After having completed my book, Meditation as a Way of Life: Philosophy & Practice (Quest: 2014), I was asked by Pear Design, a branding and marketing firm in Chicago, to address why I’d written this book. They have an interest in the spirit motivating activities in addition to the activities themselves. Here is my response:
I continually heed an inner calling to teach meditation and writing is an excellent platform for doing so. Not that I’m an extraordinary writer or exceptional meditation practitioner but, rather, because both teaching and writing help clarify thought, deepen understanding, and refine skill. So on a very personal level, I grow by doing. More importantly, however, is the subject of my work and the source from which it’s derived.
Meditation has garnered significant respect and acceptance in the West, particularly with the advent of medical experimentation and scanning devices that can authenticate long-touted mind/body/social benefits. Yet much of this attention is still confined to a quasi-sterile atmosphere of scientific scrutiny or is segmented into calming and centering practices that, quite simply, don’t cover the depth of spiritual purpose and potential for which meditation is intended. Life is more than the pursuit of material pleasure. It is, and always has been, a proving ground for spiritual awakening. And meditation is the most effective means to achieve this end.
Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, came to America in 1920 and spent the next 32 years laboring to uplift public understanding of what meditation is and why it is of such significant value. The gist of these efforts resulted in providing scientifically sound, clearly articulated spiritual theory and technologies that facilitate direct realization of our divine nature and, by so doing, help us to achieve greatest life satisfaction and success. While that sounds grand, I still wanted to do more than parrot the insights of others.
I sought to depict meditative substance and my own 30+ years experience with it as one who is neither a saint nor an exalted adept but, instead, an ordinary, albeit dedicated, person who pursued the path, practices, and promises of a renowned spiritual master. Why? – To attest to its efficacy and worth if I found it valid. And I did. I’ve sampled the ‘goods’ and can vouch for them. Recognizing that people sometimes find it easier to relate to the testimony of a B student – me – than that of a straight-A level spiritual master such as Yogananda, I felt my contribution might culminate in one simple yet important distilled truth; that no one need be perfect to begin the process of meditation, but, all will be happier if they do. It is a practice worth developing and a way of life that yields greatest all-round life fulfillment.