Wednesday, 22 May 2013

My Latest View on Meditation

A month ago I wrote about my thoughts on the function of meditation, now I have come to a completely different understanding.

Now I view meditation as a form of mental exercise.  It's the training of the ability we often don't realize we have, the power of our Will - our free will.  I came to this understanding after reading the Kybalion by Three Initiates, an explanation of the ancient Hermetic teachings.  I have come across many principles mentioned in the book from other sources and teachings, but the Principle of Gender I was not familiar with.  It was especially enlightening for me to read the Chapter on Mental Gender.

I have heard the concept of two parts of the mind before, such as the conscious and subconscious mind.  I also read antidotes about mind observing the mind, such as in lucid dreams where one observe himself dreaming (Richard Feynman wrote about it in one of his books).  But after learning about the "me" and "I" mind -- the creating and directing mind -- from Kybalion, I realized I never quite felt these two entities of mind in myself.  Even though I do hold debates in my mind, I always felt quite together.  I always felt there's just one mind directing my actions.  But now I come to know the two minds concept, I'm more aware of the two minds in action.

This bring me to the new understanding of meditation.  As mentioned in the Kybalion, the "I" mind is so rarely used by many, it's often not used at all.  Instead, most of us just let our "me" mind be influenced by outside sources, like prairie grass swinging with the wind.  Thus meditation -- such as mindful meditation, zazen, etc. practiced by monks and alike -- is an excise of the "I" mind.  "I" mind is the generator of the will, the director.  In meditation the "I" mind wills the "me" mind to stop its usually chaotic ways and just pay attention to the breath instead.  The stronger the "I" mind gets in directing its will to the "me" mind, the longer we will be able to keep our attention on the breath.

This is why the instructor is right in saying that if your mind wonders, simply bring it back -- this is not a failure in meditation, this is part of the meditation.  To be aware of the straying of the attention and bringing the attention back is an exercise of the two minds at work.  The "I" mind noticing that the "me" mind not following its direction, and through will bringing it back to the attention to breath.  Having done this repeatedly is like pumping iron, it will strengthen the "muscle" of "I", exactly what the meditation is supposed to provide.

So as mentioned in the previous post on meditation, where I was not distracted by the outside noise, it simply showed that my "I" mind is strong enough to tell my "me" mind not to pay attention to the noise, and the "me" mind followed the will, while others were not so successful in letting the "I" mind direct the "me" mind.

Now I'm not sure if meditation has the effect of elevating one's vibration at all.  My previous analogy about tuning to the radio signal may be completely wrong (or it still could be correct upon further consideration).  Meditation will help us reach higher vibrations, but not through the act of meditation in itself, but through the strengthening of Will (of the "I" mind).  For once we master the use of our Will, what we desire, e.g. reaching higher vibrations, will come to fruition.

This understanding also makes sense of the cryptic statement from the "Zen Mind, Beginning's Mind" book (haven't found the exact quote): if you meditate to attain enlightenment, you will not get enlightenment; if you want to reach enlightenment, you must meditate.  Meditation is not a path to enlightenment in itself, but it can provide the tools and skill for us to reach enlightenment.  :-)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

How I saved the Hubble

A few years ago, there were serious talks about dumping the Hubble telescope since it's too old and too costly to maintain.  I was not happy to hear the news.  Knowing how valuable the Hubble was to many scientists, I felt especially bad since I knew many people's careers and research depended on it.  So when the then NASA chief Sean O'Keefe came to give the graduation speech at NPS, I decided to used this opportunity to express how I felt.

At the reception afterwards, I went to shake O'Keefe's hand and said to him "please save the Hubble."  He smiled back at me and said "we are working on it."

And... well, I didn't follow closely on what happened later, all I know is that the Hubble is still working today :-).   Later I jokingly said to a friend that as far as I'm concerned, I saved the Hubble.  Now I realized that statement could be more true than I ever imagined.

I liked O'Keefe, I guess that's why I followed his whereabouts even after he left NASA.  So it brought me great shock and sadness when I heard the news that he and his son was nearly killed in a plane crash in 2010.  Now after becoming aware that everything happen for a reason, I'm sure both the dark side and the light side were involved in the incident  -- I'm just not sure which side was responsible for which...