I do not subscribe to any particular religion or philosophy. I also am not convinced of the supernatural or any gods. I’m an atheist who is exploring the mind and this thing we call “existence”.
“How is it, Venerable Gautama; does the self exist?”
The Buddha remained silent.
“Then how is it, Venerable Gautama; does the self not exist?”
The Buddha again remained silent.
The wanderer Vacchagotta got up from his seat and went away.
The Buddha turned to his attendant Ananda and said:
“If I had answered, ‘the self exists,” that would encourage eternalism… and if I had answered, ‘the self does not exist,’ that would have encouraged nihilism.”
The point being made here is to resist following any extreme view. Instead we should follow the “middle path”. Is there an eternal soul or are we just beings who exist for a brief period of time and then vanish from existence? The Buddha refused to address the question because it would cause a follower to take an extreme path, eternity or nihilism.
The past does not exist and the future does not exist. All that exists is this present moment in time. Everything else is an illusion formed in a mind that is lingering on the past or worrying about the future.
The goal is not to follow anything. The goal is to simply be without clinging to anything.
What is Meditation?
In short, meditation is the act of focusing on the present moment and experiencing the present moment without judgment or trying to classify and quantify the experience of the present moment. You are an observer who is observing the present moment.
You are not your sensations. You are not your thoughts. You are the observer who is observing what the mind and body are experiencing.
Below is a Zen Buddhist who is using a Shakuhachi flute to meditate.
The player of the flute is meditating by focusing on each note with all of its subtlety.