Got a very interesting email from a friend today. This gets a little spiritual, so fair warning to you guys.
I have been reading Eckhart Tolle’s book on The Power of Now and It has got me thinking about Zen philosophy again. I heard that you used to practice meditation quite a bit and I wanted to ask you about it.
Zen is contradictory to most of the philosophy I invest in but, its unclear whether or not it has to be exclusive. One struggle I have is the idea that ruminating in the past or future is detrimental to one’s overall consciousness-even when it is positive. Tolle says, the idea of a future heaven creates a present hell. Does attachment need to be taken to this extreme? Can my finding meditation boring be explained as unenlightenment?
hmmm-I’m still very skeptical,”
I’ve been meditating regularly since I was 16. I was VERY into it and reading a lot about spirituality and eastern philosophy in college, so this isn’t another, “LET GO OF YOUR EGO, BRO!” type of posts. I honestly believe that spirituality is something that can hardly be conveyed with words, but only lived or experienced, so I usually shut my mouth about it.
With that said, this is a pretty common dilemma for people who are exposed to zen and eastern philosophy… that the idea of “unattachment” isn’t exactly practical or even applicable in modern life. You have to remember that a lot of these philosophies were developed 4,000 years ago when their were far fewer demands and complexities to life. So the idea of going and sitting in a cave for nine years and staring at a wall wasn’t exactly giving up a whole lot.
With that said, the common sticking point for everyone is, “if I’m supposed to be attached to nothing and desire nothing, how the hell do I get anything done?” Hell, how did Tolle write mutliple 300-page books if he was completely unattached to the future? Wouldn’t he just stare and smile at the typewriter?
The problem comes with the explanation of attachment. Many people take it as wanting or desiring ANYTHING. This is where you get people living on communes, giving up their possessions, moving to Tibet and whatnot. It’s also the main reason I don’t associate with the spiritual community, because I think they commit the same foul, just in the opposite direction.
The catch is that actively being unattached to things is being attached to something. You’re attached to being unattached. Actively desiring to be desireless is still a desire. Letting go of a thought is still a thought. Surrendering to a feeling is still a feeling. Read this paragraph again until it makes sense. I think most (smart) people who are turned off by Eastern Philosophy intuitively recognize this. And rightly so…
By that definition of desire and attachment, you’re screwed if you do or you don’t.
A more proper explanation would be that it refers to not just things that you want or desire, but things that you are AFRAID OF LOSING. For instance, a guy can enjoy and appreciate his job… but if he lost it, would shit hit the fan and would try to hang himself? If so, then he’s attached to it. But if he accepts it as just another wave of manifestation and permutation of life, the all-pervading consciousness and accepts that his path is taking a new route… well, he’s probably not very attached.
You know that saying, “You can’t truly have something until you’re willing to lose it?” It’s like that.
And in the end, that’s not what Zen (or eastern spirituality in general) is about — the doing or not doing. It’s all about how much of your sense of Self is attached to the outcome of what you do or don’t do. This is why the “don’t get attached to the past or the future” is common, because most people have their egos and ideas of themselves invested very heavily in either something they’re going to do one day or have done in their past. And in the end, it tortures them in the present.
“Being present” isn’t ignoring the past or the future… because the act of thinking about a past or a future is actually taking place in the present. It’s impossible to NOT be present, what changes is your perspective.
And in the end, that’s what it’s about, widening your perspective. Recognizing that you have such little control and little knowledge of… well, ANYTHING in the world, that you might as well let go and be humble about it. Have your career goals, thoughts and ideas, your hopes and dreams, but don’t attach the Self to it in such a way that you’ll suffer if you don’t achieve them. Remember what’s happened to you and enjoy your memories, but don’t base your identity on it.
Obviously this is all easier said than done.
The way I explain it is recognizing that it’s all just a game that we’re playing, the game is called life — and I don’t mean in the business, climb-the-ladder analogy — but in the fact that ultimately, everything that we are and do is just a cosmic interplay between seemingly separate manifestations of consciousness. Most people never realize it’s a game. And as a result, they are slaves to the ebbs and flows of what’s played.
But there are people who slowly realize that it’s just a game. Some of these people find out by refusing to play. Some find out by simply stopping and paying attention. Some find out by almost being removed from the game. Some realize it by watching others being removed before their eyes. But in the end, for whatever reason, they realize it’s just a game, and because it’s just a game, they have no reason to be worried or afraid… ever, because it’s just a game, and whoever wins or loses doesn’t matter… because it’s just going to start all over again.
I hope something made sense to somebody from this. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to fucking and sucking this weekend.
P.S. – Tolle is nice, but it’s Pop-Spirituality. It’s like the airport book of Eastern Philosophy. Let me know if you want some recommendations.
P.P.S. – What does this have to do with gaming women? I have no fucking idea. Some of the most completely neurotic headcases I’ve ever met were amazing with women. Some of the most spiritual and serene guys weren’t. Anybody who says you have to enlighten yourself to become good with the opposite sex is insane.