A friend has written to me: What is your advice on becoming a meditation teacher/practitioner?

These days, it is a common question many people ask because they think  that meditation has a big market. It has become a flourishing business  in India and all over the world. And the people who meditate  themselves rarely, are teaching meditation, have designed courses for  a hundred hours, two hundred hours, just like Yoga Alliance training courses. And there are thousands of gullible people who go to them in  Rishikesh or such places, to get trained, and start a business of their own sooner or later elsewhere. There is a huge market for Mindfulness. A simple method of Vipassana taught freely by the Buddha  2600 years ago, in it’s modern scientific, corporate culture and business world is being sold as Mindfulness. Gautama the Buddha may not have imagined it. Happy Ho organizes best Meditation and Tarot classes in Noida and Delhi NCR area in India.

It was reported in April this year: The “mindfulness” market is now  worth well over $1 billion in the United States – its largest market – with more than 1,000 smartphone apps and as many studios and experts creating content and building an audience for its practice all over the world.

So, I wrote to this friend: Becoming a meditation teacher is a desire. And a person who has this desire is not a teacher. You meditate—and one day your meditation matures, like a flower blooms, the fragrance of your mediation spreads naturally. People will who would see you or come near you, will ask you to teach them meditation. Do not make a commercial commodity—it is not. A sincere student or teacher does not treat meditation as something sellable, just like other commodities.

Enlightened mystic Osho reminds us: Your life will remain empty if you  know only things which can be purchased if you know only things which can be sold. Your life will remain utterly futile if your acquaintance is only with commodities. Become acquainted with things that cannot be purchased and cannot be sold, then for the first time you start growing wings, for the first time you start soaring high.

One great king, Bimbisara, reached Mahavira. He had heard that Mahavira had attained dhyana – meditation, samadhi. In Jaina terminology, it is called Samayik – the ultimate state of  prayerfulness or meditation. Bimbisara had everything of this world. He became worried: “What is this Samayik? What is this samadhi?”

He could not rest at ease, because now for the first time he was aware that there was one thing he did not have and he was not a man to remain contented without getting everything that took his fancy. He traveled to the mountains, found Mahavira, and said, “How much do you want for your Samayik? I have come to purchase it. I can give you anything you desire, but give me this Samayik, this samadhi, this meditation. What is this? Where is it? First, let me look at it!”

Mahavira was surprised at the whole stupidity of the king, but he was a very polite man, soft, graceful. He said, “You need not have traveled so far. In your own capital, I have a follower who has attained to the same state, and he is so poor that he may be willing to sell it. I am not willing, because I don’t need any money. You can see I am naked, I don’t need any clothes, I am utterly satisfied. I don’t have any needs, so what will I do with your money? Even if you give me your whole kingdom I am not going to accept it. I had my own kingdom which I have renounced. I had all that you have!” 

And Bimbisara knew that Mahavira had had all and had renounced, so it was difficult to persuade this man to sell. Certainly, money meant nothing to him. So he said, “Okay, who is this man? Give me his address.”

And Mahavira told him, “He is very poor, lives in the poorest part of your city. You may never have visited that part. This is the address, go and ask him. He is your subject, he can sell it to you, and he is in need. He has a wife and children and a big family and is really poor.”

It was a joke. Bimbisara returned happily, went directly to the poor parts of his capital where he had never been. People could not believe their eyes seeing his golden chariot and thousands of soldiers following him. Bimbisara stopped in front of the poor man’s hut. The poor man came, touched the feet of the king, and said, “What can I do? Just order me.”

The king said, “I have come to purchase the thing called samadhi, meditation, and I am ready to pay any price you ask.”

The poor man started crying, tears rolled down his cheeks, and he said, “I am sorry. I can give you my life, I can die for you right now, I can cut off my head, but how can I give you my samadhi? It is not sellable, it is not purchasable, it is not a commodity at all. It is a state of consciousness. Mahavira must have played a joke on you.” 

Then what is the way to go about it? One can learn meditation and pay for it. But this payment need not be for learning or teaching meditation–it can be for food and accommodation and other arrangements done by the organisers. But we should not treat meditation as a commodity to be sold in the market. Then the meditation loses its sacredness–it becomes a technique only, people can go on doing it mechanically.

Meditation is just like love–we share our love, our being, our insights. Once a disciple told his master, “Every day you give profound discourses that transform lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if we compiled these into books and preserved them for future generations? These books will preserve your name for eternity and the money could be utilised to build an ashram and meet our daily expenses.”

The master replied: “Yes, it is a good idea to publish them. But remember that the profoundness and the force that you feel in my discourses is not mine — it is the Divine that is speaking through me. I don’t own these discourses. I am just like a hollow bamboo and the divine song is flowing through me. When a mystic creates, he is only a medium, a hollow bamboo on the lips of God, which becomes a flute. The flute of the infinite is played without ceasing.

And its sound is love: When love renounces all limits, It reaches the truth. How widely the fragrance spreads!