I had a follow up dialogue on Facebook about my previous blog post about effort. Someone asked:
Q: A helpful entry, Nirmala! I thought it insightfully traversed the "razors edge" of effort in regard to meditation. I would, sometime, like to know your thoughts on the importance (or not) of meditation in general. Thanks for sharing!
And I replied:
A: I would suggest that meditation can be helpful, but meditation itself does not cause the deeper shifts of awareness that just happen as a result of divine grace. My sense is that most spiritual practices function to focus our awareness on the here and now. That does not cause anything to happen, but it does mean that when something happens, you are there to notice it.
I recently used the metaphor that sitting on the beach does not cause a tsunami, but it does mean that when a tsunami comes, you are there to be swept away by it. And of course a tsunami might still get you even if you are not near the beach, but the odds are better at the beach.
So meditation and other spiritual practice is like spending time at the beach. It does not cause any big waves of awakening, but it does mean that you are swept up in them when they occur. This puts the practice in perspective. You do not measure a spiritual practice by it's results. You just measure it by whether or not you actually sit and meditate today. If nothing happens today, that is fine. You just come back to the beach again tomorrow.
You can enjoy the sun, sand and sound of the ocean while you are there, but the real purpose is just to be here when the deeper movements of being happen. And this is true of the tsunami like awakenings and also the smaller rogue waves that come and wash away your attachments and suffering a little at a time.