Friday, December 21, 2012

doubt and right intention in meditation

(Photo: The double vajra: Vajra means thunderbolt and diamond--it symbolizes indestructibility and an irresistible force. The center is sunyata.)

I asked the google plus group Wildmind why they meditate, and I'm writing my answer here.

I'm going to try to articulate the reason to meditate, and my resistance to doing it.

If you're not trying to get a result in meditation, you're just trying to accept what is arising, then what is your effort and what is your intention in meditation?

My behavior (lack of regular meditation) suggest doubt about meditation.

So I wanted to clarify my intention in meditation.
First there is a general settling. Even if tuning into myself reveals a chaos I didn't want to look at--and that's a weird paradox is that I can feel more insane as I become saner--meditation often has a settling and calming of the mind effect. It feels less cluttered, it's a kind of defragment of my hard drive that has some mild gains in the space where my mind works. This can be frustrating at times, because for every level you tidy up, there's another level down that needs to be cleaned up.

I feel a basic bottom level thing you get from meditation is less reactivity. When I have greater objectivity of mind--that just because I think something doesn't mean it's true--then I'm less likely to make weird decisions.

When I watch my mind, and work to accept what is going on with it, I'm also more in touch with the resistance I have to my experience, and my resistance to reality.

When I look at my mind, I can better lines of action, and clarify what I want to be in my actions.

I often think without thinking, there's a kind of reflection that is not so much a kind of chess computer, but more of an opening to the obvious solutions, a simplicity that helps the old mind to run less hot. I try and think myself out of problems that I create by not clearly seeing the world. That's what I take the whole Zen don't think stuff to be about, in part. I clutter things up trying to think, when what I need to do is comprehend.

And when I've settled my mind and cleared some space past some basic grasp of reality, then I can go deeper into the insight of the Dharma: it changes with conditions, those conditions will never satisfy all the time, and even my own self is a collection of conditions.

See, I'm hoping to go deeper, but the weird thing is that you can't just will it beyond doing it and trying. I guess as you go deeper, you can control it more, maybe. That's what some people say.

Some of my qualms: If I've learned to tolerate the chaos I discover inside me, does that contribute to me not meditating because I then tolerate chaos and unsettledness? Do I forget that it's good to do? I'm trying to articulate the good so I can choose it, because like many people who meditate I "wish" I would meditate more, but my actions say I doubt the good that it does.

I worry I won't have the energy, even though meditation gives me more energy.

A force pushing me away from awakening is the my fear that I won't be able to tolerate looking at the hard things, the fear I will be overwhelmed and resourceless. That's never happened yet, but is a kind of secret lurker. I have made a terrible mistake and I hate it.

There have been times in my life when I was a solid meditator, and yet even then I didn't feel like I was doing it enough. I suppose that wishing to do it more is a kind of glimpse of the hope that it would improve things--not improve the world but my relation to the world. I think my mistake makes me think it's not enough, but really when I made my mistake I wasn't meditating that much. I draw the wrong conclusion all the time, and meditation helps with that, but when you don't meditate, then how do you pull yourself up by the bootstraps? A koan that is only really solved by meditating, getting unstuck.

At least with a steady regular practice you're putting something in the bank.

Does it really matter to move where the battle is? OK, when I meditate, I'm fighting these fights over there, and when I don't, I'm fighting ones elsewhere. Does it really matter where? I think it does, but when I'm not meditating my actions say it doesn't. It's like substance abuse, not meditating is a kind of nihilism--nothing really matters.

In then end I just think: Just do it.

My girlfriend writes her response to my question; why meditate?

I meditate because even if I have rough sit, it's still the calmest my mind is at any given point in time. I meditate because even though it sometimes hurts, I know it is making me a better person. I meditate because I appreciate the opportunity to slow down and contemplate whats going on with me, and why. I'm the type of person who has to almost always be busy. And meditation has helped me to realize that. With more meditation I'll be able to get better control of that.

Lately I've been considering my cooking time to be like meditation. When I'm in the kitchen, I don't think much. My mind is clear and I'm just cooking, chopping and mixing. Things do go through my mind, but slowly, in a way where I can actually stop and say, 'Oh, that's what that was about'. And it's something completely unrelated to anything. That's what happens when I meditate.

I know that if I think about things with a calm and steady mind, they'll make more sense. The more I meditate the more I am able to do that.

Why do you meditate?

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