Why do we meditate at all? Isn’t it to get better? To end suffering, to improve ourselves? To be stress free? Or some other version of it?
Most people seek out meditation to end suffering
I remember when I started looking into meditation it was to sleep properly. Thoughts kept me awake at the night and I was sleeping during the day. And it pushed me into a vicious circle of judging my situation for not sleeping, questioning my life, thinking my life was a failure and… something had to be done. The pain of being stuck was getting higher and higher.
Most of my pain was brought about by the loneliness. Not having someone to spend time with… Being an awkward kid, I was not – and I don’t think I am a very sociable person. Lack of connection also made me want to try out meditation so I will be able to transcend my thoughts, stay present and make a connection with someone, or at the very least get past the fears of rejection and talk to someone.
Staying present, I won’t be thinking about my lacks, my lack of confidence, my physical unattractiveness and so on, I thought. That was another reason that I wanted to meditate, when I get rejected – not to feel the hurt, be non-reactive and so on.
The fear did not go away, and I think it is because it was just an idea that I was conjuring up in my head – that staying present will help me ‘overcome fear’, the idea of how presence should look like rather than staying present took me away from the present moment. And I thought I was being ‘aware’
So, I did not want to feel hurt, or feel pain then, so I looked into meditation. As a way to not be affected.
So, If I am anything like others, isn’t it to end suffering, or avoid pain one looks into meditation?
We do things to have more pleasure or to step further away from pain
It is very clear to me that the way we do anything is to have more pleasure or avoid pain. Which are the same things. And mostly it is to end the suffering that one turns towards a practice of meditation.
Buddha did. He was suffering, he saw suffering and he enquired into the nature of suffering. And that led him to wherever he arrived. Which was the realization that there was nowhere to get to, to begin with.
He was bound in a palace with all the goodness, away from suffering and the moment he saw endless suffering outside his perfectly built and presented palace and surrounding, which his father made sure of, that contact with suffering led him to feel tremendous pain.
You can see his father in the current positivity movement – that is to stay away from negativity and be positive. Which will only make you incompetent to handle the negativity there is. Because whether you like it or not, there is negativity all around us, for the same reason there is positivity. They create each other.
Pretending that we don’t think negatively does not work.
Anyway, the point is that is how most of us start looking into meditation. You don’t have to go to a cave to meditate to see that you are escaping the suffering of daily life. You are doing it now, but think that we are not, but in fact we are, we want to escape, end suffering, so we start with meditation.
Again, why do we do anything at all? It is to avoid pain or to have pleasure. You go from one thing after the other to experience more and more pleasure or to step away further from the pain. Seek more and more comfort, make our lives comfortable etc.
Action seem pointless, when we are not striving towards more pleasure or to avoid pain.
Because we need any action to benefit us in some way, otherwise it does not have any meaning. That which we cannot apply in our daily life is pointless. You can talk endlessly and theorise, but it has no personal meaning to you.
So, trying to have or be away from something, perpetuates the problem. Trying to be positive is being negative. Accepting negativity as it is there is being positive. They create each other.
Similarly, a practice of meditation born out of the need to get away from suffering is suffering. It is not meditation.
But can I meditate without it being an escape? Or do I want to meditate at all? What is the point?
The question is not one of which meditation method to accept or how to meditate. It is one of attention. Attention in the sense seeing the movement of my existence.
Psychological time is a fallacy
Isn’t attention, seeing things for what they are, is what I want? Isn’t that where we are trying to arrive so we can end this suffering?
Isn’t meditation a means to an end in the way that I currently do? That is, I meditate regularly, cultivate presence so one day I will be enlightened and then see things for what they are?
This kind of psychological time is a fallacy. There is no psychological time. As opposed to the physical nature of time where a plant requires time to grow or the biological growth. The psychological time is a trap in itself designed to procrastinate and give you an illusion of progress. And to avoid what is. To get better so that I don’t have to experience pain that I have now or to experience please sometime in the future.
Self-development in itself becomes an escape. Reading endless books, attending numerous workshops and seminars and so on. There is a billion-dollar industry built around this. It is run by showing you a promise land, much like the religions do. To be powerful, to reign, to claim one’s own power, to be a badass, a powerful woman, a confident man – all those gimmicks.
Psychological time is again comfort, knowing that one day you will get somewhere. It is the same sort of security that your mind is conjuring up, an image that will give you comfort now. It is the alcohol for the mind, the procrastination and thinking in terms of cultivating the courage, the power or whatever the gimmick is these days.
So, if you say, ‘you have a practice of meditation’, that statement in itself is a contradiction. Mediation cannot be a practice, because it is psychological time. You can’t meditate for 10 mins a day and cultivate presence.
Practicing meditation is a contradiction
Practice also implies that following a structure, which is repetition. Repetition dulls your mind, because it is making ‘what you know’ stronger. And what you know is a response of memory. Which means you are thinking and controlling. And the controller, you, is trying to control something that controller has created. The control creates the control-eee. If there is no controller there is nothing to be controlled.
Think again, if you say you practice meditation.
Don’t get me wrong, repetition is necessary in the field of knowledge like being an engineer or a doctor, or a decent plumber.
We often follow these systems of practice, vipassana, zazen or anything else because we believe in their authority, we believe that they have some answer to our problems. We relinquish our common sense, and our own investigation to a system like that because that is the easy thing to do. It is the same consumerism in the material world that creeps up into the ‘spiritual’ world. Because we want to buy the next online program or attend the next retreat that will magically fix us.
Don’t get me started with the whole idea of self-love and the following behind it.
You always love yourself – it is in your biology to self-preserve. Whatever you do, you are getting a kick out of it. How can you not love yourself?
Why are we hooked to habits and practices?
Anyway, we look up to authority.
We don’t want to find out for ourselves, because it is an immense responsibility and quite frankly, we are lazy.
Looking for a system is laziness, I am not serious enough when I look up to books or a sect or a cult or a religion or an external agency that will tell me how to live a life.
So, the question is, what is the point of all this. There is no point if you don’t recognize the way you act is like what I was talking about. You don’t have to take my word for me, I am speaking about me. But I believe I have the same sort of functionality for the piece of organism called the brain. So, I can generalize.
Effort cannot bring about meditation.
If you are efforting, again, it is having a direction and it cannot be mediation.
So, all the sense of someone is looking at something must disappear. But you can’t do it, because we know now, doing so only perpetuates the problem.
All seeking and running away must stop. When you are watching and learning about fear, you are not running away from it, you are facing it. When fear happens, pay attention without describing it. Without the language.
The moment you start to describe something that you see, you start to disconnect yourself from what is happening. That is running away and not facing and observing what there is. In fact, don’t even name it as fear, because that is the very act that creates that self-image of the fearful you.
Focusing on breath is not meditation.
I don’t think focusing on your breath is meditation and bring about any kind of change. It will help you to focus better – but focusing is not meditation.
Meditation is an all-inclusive process it, that all is appearing in consciousness including the breath. Trying to single out the breath or any kind of object takes effort and it is exclusion. And with this exclusion you cannot meet what is, because you are directing your attention and with an intention, with parts left out, you are not seeing the whole picture of what is going on, you are only seeing a piece of the whole.
To observe something does not require practice. You can simply observe.
What does it mean to observe?
What happens when there is observation without the movement of thought? What does it mean to observe?
To observe is to remain with the fact. Without the observer or the movement of thought. There is no controlling, wanting to get away or move towards. There is no commentary in your head. There is no sense of you looking.
To do that, it brings a lot of fear because you don’t have a sense of you when the thoughts stop, when you don’t run the commentary, the voice in your head. It is also the images and the sense of you. Without the thoughts constantly moving in your head it, you don’t have a self-image. That means that your self-image is afraid of coming to an end. That you would become a vegetable without thought, how are you going to function, how are you going to become someone if there is no thought, if you are not thinking and so on. Who are you without the constant evaluation and commentary? About you and others. All these images made by your thinking is going to stop if you are to remain with the fact. So, there is immense fear because the image does not want to end.
I think, that is the simple reason that you can’t just see the fact. Because you want to create a story out of what is happening by constantly commenting on it, by ‘having an opinion’ to keep your self-image going.
Have you ever tried observing something blue without naming it blue, just perceiving the color? Try it. Gaze and see the picture in front of as shades of color without jumping into conclusions.
Make no conclusion of what you see not make any assumptions.
Reject all authority – it is not what you think it means.
That includes the authority of your previous knowledge. Because any authority is created because of your disorder in your mind. You look up to authorities to create some order in your life, with books or other people – an expert.
We cling to the authority of knowledge to manage the state of our mind. We depend on knowledge to make decisions. The political state is born out of the disorder of their citizens, but has it helped to bring about order?
Anything that is born out of disorder is disorder.
Authority in knowledge or any external agency is not going to help me. I cannot depend on books or meditation retreats, or apps or anything like that. Can the me, the thinking, understand the danger of thinking. Then it comes to and own its own accord.
You don’t think about moving away from a speeding car! You just do, you see the danger and you do.
After all my mind is designed to protect me from danger. Can my mind understand the superficiality and dangers of my thoughts? Can the self-image understand it is merely a self-image?
When it does, that is meditation. Do it now, it does not require practice.
By eliminating that which is not the truth, only truth remains.