“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.”–Voltaire
I have often wondered about the types of meditation Voltaire may have practiced. His insights about human awareness and consciousness hint that he more than dabbled in contemplation and meditation. Awareness, consciousness, and mindfulness were not strange concepts to him.
Regular practitioners of meditation understand that there is a profound sanctuary and stillness within that allows us to retreat to and recapture ourselves. The calm peacefulness and mental silence cause the practitioner to fully appreciate life in all of its forms and allow love to blossom within the heart.
As for techniques, there is a world of variations regarding practices of clearing the mind. Many North and South American Native cultures have developed their unique practices. Oceania has been often overlooked regarding contemplative traditions. Africa is rich with ancient meditative, spiritual culture. The Middle East and Europe have their own flavors of pagan and Abrahamic techiques. I am personally influenced by Buddhist philosphy from South and East Asia.
Regardless of any particular belief system or school of thought, theistic or atheistic, meditation can reveal a radiant mental quality that opens one up to allow wisdom a chance to breathe. At the very least, meditation opens the mind to life and sensitivity. Life becomes simpler yet richer. When Socrates advised, “Know Thyself”, He might have had meditation in mind. Socrates understood that knowing oneself includes recognizing the limits of our own knowledge and wisdom–distinguishing what we know from what we believe we know–then knowing what one needs to learn. Honestly understanding what one needs to learn and unlearn come about through contemplation and meditation.
Contemplation and meditation help the practioner to observe one’s own thoughts, rationalizations, engrained ideologies, ideas, and errors. Meditation enables better internal dialogue with oneself and external interaction with other living beings.
As one becomes habituated with meditation, we realize that all is not rainbows and unicorns. Many people find it difficult to sit silently without relying upon technological crutches or mental wandering into phantasmagorical fantasies. We soon stumble upon uncomfortable personal and existential truths about ourselves. However, with honesty as a tool, we learn what will lead us forward and what will hold us back from becoming the best versions of ourselves.
Wisdom teachers from ancient times and in contemporary society teach that meditation is vital in the process of discovery. It is the primary secret of inner and outer growth in knowledge, life, and wisdom.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the late Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. “Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness we know what to do and what not to do to help.”