In meditation it is assumed that what is perceived as the physical body (rupa) is absent of the percipient (= the meditator). Equally the same, the percipient lacks any physical characteristics (rupa). Nevertheless, during meditation there is a tension going on between the body and the meditator because of a lack of wisdom (prajñâ) that can distinguish the physical from the immaterial.
More fundamental, the meditator has to realize that they are absent of the entire Five Aggregates (skandha) as laid out by the Buddha in the Pali Nikayas. The distinction between the two, which is not a spatial separation, is absolute, i.e., non-dual. Consequently, there is nothing in the percipient, as the meditator, that is physical, sensible, conceivable, experiential or witnessable (as something determinate). The percipient is, in a word, independent—never contingent, in the sense of being liable to change. It is only the pentadic aggregates to which he is attached that change, suffer, and lack actuality. The aggregates and the world present to us are really maya or illusion.
Paradoxically, while one may nod their head in agreement with the aforementioned it must be borne in mind that meditation remains extremely difficult. As earlier noted, there is an ongoing tension between the percipient’s body and the percipient which is spiritually agonizing; lacking wisdom.
By far, meditation is, in some respects, a corrective process which actually has to undo the previous pattern of desires on the part of mind to invest itself, continually, in the physical body, as it were, to establish itself there and become a hapless subject of its rise and fall. The meditator can be likened to a movie goer who is entranced with a spectacular movie where disengaging from the movie is the meditation practice. Thus, depending on the strength of mind’s absorption with the physical body, or the same, the Five Aggregates, does meditation become relatively easy or almost impossible. This is why in some of the Buddha’s discourses the meditator is told to go to an empty place to begin their meditation since it is free of external attractions.
Desire for worldly things and states of consciousness work against meditation. Such desire only reinforces the connection between the meditator and the physical body. Against the fruits of meditation, the worldly ethos aims at an unwholesome coupling between the percipient and the aggregates (skandhas) which, as a result, leads to more spiritual agony. This ethos soon becomes a vicious circle. The percipient believes that a deeper bond with the physical body is the sure remedy for suffering in which materialism is the tool. The more wealth the better, in other words.
That meditation is becoming popular in the West signals a backlash against the worldly ethos. Indeed, there is no real freedom in becoming deeply absorbed with what is subject to becoming using materialism as a tool. We suffer because we are too closely united to matter allowing ourselves to sympathize with the Five Aggregates. It is only by means of meditation that we can free ourselves, remembering our true origin which has no need of a physical body or attaching to external possessions.