I have heard meditation sometimes described as a science, and other times as an art; on occasion you have even called it a knack. Please explain.
Meditation is such a mystery that it can be called a science, an art, a knack, without any contradiction.
From one point of view it is a science because there is a clear-cut technique that has to be done. There are no exceptions to it; it is almost like a scientific law.
But from a different point of view it can also be said to be an art. Science is an extension of the mind – it is mathematics, it is logic, it is rational. Meditation belongs to the heart, not to the mind – it is not logic; it is closer to love. It is not like other scientific activities, but more like music, poetry, painting, dancing; hence, it can be called an art.
But meditation is such a great mystery that calling it ‘science’ and ‘art’ does not exhaust it.
It is a knack – either you get it or you don’t get it. A knack is not a science, it cannot be taught. A knack is not an art. A knack is the most mysterious thing in human understanding. […]
That’s why for thousands of years people have been meditating, teaching, but very few people have achieved heights in meditation, and very few people have even tried. And the vast majority of humanity has not even bothered to think about it. It is something … a seed you are born with.
If you don’t have the seed, a master can go on showering all his bliss on you, still nothing will happen in you. And if the seed is there, just the presence of the master, just the way he looks into your eyes, and something of tremendous importance happens in you – a revolution that you cannot explain to anybody.
It is one of the difficulties for all meditators that they cannot explain to their friends, their families, what they are doing. Because the majority of humanity is not interested in it at all. And those who are not interested in it at all simply think about people who are interested, that something is loose in their heads, something is wrong.
Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself – but in the first place, why should you bother about the grass? Basho’s beautiful haiku will look absurd to them. Grass is going to grow by itself whether you sit silently or not, why waste your time? – Grass is going to grow by itself. Let the spring come – spring comes by itself, grass grows by itself. Why are you wasting your time? – do something else meanwhile.
If a man has not something in his heart already – a small seed – then it is impossible for him.
He can learn the technique, he can learn the art. But if the knack is missing he is not going to succeed.
So thousands of people start meditation, but very few – so few that they can be counted on ten fingers – ever achieve to enlightenment. And unless meditation becomes enlightenment, you have simply wasted your time.
Excerpted from Sermons in Stones, Discourse #4
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