Buddhism: 10% Inspiration, 90% Meditation…

img_0991Why meditation? Why not? Can nothingness heal? I say ‘nothingness’, though Buddhists generally prefer the term ’emptiness’, and I won’t quibble over syntax nor semantics, as long as no one says the word ‘nihilism’, not to be confused with ‘Nealism’ for all you rock-and-shouters, and holy rollers. But after long riffing on Sartre’s ‘nothingness’, I now prefer the term ’emptiness’, also, as it implies a form, a vessel, though equally accessible with or without content, an important distinction…

Is Meditation a paradigm for life? At first the proposition seems rather preposterous, but that is exactly what many Buddhists, plus Eckhart Tolle and others seem to be suggesting, if they are to be believed, many of them blithely advising that we cease our critical thinking altogether and ‘live in the moment’. Of course without any analytical thinking there would be no Science, no Technology, few arts and even less letters, so I roundly reject the suggestion as misguided fantasy, and merciless fancy…

But still, should maybe we be spending at least ten percent, if not fully half our time in meditation or something similar? If that translates to ‘silence’, then maybe so. Our lives are so cluttered with sounds and songs that it’s hard to know where our thoughts start and others leave off. Situations that used to be artificially calmed with canned ‘Muzak’ or ‘elevator music’ are increasingly cluttered with raucous pop—bad pop—music. The worse it gets, the more it gets to us, in direct proportion to the distance from the source, i.e. cities…

Yes, in a perfect world, meditation would not be necessary, but until then: if half our waking hours were to be spent in quiet contemplation of something or other, then maybe that’s worthwhile, anything to slow us down, save ourselves, and save our planet, too. The medical profession has made its most obvious gains already, and the myth of eternal life is just that—myth, not likely to ever be achieved, short of gene-splicing, and then the genie is out of the bottle, and the results could be catastrophic…

Then there’s the myth of multi-tasking, the idea that we are somehow capable of doing many things at one and the same time, with equal attention and responsibility to all. But at what cost? In fact it’s not even accurate, as you are constantly switching from one activity to the other, with a likely drop in quality if not quantity, of executed actions…

I’m the worst at this, simply because I’m the best, at dividing myself into many constant and convenient clones, with the result that I can’t really focus full-force on any one thing—until I started meditating. Why re-boot your computer when it gets all slow and clunky? Why tune up your engine when the darn thing just won’t run right?

The idea is to return to some pristine uncluttered state, free and clear, free and clean, without the fustercluck of a long hard day in someone else’s traffic, someone else’s office. This is the goal of meditation, and largely successful. The quickie take is that meditating serves to ‘still the mind’, which is true, but only by controlling it. Now ‘control’ sounds evil, but not so if you’re doing it to yourself, with yourself. Then it’s power, in a good way…

Some Christians rag on Buddhism as ‘life-denying’ while pumping itself up as ‘life-affirming’, life in this case apparently synonymous with ‘stuff’, as if there were nothing more important nor definitive in this human dimension than the acquisition of things and their consequences, and the celebration of ourselves as their owners, as if possession were 9/10, and all the rest mere interest on principal…

The hardest part of consciousness is to enhance it without trying to possess it, ideas and thoughts passing thru on southbound trains, dropping off packages and messages without waiting for a signature to verify delivery. If I stop to record them, then they not only vanish, but the whole train is gone in the night. It takes some empty space in there to properly organize things. This ain’t Chinatown, Jake…

Empty space is the most important design element in any structure, architectural or mental, this sign of maturity and fulfillment the antithesis of Chinatown’s chaotic cluster of signs and symbols, all begging for attention. The emptiness of meditation is not really nothingness but one-pointedness, all or nothing, zero or one, binary logic in service to the greater good. But can it heal?

Certainly in the case of mental health, it can. There is a visual and cognitive basis to much of disease. Perception, fear and will (or lack thereof) are the battleground which facilitates the entrance and your acceptance of disease into your body—or not. We set ourselves up to be unhealthy, simply by providing so many protections—and overindulging in them! Our bodies never get a chance to heal themselves, because we don’t let them, and they’ve rarely had a chance to practice at it…

But good mental health, and a positive mental attitude, are the best guarantors of physical health, as is generally known by now, by all of us. It would be irresponsible of me to make any greater claims than that, BUT: everything is an opportunity to return to the source, and re-sourcefulness can heal, i.e. silence = 0 = source, and meditation can definitely help with that. Now if I could just master the lotus position…

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