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.
What is the point of loving our enemies, anyway?
One of the bugaboos of practice is the difference between right and wrong. I say “bugaboo,” because although virtuous behavior is very important to practice, there is no right that can be stated. There is no wrong that can be stated.
If you have read about or studied Buddhism at all, you’ve heard the idea that part of the Buddhist path is to “overcome desire.” This can be a bit off-putting, because it leaves us with the impression that wanting things is bad, and on the one hand this sort of seems true, but on the other hand, if we entirely give up on wanting things, won’t we starve? The confusion actually boils down to the difficulty of translating Pali or Sanskrit to english: “desire” means more than one thing.
How do I become the person I wish I were? How do I even know if the person I wish I were is who I would want to be if I were that person? There is no perfect answer to this question, but here’s some thoughts about it.
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.