So, I was taking a ride home tonight, and the guy was listening, on the radio, to some religious Jewish chicks talking about Buddhism and meditation, and stuff. At first I was taken a little aback – not a big collector of memes, myself, with my ADHD and other issues, I just tend to classify it all as bullshit and go on my angry way.
And – the real issue here – religious Jews talking about Buddhism…. really, isn’t it heresy? I mean, they’re not even allowed to do Reiki, for Jehova’s sake. But if you pondered that for a minute you’d realize that memes, regardless of their origins, have a natural attraction for one another and, when no particularly adverse circumstances are present to set them apart, would rather mingle than fight.
So, what’s my problem with meditation? Well, life’s too short to be sitting in one place for hours trying to force a reluctant and restless mind fit into some predefined spaces…. that’s one thing. Another is that meditating always brings the real me out of me, and the real me likes picking fights with everything. I can relax – after a good expenditure of energy and maybe 20,000 words of spoken text…. but ask me to sit in one place and be quiet, and you’ve lost me.
But this is not about me, I’m supposed to be writing about some aspect of the meaning of life here, right? So I’m a westerner, which makes all those old and neo-Buddhists (and Buddha tourists) roll their eyes up and start talking about how I’m missing the true whatever, while all I really want out of life is to be a good animal. But I digress.
The hostess of the show then gave a parable: Say you have a liter of water with some salt in it, you’ve got salty water, right?
Now you take this water and dilute it in a tank full of water. What do you have now? Fresh water. I think the moral was that you can….. dilute your troubles, or, I dunno, gain a better perspective of them, or….. I’m never gonna make a good Buddhist Jew, me.
So I say, in my head “hold it, Lady, what was the concentration of salts in the tank before you added your salty water to it?” If you had, say, distilled water, then adding some salt (or salts) to it would actually make it sweet and drinkable. But here I am, standing at your water tank, pouring a bag of salt into it – what’ve you got there now? What’s the moral of our story?
Da meaning of Life
I’ll tell you what: life operates its pressures on you and you do whatever you can, you tell yourself whatever stories you find appealing, at the moment, to get by. All these memes are just the bullshit colours used in the art of getting by.
Yeah, why not put your mind at ease, take things in proportion, learn to relax, even meditate, sometimes, when the time is right. Hell, I have. I’ve also had deep meaningful experiences on drugs, not unlike some moments of spontaneous meditation I had experienced. I don’t tend to give those experiences a mystical meaning, and I’m not even sure I completely agree with Sam Harris about his idea of ‘secular spirituality’, but it’s a nice idea, worth some attention. The brain needs rest, the brain needs to have a test run every now and them, so do your memes, do drugs – responsibly – and be merry, and, when possible, leave the bullshit outside.
These are my 2 dimes, and here’s another nickel for ya: in order to be a balanced human being you’ll need, from time to time, to dip into the darker places of your mind. It’s not all relaxation and smiles and happy memes, you need to feel the pain of your existence, you need to acknowledge it, to express it, from time to time, or else it will get you, and no amount of happy thoughts would help you then.
Our culture is not set up for this, it does not acknowledge this, so we seek the devil that makes us sick and miserable elsewhere, and we force everybody else to be smiling and positive all the time, pretending that it’s really working. I’d like to see that change, one day.
Until then – good night and good luck.