Yesterday I wrote a post for my HinesSight blog about a stand-up comedian I like a lot, Taylor Tomlinson. The post started off with a bit of semi-tongue-in-cheek philosophizing.
My big problem with life is... (drumroll please)... LIFE.
Meaning, insofar as I know what I mean, but now that I just wrote this blog's topic sentence, I'm stuck with explaining it, no matter how many problems get fixed in my life, new ones pop up like a perpetual motion machine designed by a sadist.
I suspect most people feel this way. So what are we to do?
Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll only can take us so far, especially if we're (OK, me) so old, sex is starting to look like the car that zipped by in the other lane and now is so small in the rearview mirror it's barely discernible; drugs are limited to marijuana because dealers of harder stuff are find to find when you're 73; and the last rock band truly worth listening to in your entirely personal opinion was Cream over fifty years ago.
Meditation? Yeah, I've been there and done that for a really long time.
The fact that I'm still as messed up in 2022 as I was in 1969 when I started to meditate every day tells me that based on that extensive flat trend line, the chance of me taking a sudden quantum leap to a blissful state of enlightenment is vanishingly small.
So I'm becoming increasingly convinced that television is the solution to my problems.
But even if television isn't the solution to my problems, the question still remains: if not television, then what else is the solution to my problems? Or your problems? Or the problems of anyone else in the world?
It seems virtually undeniable that no one's life is problem free. At least, anyone who is capable of recognizing problems. If someone lacks that capacity, then sure, they can be free of problems. For the rest of us, though, problems are always going to be a part of life.
As noted in last night's post, I've meditated every day for over 50 years. So if meditation was going to make me look at problems with a so what? eye because they couldn't interfere with my blissful state of elevated awareness, it sure seems like that would have happened by now.
Which assumes that bliss is a goal of meditation. I'd pretty much thought it was since my first days of yoga meditation during college. Back then, in 1969, I embraced the Indian notion of sat-chit-ananda, truth-consciousness-bliss, as a hallmark of meditation.
This morning, though, I listened to a guided meditation on Sam Harris' Waking Up app where he says that no state produced in meditation is worth much. I generally agree with his point, though naturally I prefer pleasant feelings to unpleasant feelings when I meditate.
But I readily admit that this preference could simply show that I'm missing what meditation is all about, at least according to Sam Harris, someone I respect a lot. Harris said:
If at any point when you're practicing, you begin to feel especially calm, peaceful, even blissful, and you think, well, there it is, meditation's finally working, notice that inclination to grasp a transitory experience.
And, relinquish it.
There's no state you can produce that matters. If it arises, it will pass away. The goal here is to recognize that which doesn't arise and pass away: a condition of empty, open clarity that precedes and transcends every other experience.
And as a matter of experience you're not meditating on that. You are that. It is the light by which everything else is being seen.