Each of us, in our own way, is seeking liberation. We want to experience the rapture of reality. We have been taught to pursue this through addition, not subtraction. We think we need to add happiness, prosperity, love, success. However much we add to ourselves, however much we achieve or experience or possess, still we are not whole, and we know it. We can never experience the rapture of reality through addition, because what we want to enhance - our separate self - is that single condition which keeps the rapture of reality away. We only experience the heart-piercing light of reality through subtraction, when "we" disappear, when we empty ourselves of everything, including "us." In this ending of ourself, there is silence. There is love. If "we" do the seeking, if we try to experience the rapture of reality, we will fail. We are in the way. One's own separate self is the barrier to love. One's own separate self is the disappointment, the sadness, that is at the end of each rainbow of hope. We can't do anything about it, because if we do, we will only strengthen an image of "me."
We can only see that the separate self is a facade. When we see through the facade of the separate self, it collapses; it has no support. Meditation is the eye that can see this. Meditation opens the window to the rapture of reality.
At first, meditation is a practice that teaches us to focus our attention on a single point, perhaps the breath or a mantra or the space between two thoughts. As we focus, we are amazed to discover how many thoughts we have. One begins to see that the mind is nothing but thoughts about things and thoughts about thoughts, and thoughts about thoughts about thoughts. In meditation, we can see directly the chaos of the mind as it races without order or purpose from one thing to the next, careening from the past to the future while barely touching the present moment. We also see that all of these thoughts are self-centered; everything we think about, our whole internal experience, is qualified by this central thought, this image of "me."
As we continue to focus the mind on the object of meditation, we begin to observe the stream of thoughts and emotions without getting lost in them. We see that thoughts and emotions arise in numberless waves within the mind. That which observes the play of thoughts is not the mind, but the awareness from which the mind itself is born. We can see that this awareness is qualitatively different than thinking. It has a depth and silence to it. It is not tied to an image of "me." Awareness refers to itself.
We begin to perceive the world, not through our patterns of thinking, but through this awareness, whose integrity is never compromised by thinking. We begin to perceive in silence, without thoughts and images and symbols. Reality is not represented, but emerges directly and immediately in its pristine state. We see thoughts and images arising and subsiding in a vastness about which nothing can be said or known. Our own self-image, our sense of "me," becomes transparent. Suddenly there are no hands to hold anything, no firm ground to stand upon, no "me" to know and worry about.
Meditation opens the window to silence, and in this silence is love. This love dissolves the anxiety of self-centeredness, because the separate self has merged into silence, into love, into the sky of pure awareness. In this awareness, the true Self is liberated from conditions. Rumi tells us that "reality is a rapture that takes you out of form. You are the unconditioned spirit trapped in conditions."