The mind is a curious thing. Oddly enough, it seeks security in such silly concepts as the past. But what if the mind learned not to do that? What if the mind trained itself not to seek security in the past and only focused on what was happening in the present? What would happen then?

That, of course would take an immensely courageous mind, more daring than going to war, or to fight for what we think is right. Focusing on the present would involve a mind that is free of the past, free of all concepts of what our world is or shoulAd be, free of all the images that we have concocted in our minds - images of ourselves, of the ones around us, of our world, and of our universe. This would be a mind that sees the reality of what we are, and what the reality of this very moment is. This is a mind that would see truth.

All of this undeniably sounds quite abstract, quite distant from anything intelligible, significant, or vital, while many are only steps away from tragedy every moment, and never realize it. We think that this unaware way of life is normal, intelligent, common sense, yet lives have become so terrible for so many people all over the world, lives that are only sorrow every moment, and we rationalize that this is acceptable and normal.

Those who control these people, who have power over them, have minds trapped in the past, trapped in the future, minds that cannot get out from under the oppression of images and concepts, mired in endless thought and emotion, ambition and the fear that creates ambition, and never free to see that which is beyond experience.

The usual response to all of this is, "Impossible! You are dreaming! Not practical or realistic. Give us something to believe in." And so, many never try to even look at their minds, as if their minds are an omniscient spirit apart from "them," something untouchable. Yet the reality is that their minds are nothing but inconsistency. There is no stability, no calmness, no clarity, only past images in which to hide that becomes their security, but that kind of security is not secure at all; that security is the essence of fear.

What is true freedom? What is the true freedom whispered about by the sages? It is a mind free of images and free of the past. A mind that is free is a mind that knows no boundaries, an unlimited mind that can see eternity. This is the end of violence. This is the beginning of peace; not peace as a concept, or a peace to fight for, but a peace that transcends fighting and striving; a peace that knows no limits with a limitless mind that knows no conflict.

So we meditate to quiet our minds, to end the obsession with our pasts and futures. We meditate to be in the present. But try as we will, meditation cannot always change our fearful minds. It's only when we stop trying to meditate, and simply observe what is happening in each moment of time (which is usually our simple breath), without the accumulation and encumbrance of our past and future, that we begin to see with different eyes.

So, "Why do I meditate?" In a way, I never meditate. Or, maybe I'm always meditating. I simply try to know, internally, what is happening moment to moment.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, His twenty-nine years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit