Meditation is all very well and good, but why are we meditating? Here are collected articles that talk about the meta-level of meditation: strategies we can use to find the right teacher, and ideas about how to see the world and what philosophy of life to adopt. I do not claim to know the right answers to questions on these topics, but I am sharing my current thinking on the topic here in hopes that it may be of use to you.
You may have encountered the Buddhist idea that all suffering comes from the three poisons: desire, hatred and ignorance. Honestly, this sounds kind of judgy. Am I supposed to never want anything? But more importantly, I’m not a hateful person, so why am I suffering from that? Actually, “hatred” isn’t the best translation.
One of the problems that I have when I get into arguments on Twitter is that eventually the person I’m arguing with tends to say “okay, fine, if we don’t pay take care of each other, we have to see people around us suffering, but why should I care?” This is my attempt to answer that question. It’s too long for a tweet, unfortunately.
What does a superficial discussion about brands have to do with the real disagreements that people have? How can seeing this help to bring about a more harmonious discourse? And what does this have to do with meditation, anyway?
The world is broken. We want to fix it. But most of the time, what we do to satisfy that desire actually makes things worse, not better. How can we really fix the world when our actions are really just about trying to heal the pain we feel? Is it possible to treat these as separate activities? Could we be more effective if we did?
Pain is inevitable. But is all pain inevitable? And is there any way to have a healthier relationship to pain?
Anxiety comes not so much from knowing that something could go wrong, but imagining that there is something I can do to control that. Social anxiety is no different. Learning to let go of this idea of control can lead to a profound reduction in the anxiety the desire for control normally produces.
Is there such a thing as awakening? Is it worth doing? How? Someone asked this today, and I felt like it was worth writing this brief answer. TL;DR: “yes, probably, and you have to read the post for the rest.”
It’s not enough to be calm and centered. But it’s a good place from which to start.
I talked about magical thinking in an earlier post; perhaps I should have said wishful thinking instead. Thinking that things will just take care of themselves, that I don’t have to do any work, or any thinking, this is wishful thinking. Imagining that a result will come with no effort. Thinking that your teachers are infallible is actually an example of this kind of thinking. To succeed in the practice, we have to take responsibility for our own success, and not put it on someone or something else.
When we see the world as we wish it were, and not as it is, we weaken our ability to actually make that wish a reality, and make ourselves suffer in the bargain. It is possible to reach a state of mind where we can accept what is and work from there; in doing so, we become much more effective and also much happier.