Lesson
2

Correct View and Meditation

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We should not think that meditation is all about discarding views or that all views will restrict us from attaining our spiritual goal. For example, even if we have no intention of becoming a Buddhist but want to practice meditation, this indicates that we already think that our lives are incomplete and that the only way to find any kind of ultimate fulfillment is through something spiritual. This kind of thinking requires a lot of conceptual categories, schemas and various pre-existing beliefs.

In other words, we do not have to transcend all viewpoints to have meditative experiences. What we experience in meditation may be independent from the particular viewpoints that we hold, but those viewpoints can help to steer us toward the appropriate meditative experiences. What we are experiencing in and through meditation has to be made sense of. In order to acquire this understanding, we need to interpret the given experience and this interpretative act requires the appropriate use of conceptual categories, i.e., is it veridical or non-veridical, etc.

It is very important to try to understand meditative experiences by consulting the voluminous historical literature that describes them. We are often told that meditation is about emptying the mind, that it is our discursive thoughts that agitate our minds ensuring that we remain trapped in the world of appearances. However, without making use of any kind of conceptual formulations, we cannot really attempt to have any meditative experiences. We would be unable to discern what sorts of mind-states were conducive or detrimental to meditative experiences.

Some meditative experiences may have the appearance of being genuine but in reality they are false or misleading experiences. These non-genuine experiences can be deceptive, giving us the false conviction of having attained a particular meditative state, when in reality we have simply gone astray or fallen victim to fanciful thinking. To separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and endeavor to find out whether anything genuine has occurred or not, we have to make use of conceptual tools that can steer us in the right direction.