We all love stories. We like to be entertained.
We love reading about the stories of those who have found success in their practice, or their art. We love being drawn away from our lives and to envision our lives as something else. We all have read self-help books and have done nothing of what was asked, or when we did do something we stopped when it got hard or inconvenient. We read endless quotes about meditation such as “Silence is a place of great power and healing,” “One of the happiest moments in life is letting go of what you cannot change,” “Happiness of the world is transitory. The less you become attached to the world the more you enjoy peace of mind”, “when you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky -Buddha.” These are usually accompanied by photos of beautiful people smiling and meditating in gardens or by the sea, or of statues of long dead teachers, or with yoga poses in beautiful places, or of smiling monks in robes. Wouldn’t it be nice to be those people? Wouldn’t it be nice to be somebody else !?! Wouldn’t it be nice to have finally arrived at peace?!? The question I ask when I see these quotes or these idealized pictures is “Then What?” What happens after the beautiful yoga pose on the beach? What happens after you laugh at the sky seeing the perfection of it all? What happens after the monks quit smiling at the camera? What happens next?
Here is the truth.
No matter how many books on meditation you read, no matter how many self-help books you pick up, no matter how many times you read words by Thick Nhat Hanh, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, or the Dalai Lama (or thousands of other teachers) no matter how many beautiful people you see meditating you will never meet yourself until you sit your ass on your cushions and begin. Right where you are, with all of your gifts and deficits and continue a regular seated or moving practice the rest of your life. Everything else is a waste of time! The problem is that people confuse entertainment with doing. They want to spout enigmatic sayings and pretend that they are somebody else, pretend they are wise, that they are mystical. If what you want is entertainment, great! Go about your business and be entertained or entertaining. But don’t confuse that with the actual work of engaging yourself. The manual of the world’s meditative instructions would be a very small book. You don’t need many, you need one. One that you can do over and over again and engage it for years and years. Meditation is the opposite of being entertained.
Teachers of meditation whether seated or moving, have always had a difficulty. How do you convince a world beguiled by their desire to be entertained, to just meditate? Everything else is just sales. I could go on and on about the benefits and wonders found in meditation. All of those wonders would be misleading until you are deep within meditation and If you are deep in meditation you would not need any other reason! Do you see the problem? Have you met the enemy? Are you still looking for Buddha on the road?
Here is a link to a meditation. Here is a more simple one from the Taoist Tradition.
Sit and Forget. You sit and when you remember something you forget. Couldn’t be any more simple.
What will you do?