According to the Oracle at Delphi, Socrates was the “wisest man in Athens”. As for what made Socrates so “wise”, he summed up the DNA of his wisdom by revealing the essence of the Socratic method:
The beginning of wisdom
As a yogi, I’m almost daily posed the question, “What’s the true meaning of meditation?” Without blinking, I whip out the Socratic method and generally respond as follows: “Well, first, what does meditation mean to you?” Usually, after a moment’s pause, the questioner follows up with: “Hmmm, let’s see. I think—“
“Wait a sec!” I’ll blurt out. “You just said, if I heard you correctly, that ‘I + think’.” My odd response is usually followed by a blank expression, which suggests I need to fill in the blank. And so, as I usually tell my fellow questioners, which I’ll now tell you, “Every such case in which the subjective pronouns ‘I’ or ‘my’ precedes an object, such as ‘I think’ or ‘MY feelings’, therein lies the true nature of meditation revealed in the pairing of the subject with the object.”
The only possible form of meditation
Whenever referring to YOUR mind or YOUR body, notice you relate to it as a possession. Right? Excellent! Now, picture a friend opening the car door for you. Now, what if the friend were to say, “Hey, that blackish paint job on you sure looks pretty! And oh, those legs for tires of yours—” Wouldn’t you agree that such an attempt to falsely identify you with your possession reeks of non-sense? And so, does it not equally follow that non-sense abounds whenever you identify Being, your true nature with your mind or your body, both of which are your possessions? Take a quick glance down at your hands or stare into a mirror. Go ahead and notice that bag of skin made of flesh and bones can’t possibly be your real Self आत्मा.
Don’t believe me?
Close your eyes, the ‘windows’ to your soul.
That bag of flesh and bones glimpsed outside those orbital windows have at once disappeared. Yet you, the Soul, the Self that peeks through those windows, remain. And so, while the outside world disappears with the shutting of eyelids, the world inside remains.
In this inner world: YOU are the lone resident!
And now, without further ado, here lies the only true meditation there was, is, or will ever be. This habitual meditative practice I call simply: RESIDE in the ATTENDANT:
Step 1: Find a quiet place
Now, once comfortably seated, close your eyes. With your bodily eyes shut and your mental eye opened, choose a one-word mantra to recite.
Step 2: Choose whatever word you like: love, faith, peace
Now, repeat that one-word-mantra 10 times, both with your inner-voice and inner-sight. In other words, picture the word each time coupled with sub-vocalizing it. For example, “Love, Love, Love.” In the course of your repetition, the monkey mind is sure to swing your attention to various thoughts — of past and future. No problemo! Just gently guide your attention back to the exercise.
Final step: Keep repeating the mantra
Do it until you successfully reach the count of 10. For maximum results, it’s crucial you don’t skip this step.
But are you sure you were actually successful in carrying out the exercise?
How would you know?
Wasn’t your mind and attention fixated on repeating the mantra? The mind, after all, as psychologists note: is incapable of entertaining more than ONE thought at a time. And so, well, if your mind was preoccupied, then how would YOU know about your involvement in the exercise?
Who or What was watching the mantra flash across your mental screen?
Who or What heard the mantra repeated in your third ear?
Who or What was the silent witness?
Please, if you don’t mind, explain to me how YOU could’ve been simultaneously playing on the court and watching the mantra-game? Unless, dare I say, you’re suggesting while your mind was separately busy shooting your thoughts back and forth—YOU, on the other hand, were simply the WATCHER?
Say it ain’t so?
You are the silent witness
Here lies the answer to the true riddle of the Sphinx, my friend.
You are not what you notice but rather you are the noticer of what you notice. Hence such expressions as “watch your mouth” or “watch your thoughts.”
YOU are the Silent Witness before which all such happenings on the world’s stage occur.
YOU—the Soul—are the The Attendant to which the faculty of attention is attributed.
After all, attention simply means “to attend,” and all such attending presupposes an attendant. That thou art.
Reminisce over every experience of your life and—tada!—YOU, The Attendant or Self or Soul, are always PREsent! (Note: the root meaning of the word present is in fact pre + sent to experience.)
It is the attention faculty, then, which serves as the key to unlocking The Attendant (Soul, Self, आत्मा, etc.).
Think back to your elementary days when the teacher did “roll call.” The teacher paced the aisles and called out names. And what does each student answer?
In short, throughout the day, make it a habit of bringing your attention back to its root, aka Reside in the Attendant. When that monkey mind gets to swinging on vines made of anxiety and fear (False Evidence Appearing Real), resort back to Residing in the Attendant.
Meditation is just a fancy word for residing in The Attendant, aka pure being. Reside in the Attendant! Here lies your refuge whenever confronted by life’s storms.
Whenever you feel doubt and worry creeping back into your consciousness—to again ensnare The Attendant—whisper to yourself: “Hey, stay HERE and NOW!”
Each time you feel the onset of trouble or annoyance, relax! Pause the flow of life’s events with the mantra—“Hey, stay HERE and NOW!”
Here lies the best meditation for beginners. After all, this meditation ultimately proves to be the only meditation. “Hey, stay HERE and NOW!”
The Bhagavad Gita best sums up the Secret of the Ages:
A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping, and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.