WHEN NOT FOCUSING on anything in particular, the mind skitters around mindlessly among whatever thoughts happen to present themselves. To think is to direct the mind in a more or less systematic way along a specific sequence of thoughts toward a specific end. To meditate is to open the mind to a single thought until it fills the mind so completely that there is no room left for anything else.
If you compare the mind to a balloon, meditation as a religious technique is the process of inflating it with a single thought to the point where the balloon finally bursts and there is no longer even the thinnest skin between what is inside it and what is outside it. The thinker and the thought become one in much the same way that if you concentrate long enough on watching a fire burn, after a while the distinction between you as the one that is watching and the fire as the one that is being watched disappears, and you yourself burst into flames.
- Originally published in Wishful Thinking