ALAN WATTS: Most of us think compulsively all the time. That is to say we talk to ourselves. I remember when I was a boy; we had a common saying, “talking to you is the first sign of madness.”
Now obviously, if I talk all the time, I don’t hear what anyone else has to say. And so in exactly the same way, if I think all the time, that is to say if I talk to myself all the time, I don’t have anything to think about except thoughts.
And therefore I’m living entirely in the world of symbols, and I’m never in relationship with reality.
Alright, now that’s the first basic reason for meditation. But there is another sense, and this is going to be a little bit more difficult to understand, why we could say that meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. And in this respect, it’s unlike almost all other things that we do except perhaps, making music and dancing.
Because when we make music, we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music, to get to the end of the piece, then obviously the fastest players would be the best.
And so likewise, when we’re dancing, we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as we would be if we were taking a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point. When we play music, the playing itself is the point.
And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. And therefore, if you meditate for an ulterior motive, that is to say, to improve your mind, to improve your character, to be more efficient in life, you’ve got your eye on the future and you are not meditating because the future is a concept.
It doesn’t exist. As the proverb says, “Tomorrow never comes.” There is no such thing as tomorrow there never will be because time is always now. And that’s one of the things we discover when we stop talking to ourselves and stop thinking, we find there is only a present, only an eternal now.
Its funny then, isn’t it that one meditates for no reason at all except we could say for the enjoyment of it. And here I would interpose the essential principle that meditation is supposed to be fun. It’s not something you do as a grim duty. The trouble with religion as we know it is that it is so mixed up with grim duties.
We do it because it’s good for you. It’s a kind of self-punishment. While meditation, when corrected done, has nothing to do with all that. It’s a kind of digging the present. It’s a kind of grooving with the eternal now.
And brings us into a state of peace where we can understand that the point of life, the place where it’s at, is simply here and now.