Q: Earlier, you mentioned about meditation with one-pointedness (Ekagrata). Does it mean sitting alone and thinking about a single thing or can Action ‘Pravriti’ become a one-pointed meditation?
Sri M: Action, if done with single-pointed attention, becomes one-pointed meditation. But, usually, it is not done like this. It’s usually not possible; it is difficult.
The founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma – he was from Thanjavur, in South India. It is him who took Buddhist teachings to China. There is a branch of Buddhism where meditation is given more importance. In China, it was promoted as ‘Dhyana Buddhism’. In Chinese, since they cannot say Dhyan, it became Chan. When this Chan went to Japan, it became ‘Zen’.
This Zen master was living on a cliff in China. One day, three youngsters came searching for him, after a lot of roaming. Tired and hungry, it was lunchtime when they reached and the Master was having soup. They told him that they had come to learn Zen. In Zen, the highest experience we call ‘Moksha’, is referred to as ‘Satori’. They expressed their wish to experience ‘Satori’. The Master told them that he is having his soup. So, they kept quiet for a while. Then again, they asked for ‘Satori’ and they got the same answer. When they asked a third time, then the Master called his attendant and told him to give them some soup. So, all of them had a bowl, a spoon and some soup. When they started to have it, they felt how foolish they are. They had come in search of Satori and now they were having soup.
So they asked again, and the Zen Master said he is having his soup. Then, they felt angry and said, ‘We are also having soup, is it not?’ The Master said, “This is the problem. I am having my soup. I am having my soup is Zen. You are having your soup but thinking about Zen. This is not Zen.”
So, you ask about one-pointedness. To get one-pointedness, along with action, it must be a work that we are interested in. It won’t come when forced. If we are thus engaged in action, it is a Meditation. It is Dhyana; it is one-pointedness. But this state may not be sustained always.
For that, we can take some examples from different areas. Say, an artist, with complete inspiration, is painting. There won’t be any other thought; it is a form of Dhyana. When a poet writes poetry, his complete attention is in writing. This is Dhyana. When a river is flowing and we are looking at it without any other thought, it is Dhyana. This is a natural system of meditation.
However, when you are in office – amidst all sorts of distractions – and you still want to experience one-pointedness, then there are techniques. The technique is to couple the mind with some action. So, we connect it with the action of breath. The mind cannot be without any action. It is like vacuum. We cannot maintain vacuum, as air will immediately rush into it. Similarly, we cannot sit without any thought. Instead of focusing on thoughts from the outside, we substitute it with the thought of breath. In order to do this, when we inhale and exhale, we give full attention to breath. So, the mind gets fully engaged but without thoughts from the outside. If this process is done for a while, the mind begins to cool down slowly, even though not fully. This is the beginning of Dhyana.