“There is a word in Buddhism that means ‘wishlessness’ or ‘aimlessness’. The idea is that you do not put something in front of you and run after it, because everything is already here, in yourself. While we practice walking meditation, we do not try to arrive anywhere. We only make peaceful, happy steps. If we keep thinking of the future, of what we want to realize, we will lose our steps. The same is true with sitting meditation. We sit just to enjoy our sitting; we do not sit to attain any goal. This is quite important. Each moment of sitting meditation brings us back to life, and we should sit in a way that we enjoy our sitting for the entire time we do it. Whether we are eating a tangerine, drinking a cup of tea, or walking in meditation, we should do it in a way that is ‘aimless’.”
— “Peace is Every Step”, Thich Nhat Hanh
I’m often pulled, together with others, into a collective hallucination. I know that sometimes I am lured into seeing the world in a way that has very little to do with reality. Reading the news and scrolling my social feeds, I often feel like I’m in a funhouse with endless traps—I’m never sure which way is up, which surface is a mirror, and which turn will drop me into a maze from which I can’t easily escape.
It’s always a confusing trip.
Since I got interested in how the human mind works, I’ve been amazed and appalled at the unreliability of my mind and how casually it succumbs to the forces of influence in the environment (not just news and social media, but also the ideas of the people we live with, the cultural and societal notions that continue to wash over us, etc). Add to that the in-built biases in our minds, and the heuristics we like to use to take short cuts in our thinking…
I’m beginning to think of myself as a most unreliable narrator.
That’s why meditation is so important. The practice, at its heart, is about seeing reality as it is, adding nothing and subtracting nothing.
At times like this I catch myself thinking that meditation is the one important thing I should do in my life, above everything else. (Reading books and continuing to learn about how the mind works is also helpful. Unless you don’t mind life under the blue pill.)