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Biofeedback: A Shortcut to Meditation?




Research suggests that certain states of consciousness brought about by meditation techniques appear to provoke specific brainwave patterns. These states are now being created by electronic and auditory stimulation, and they can be learnt through biofeedback.
The traditional "meditative state" – sitting silently or at least quietly alert – is composed of bilateral, synchronous alpha waves. Deeper meditation also has bilateral theta waves. A state called "lucid awareness" has the bilateral synchronous alpha and theta waves of deep meditation, plus the beta waves of normal thought processes. Lucid awareness can be learnt through biofeedback, using the most modern equipment.
Are these kinds of stimulation and biofeedback useful tools for the meditator?
What is the relationship of these technological methods to the meditation beyond techniques? Is this an example of bringing meditation together with science?
I would like to experiment with these new technologies– both personally in my own meditation and professionally, in my work as a physician. What is your comment?


     It is a very complex question. You will have to understand one of the most fundamental things about meditation – that no technique leads to meditation. The old so-called techniques and the new scientific biofeedback techniques are the same as far as meditation is concerned.
     Meditation is not a byproduct of any technique.
     Meditation happens beyond mind. No technique can go beyond mind. But there is going to be a great misunderstanding in scientific circles, and it has a certain basis. The basis of all misunderstanding is: When the being of a person is in a state of meditation, it creates certain waves in the mind. These waves can be created from the outside by technical means. But those waves will not create meditation – this is the misunderstanding.
     Meditation creates those waves; it is the mind reflecting the inner world. You cannot see what is happening inside. But you can see what is happening in the mind. Now there are sensitive instruments...we can judge what kind of waves are there when a person is asleep, what kinds of waves are there when a person is dreaming, what kinds of waves are there when a person is in meditation. But by creating the waves, you cannot create the situation – because those waves are only symptoms, indicators. It is perfectly good, you can study them. But remember that there is no shortcut to meditation, and no mechanical device can be of any help. In fact, meditation needs no technique – scientific or otherwise.
Meditation is simply an understanding.
     It is not a question of sitting silently, it is not a question of chanting a mantra. It is a question of understanding the subtle workings of the mind. As you understand those workings of the mind a great awareness arises in you which is not of the mind. That awareness arises in your being, in your soul, in your consciousness.


     Mind is only a mechanism, but when that awareness arises it is bound to create a certain energy pattern around it. That energy pattern is noted by the mind. Mind is a very subtle mechanism. You are studying from the outside, so at the most you can study the mind. Seeing that whenever a person is silent, serene, peaceful, a certain wave pattern always, inevitably appears in the mind, the scientific thinking will say: if we can create this wave pattern in the mind, through some biofeedback technology, then the being inside will reach the heights of awareness. This is not going to happen.
     It is not a question of cause and effect. These waves in the mind are not the cause of meditation; they are, on the contrary, the effect. But from the effect you cannot move towards the cause. It is possible that by biofeedback you can create certain patterns in the mind and they will give a feeling of peace, silence and serenity to the person. Because the person himself does not know what meditation is and has no way of comparing, he may be misled into believing that this is meditation – but it is not. Because the moment the biofeedback mechanism stops, the waves disappear, and the silence and the peace and the serenity also disappear.
You may go on practicing with those scientific instruments for years; it will not change your character, it will not change your morality, it will not change your individuality. You will remain the same.

     Meditation transforms. It takes you to higher levels of consciousness and changes your whole lifestyle. It changes your reactions into responses to such an extent that it is unbelievable that the person who would have reacted in the same situation in anger is now acting in deep compassion, with love – in the same situation.
     Meditation is a state of being, arrived at through understanding.
     It needs intelligence, it does not need techniques.
There is no technique that can give you intelligence.
Otherwise, we would have changed all the idiots into geniuses; all the mediocre people would have become Albert Einsteins, Bertrand Russells, Jean-Paul Sartres. There is no way to change your intelligence from the outside, to sharpen it, to make it more penetrating, to give it more insight. It is simply a question of understanding, and nobody else can do it for you– no machine, no man.
     Certainly by repeating a mantra continuously, you create the energy field of a certain wavelength; but the man remains the same, because it is only on the surface.
     Just as if you have throw a pebble into the silent lake and ripples arise and move all over the lake from one corner to the other corner, but it does not touch the depths of the lake at all. The depths are completely unaware of what is happening on the surface. And what you see on the surface is also illusory. You think that ripples are moving; that's not true. Nothing is moving.

     A man who knows what meditation is cannot be deceived by any techniques, because no technique can give you understanding of the workings of the mind.
     If you want the real, you will have to go through a deep inner search, a profound understanding of your mind, an awareness of all the cunning ways of the mind so that the mind can be put aside. Then the mind is no longer between you and existence, and the doors are open.
     Meditation is the ultimate experience of blissfulness. It cannot be produced by drugs, it cannot be produced by machines, it cannot be produced from the outside.

Osho Beyond Enlightenment

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