From the moment we start going to school, we associate teaching and learning with spoken and written instruction – with words. So when it comes to meditation, we may reasonably hope and expect to learn this also from reading books, attending lectures or listening to podcasts – from words. Yet while words might convey some of the practical details, they can at best be “the finger pointing to the moon”: words can never encompass or convey the experience of the meditation-moon itself, or how to land there.
How then can we start to learn meditation, without words? The same way babies learn to walk. Babies simply ‘absorb’ the secrets of walking by identification with their elder family members – and practice.
Inspiration is the best teacher, for it awakens and reveals our own inherent capacities. An avid student of tennis learns much from watching the world’s best players, consciously and unconsciously assimilating and emulating their mental and psychic mastery of the game, along with their strokes, tactics and court awareness.
Sri Chinmoy writes: “The best way to begin to learn how to meditate is to associate with people who have been meditating for some time. These people are not in a position to teach you, but they are in a position to inspire you. If you have some friends who know how to meditate, just sit beside them while they are meditating. Unconsciously your inner being will be able to derive some meditative power from them. You are not stealing anything from them, but your inner being is taking help from them without your outer knowledge.”
Mixing with spiritual people and sitting with them in meditation, inspires us and stirs our aspiration to bring forward our capacity: we ‘remember’ meditation, and begin to recover our own long-lost, long-forgotten selves.