Nor sure who said it first, some ancient zen master for sure, but there’s this quip that “meditation is good for nothing.” It leads nowhere, offers no reliable outcome and, should not be approached as a remedy or solution. Instead, as best as I can imagine, it is a way of being in the world, moment by moment. It offers the chance to glimpse what’s called our ‘true nature’ or ‘essence.’ Just don’t count on it.
But go looking for it and you’re sure to be disappointed. Yet day after day, in all corners of the world, individuals will take a seat, on a cushion, bench, or chair, cross their legs in some contortion or another, lower their gaze, bring attention to their breath, and … begin to witness the unfolding and dissolving of thoughts and sensations. Not striving to achieve anything, they nonetheless aim for something. It’s that “aim for what” that perplexes me.
Most of my dreams are marked by anxiety. I’m always running after trains, getting caught without a ticket, walk around crowded places without pants on, get accused of wrongdoing, run from one authority figure after another, and so on. Years of meditation (and psychotherapy) haven’t cut down on the frequency of such dreams, but helped me recover more quickly from the panic once I wake up. This morning, once more in a state of agitation, I sat up in meditation posture, hoping to calm my fast-beating pulse and get a nearer to the source of this anxiety.
What I found was that … my heart was beating rapidly, my breaths felt short, and the cause of anxiety … is a mystery. That’s it for today.
image: “The Thinker” bronze sculpture in the Musée Rodin in Paris.