Monday, December 19, 2011


The idea that a meditation practice is a series of experiments seems to be in keeping with the teachings of the Buddha. I have heard that the Buddha suggested that direct experience is the best teacher. The Buddha is reputed to have encouraged his students to test his and anybody else’s teachings out through experimentation. The Buddha said shortly before his death when asked by a seeker how to tell the authentic from the false:

“Do not accept any of my words on faith,
Believing them just because I said them.
Be like an analyst buying gold, who cuts, burns,
And critically examines his product for authenticity.
Only accept what passes the test
By proving useful and beneficial in your life.”

Each meditation session is an experiment. Each session is a different experiment because the subject of the experiment changes from day to day. Exploration is the basic theme of the experience. An experiment is a marriage between freedom and structure. An experimenter opens up to what he encounters but approaches things in an orderly and logical manner. My approach to meditation was to start at the beginning, like a scientist, letting the data speak for itself. It was my intention to avoid becoming attached to preconceived notions about outcomes. This, it would seem, is in keeping with the basic spirit of the idea of mindfulness or awareness as a metacognitive skill. Metacognitive means to think about thinking e.g. to use the mind to examine the mind. Each session was treated as a unique experiment in which a moment of direct experience was subjected to close examination. As a meditator, I became an observer of my own thinking, sensing, feeling system.

What follows is a summary of the results of my meditation experiment. Since it is an on-going experiment, these results are by definition incomplete. It would be best to see this summary in the same way you might see a description of what various items on a menu taste like. To really taste the items, you need to eat. To really know what it is like to meditate, you need to practice. Everything that follows is a direct result of looking closely at my own thinking, sensing, feeling system in order to discover how it works. I offer up here the most basic observations about insights I have personally experienced.

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