Welcome to my Blog

Monday, December 14, 2015

Question About Meditation


From the bottom of my Heart, I thank you for writing this book. I am an artist and also have a keen interest in yoga and meditation; from that standpoint could you please explain or elaborate just a little about Johann Wolfgang Goethe's quote at the top of page 8 regarding meditation and mental disease. 




This is the passage to which your question refers:


 “If the self does not choose to direct the mind, the mind may bury the self in all sorts of varieties of negative thinking and mood disorders. In the absence of any conscious direction by the self, the mind can direct itself right into mental illness.

Goethe was clearly referring to this same idea when he wrote, “Where a man has a passion for meditation without the capacity for thinking, a particular idea fixes itself fast, and soon creates a mental disease.” Yes, depression is strong and painful, and we can get very focused on it when we get into that downward spiral. But we don’t have to. We can cure our easy habitual reaction to depression, which is to succumb to it, and, as an act of will, regain our lost equanimity.

That is because we can improve the mind with education and practice. We don’t improve the self. Rather, we more or less uncover the self, or don’t uncover the self; use the self, or don’t use it. Human beings don’t just know something, we also know that we know it.  What we know (mind) may change as to improvement, but the awareness that we know (self) is not a matter of improvement or gradation, it is a matter of “either/or;” it is a matter of “asleep to it or awake to it.”


Another way of referring to the self is to think of it as “self awareness”,as being awake to yourself and what thoughts (including meditations) are bouncing around in your mind.

The point of this passage is that meditation should be done by the “self” not the mind. In a way, depression is a meditation that the mind does and the person erroneously thinks that the depressive thought pattern is somehow their reality, that it is their self that is suffering. Which isn’t true because your “self” can actually meditate on your depression without suffering at all.

But if your “self” is not meditating on your depression, and it is just your mind meditating on your depression, your depression can become a “disorder” instead of a momentary and habitual thought pattern of downer thoughts that triggers automatically due to the accidental triggering of the fight-or-flight response (fear.)

 Referring to Goethe’s quote: In just such a way a person can think that what they are meditating on is reality. Meditation done properly is done by the “self” observing what the mind is meditating on. Goethe is referring to the meditation done by the mind and not properly observed by the “self.”

If this explanation isn’t working for you, you can ask more questions and I will try again.


A. B. Curtiss



No comments: