What does meditation do for us?


Someone recently told me to think about what I am a tool for?

I have not answered the question. But it has made me think about what people do for one another and what things or practices we do for ourselves. Everything does something for us, and we have a reason for everything we do (even it is a bad reason, like habit).

I was participating in a vipassana meditation with a group of thinkers. Afterward we talked about what we felt etc, and one of the thinkers said that he could not help but have ideas during the meditation….

This made me think about the purpose of meditation – what does meditation do?

People in my group were talking about thinking more clearly ore removing cognitive bias. These are all great and I agree with them.

But is knowledge, is thinking, the that the only way to understand something?

An example I hear again and again is that of plants and plant lore. Ancient peoples did not engage in the scientific method in order to decide which plants cured which diseases.  So, how did they discover these properties?

I have no idea. Some people say the plants themselves spoke. What is important here is that there are ways to understanding beyond our normal cognitive mode of apprehension. How do we get there?  

My feeling is through meditation. Meditation lets us access other methods of understanding, methods that are subjective and private not public like science. These modes of understanding perhaps cannot be codified as knowledge in our society, or at least scientific knowledge. Since they are subjective they cannot be falsified. But if these subjective experiences provide other ways towards rich human experience why should they be denied.

I recently finished the listening society by hanzi freinacht, which outlines many different ways that inner life matters, how meditation contributes to the cultivation of inner life, and how this interacts with what we would call scientific knowledge. This is multilayered and I could talk about it in another post. 

But for now – is thinking the only path towards knowing? And if there are many paths what are they?