|Bodhidharma practicing Zazen by TsukiokaYoshitoshi (1887)|
A lot of people give up meditating because they don’t experience enlightenment. They are looking for a white light experience, transcendence or at the very least a knowledge which will enable them to better handle reality. Meditation might provide the last of these three alternatives in the way that sleep can often clear the mind when you're stumped on a problem. However, the end result of meditation may be no more than the meditative state. The meditative state becomes a fixture of the imagination, the way muscle memory works for athletes, and its postures, the straightened back, the lowered eyes, the left hand cupped in the right with the two thumbs touching (the mudra of Zen) become the entry into such a state. But what is disconcerting and profoundly difficult about meditation is not the holding of the posture, which may or may not be filled with back or butt ache in the beginning, or even the moratorium on ambulation. It’s what actually devolves from the sitting. In fact sitting is the exact reverse of hallucination or white light experiences. There's an old expression, you can speak to God, but if God speaks to you, you’re a paranoid schizophrenic. Meditation is not for a new generation of sixties love children, whose feet are planted firmly in the sky. It’s not for the faint of heart since it plants your feet firmly in the reality of the present—something which is definitely an acquired taste.