In a resent discussion a friend was talking about seeking calmness. Being calm is preferable to being agitated. In our high stress world, calm has become a goal of most of the clients we see.
Calm is easy. One can become calm by simply being sedated. Heavy amounts of drugs can induce calm. Illness can result in a coma. A coma is a deep state of calm. Perhaps calm is not the goal that we are really seeking.
In western meditation people go to retreat centers or set aside a special time or place to meditate. Their goal is to become calmer. The wish is that some of that calm will follow them into everyday life.
Eastern meditation, as with the Buddhist monks, starts by removing the person from everyday life. They leave all of their possessions behind. They spend years learning what inner peace is and how to achieve it. They then start to reintroduce themselves to the life outside the monasteries.
Middle Eastern meditation comes in several forms. One requires the individual to have lived and raised a family before they start. The person then fills the mind with not just knowledge but methods of analysis and logic. It is an almost scientific approach to seeking the source of the universe.
In this form of meditation one attempts to find oneness with the universe. The goal is to find the point where there is no distinction between the universe and the individual. If one were to get to that point they would no longer exist as we know existence, they would merge into the universe and the universe into them.
Westerners often talk about Eastern meditation as the individual trying to calm themselves and blocking out the entire world and the entire universe. That would be the ultimate state of loneliness. You would lose yourself and have no world. In reality the Eastern meditation has the same goal as Middle Eastern. When the Eastern people talk about a state of nothingness, they are talking of a state where they are one with everything, there is nothing to differentiate them from other people or a mountain or a star.
Since Eastern and Middle Eastern meditation have the same goal, what differentiates them? In Eastern meditation the individual attempts to disconnect or block all stimuli. They seek calm and quiet. They start with physical seclusion, as in a monastery, and then reintroduce themselves into the physical world.
In Middle Eastern the individual actively engages and tries to learn what everything is. They live in the physical world and use it as part of the studies. When studying written text they attempt to find the meaning within everything. That includes the shape of the letters and the shape of the white space around and inside the letter. They look at each word and how that word is used everywhere else in the text, to find the hidden meanings behind the word.
The result is that all thought, through all time and space converge. It is an active method of getting to the same place as the Eastern mystics. They are both looking for the convergence between body, mind and spirit, the convergence of the physical world with thought and time.
Chris and Dave Wattenberg CHTP, SHP/I