer and the Enneagram. As a lover of spirituality and world religions, Keith seeks to help people slow down and connect with their deep self and the divine within. You can find more about Keith’s work at https://www.keithkristich.com/