By Vinay & Lidija (Samadhi)
It’s important at this point to clear a common misconception about meditation. A common belief nowadays in various spiritual circles is that meditation can lead to enlightenment. People spend years and years meditating of hours a day, and end up being frustrated.
According to Vedanta, meditation will not give you Moksha. Meditation is a tool to aid Self-Inquiry or Jnana Yoga, but it does not equal Self-Inquiry. Unless one has realised that one is not the meditator but the one who knows the meditator.
Meditation can keep one stuck for years trying to have an experience of the Self, which many meditators do have, but the problem is the identification with the experiencer/meditator is still there. Unless the knowledge that meditation is designed to impart is fully assimilated – i.e. “I am the Self” – the experience ends because it was just that, an experience. This is true of any other spiritual experience, such as Samadhis or Kundalini awakenings.
In this way the experience of Self-Realization (Nirvikalpa Samadhi) does not necessarily lead to Moksha. This is why there are so many frustrated meditators and spiritual experiencers around trying to get the experience back. Even if they succeed they will most likely “lose” the Self-Realization once again, because the knowledge that they are that which makes all experience possible, i.e. Awareness, escapes them.
The knowledge that the meditation points to is that meditation is just another object appearing in you, allowing the reflection of the Self to appear in a still mind. However, seeing as no experience can take place without you, Awareness, and because as Awareness you are actionless, no special experience is required to experience the Self.
You are always experiencing the Self whether you are meditating or not, in Samadhi or not, in Kundalini awakening or not, etc. You just don’t know this. And no action the doer takes can produce Self-Knowledge.
Self-Inquiry is the application of knowledge. Self-Inquiry states that Awareness is our true nature and both knowledge and ignorance are objects appearing in you, awareness. Keeping this knowledge in mind and continually contemplating on it is Self-Inquiry.
This is why Self-Inquiry is different from meditation or other spiritual practices, because the knowledge is maintained by an act of will, whereas in meditation/spiritual practice the knowledge appears during a particular experience.
The above from Explore Vedanta