From the Buddhist point of view, to discover the truth about our mind and our world, we have to start with study and analysis. Buddha said that it is most important, before we accept his teachings, to contemplate their meaning, to analyze them thoroughly and submit them to logical reasoning. Buddha taught how to explore the nature of our suffering until we reach the end of our search, where we find only peace.
We start by looking at the thoughts we have, and the reactions they produce. We look at our feelings, and our reactions to those. We look to see the relationship between our thinking and our emotional reactions. We explore our options. After a while we reach a logical conclusion about what is true and what is false in our perception of ourselves, others, and situations.
After we analyze, we have to meditate. Analysis is important, but through analysis alone we cannot experience the truth. We can really only experience the nature of mind through meditative contemplation. In this kind of meditation we look into the nature of our pain and what causes it. We also examine our happiness and its causes — we take stock of the whole range of our experiences and emotions. By doing this meditative contemplation, we gradually experience the nature of the mind without words, without concepts, and without labels.
We do this meditation in the same way that we might experience a Snickers bar. When we take the first bite, we experience it very directly, but we can’t really describe how it tastes. You could say the Snickers is sweet, but what does that mean? Is it like a spoonful of sugar in your mouth? No. Just the word “sweet” doesn’t do it. You could say it is “milky,” but is it like drinking a glass of milk? Not at all. “Milky” is too vague. Is it like the taste of butter, or cheese, or some other milk product? No, it’s not like that, either. Even if you say, like the ad agency, that it has peanuts and creamy caramel, that still doesn’t say anything about the actual taste of the Snickers. Meditation is like that. When we experience the true taste of meditation, it’s beyond words.