A couple of weeks ago, Bhante asked this question of the Sangha after meditation. I did not answer, but listened to others respond. There were a variety of responses that were very interesting. I have not let this question go from my mind, because I think it is an important one.
A dear friend who introduced me to Buddhism, once described meditation to me like this. She said your mind is like a glass of muddy water, and meditation lets all that mud settle to the bottom of the glass so you can see clearly. I think that was a great description for me at that time. It gave me the concept of letting my mind settle down so I could have clarity.
But today, I see it as a much bigger question. Now I see meditation as an integral part of of Bhavana. Bhavana was explained to me as three parts. Virtue, Meditation, and Wisdom. All three of those pieces are totally connected. Virtue is my intention in all things I do, while Meditation is time to connect with my self and all beings. Wisdom is what I can gain from the right view of my virtue and meditation.
Now today I found out that my new meditation cushion I ordered has arrived. I got so excited! Then, mindfulness kicked in. Oh no, I thought! This cushion will not make my meditation better, or give me acceleration to enlightenment. And then there is the money I spent on the cushion! Was that not money that could have benefited others? Well, lesson learned. This mindfulness thing is harder than it looks! ;-)
So, why do I sit on this cushion? Because I have so much more to learn and to see. And I sure will be mindful of my nice new cushion!