How Einstein Did It: Idea to Discovery

These two capacities—to analyze and to remain focused— are essential to seeing yourself as you really are. –His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “How to See Yourself as You Really Are”

Einstein is often quoted when it comes to analytical meditation because this type of concentration is believed to have led to his theory of relativity and other discoveries. Inquiry meditation has the potentiality of transforming our minds and lives in truly profound and lasting ways. This is a core practice of a meaning maker as it helps us discover truth and meaning for ourself while still borrowing from the wisdom of ancient and contemporary teachers.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama often writes about and advocates for analytic meditation. What he calls analytic meditation I refer to as inquiry meditation. “In analytic meditation, one brings about inner change through systematic investigation and analysis. In this way we can properly use our human intelligence, our capacity for reason and analysis, to contribute to our happiness and satisfaction.” Dalai Lama, Stages of Meditation. This may sound complicated—all this analysis, which is the reason I call it inquiry meditation or practice. It is a way to explore ideas and to make discoveries. This type of meditation not only brings illumination to spiritual truths but also can unlock the doors to creative and scientific truths.

Gain as much explanation and teaching as possible then go cultivate the wisdom mind through analytical meditation. –Geshe Tenzin Dorje, Deer Park

Through such investigation, analytical meditation allows us to “search for meaning” while we are making meaning. While you ask and investigate, what does this mean? you are making your own meaning. You are pulling together all the wisdom teachings and experiences you’ve had so far into something useful, creative, and meaningful. Most importantly, through this personal investigation you then hold a dynamic conversation with some valuable concept or practice. Whenever you come up with meaning for yourself, there is a much deeper appreciation and understanding than if someone else came up with it for you, or if you unquestioningly accepted someone else’s version. This profound practice gives us personal insights, discoveries and realizations.

The Basics of Inquiry Meditation

We must be able to relate to what we are conducting inquiry around. If, for example, I believe that everything is impermanent, how is this so? What does this mean?

Such analytical meditation makes meaning by engaging the mind with a particular concept. The meditation may take one of many forms. It could be a simple question regarding day-to-day affairs like, what would it mean to apply forgiveness to this problem that faces me? Or, it could concern itself with a profound metaphysical or scientific query. Or, it may simply involve silent deliberation on a principle such as, “love your neighbor as yourself.” You can use it in creative pursuits as well to explore the meaning of your creative choices, or. to help make a choice.

Use this analytical practice, as Einstein did, to open up to other possibilities in your creative, scientific, or vocational pursuits. Ask yourself in meditation: What do I mean by . . . or what is meant by . . . My understanding is that Einstein started with the topic of gravity in his analytical meditation and arrived at the theory of relativity and interdependence of life. You can start with any topic and see where it leads you.

  • Give yourself at least fifteen minutes in a quiet place. Take a few minutes to sit in calm abiding by resting your awareness in the breath and the body sitting.
  • Then drop the particular question in your consciousness—for example: What is the meaning of dependent co-arising, or what does it mean to be generous, or to live the zero point agreement? What is meant by. . .?
  • Keep your focus on this inquiry and investigate this topic. Hold your mind to this one topic of meditation without wavering.
  • Imagine looking at the focus of your inquiry from many angles. Any time your attention may wander, bring it back to the point of inquiry. You can bring to mind times this concept has arisen in your life. Only do not “hang out” with the memory but flash on it as part of the inquiry. Allow for all your experiences and knowledge to come up around this topic.
  • You can ask more questions, as well as bring in what you have come to understand about this particular quality. If you are investigating some spiritual or philosophical concept, you may ask: What does it mean to me to accept this idea as mine?
  • Attempt to arrive at a certain feeling state, an emotional or energetic state of understanding, as you connect more with the meaning of this concept. Breathe naturally and investigate the topic as thoroughly, yet spaciously, as you can.
You will find more on such practices in: The Zero Point Agreement: How to Be Who You Already Are) 
Use Lyrics and music to explore ideas and to open up to what is truly possible! Join us for the Claudia Schmidt concert at the General Store & Cafe in Spring Green Wisconsin on the evening of December 6th.

 

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