I used to meditate every day. In fact now that I do not meditate every day- a certain guilt lingers in my gut. I feel like I am missing something. But I find it difficult to assume the lotus posture from day to day. Instead I get caught up in the silent fury of the day and try to spend as little time as I can erasing my thoughts. The other day a millionaire friend of mine said to me “don’t worry, meditation is for loosers.” I thought about what he said with intense consideration. I wondered if I was looser. “If you need to sit in silence and get all the thoughts out of your head….then you should live with cats and dogs,” he said to me when we were discussing meditation. “We are living in tough times, maybe the end of time as we know it…and as far as I am concerned when the plane is falling out of the sky I want to be around people who are going to work hard, brilliantly to bring the plane back into flight rather than people who are just going to sit there with their backs straight, clear their minds and focus on breathing. Meditation is for people who can’t handle the heat or the stress of their own mind…as far as I am concerned they are loosers,” he said before excusing himself from the room to make a gin and tonic.
Maybe meditation is for loosers. The minds of men and women, which become so compounded by unruly thoughts, needs to be controlled. But do we really need to assume some Asain posture and focus on our breath until the mind stops jabbering back and forth. Can’t we just find some activity that we love doing, some book that we love reading, or some worth while form of activism and pre-occupy ourselves with doing these things rather than turning off and going into a state of vegetation. A meditation teacher of mine once said that in a time of crisis meditation was one of the more pro-active things a human could do. I always thought that this was a nice way to rationalize away his inactivity….his looserness.
The world is in a state of degeneration. Every species is in decline. The human animal is destroying itself quickly. The sea is turning black. It makes sense to think “why not slow down and meditate. If everyone in the world did this we could avoid global warming, wars would end and things would return to a state of balance.” Maybe so, but like my millionaire friend said, “when the plane is going down I want to be around people who are doing something.”
Yesterday I saw a sign that said “Meditate For Global Warming Inside.” I went into the room which was filled with all different kinds of people meditating. Hundreds of human beings sitting silently together sharing the same silent air. Incense was burning and there was a Tibetan man in Buddhist garb sitting on a throne in the front of the room directing the meditation. A women waved me over towards an empty cushion upon which I sat and assumed the lotus position. After a few moments of settling my restless mind I focused on my breath and began to relax. As I shut my eyes the woman besides me whispered into my ears, “imagine the possibilities.”
After twenty minutes of sitting silently in meditation I could take it no more. I kept hearing my millionaire friends voice saying “meditation is for loosers.” I kept thinking about all the things I could be doing with this time. I could be finishing the book that has taken me weeks to read. I could be making art work, I could be walking in the woods, I could be paying bills, I could be doing all the things I am constantly putting off- but instead I am sitting here doing nothing. The Tibetan in the front of the room said “be mindful of our restless minds. Don’t allow our thoughts to carry us away. Stay here now and be nobody. Emptiness. A vessel of the divine.” I did not want to be a vessel of the divine. I wanted to be a vessel of myself- so with rage in my gut I stood up and said much louder that I expected to “meditation is for loosers.” The whole room of silent, peace loving meditator’s turned around. Some looked shocked others looked enraged. As I turned around and walked out I had heard someone yell at me “you are the looser!”
Maybe I am a looser. I am almost forty years of age and I am yet to have any idea what I am going to do with my life. I still take money from my parents and my credit is horrible. Depression often sneaks up on me like an entity that wants to steal my soul. I spend a lot of time staring and blank walls mystified by the fact that I am in the prime of my life yet I have little ambition. The desire to make money and succeed is as strong in me as it is in a slug. I’d rather spend my days playing my trumpet than working away my life. It is possible that I am a looser. My millionaire friend is always impressed by my ability to do nothing. When I tell him that my strategy to prevent global warming from destroying humanity is to make as little money as possible and to stay at home as much as I can, he sneers at me in disbelief. He like most people does not understand my form of activism. “You should just spend your days in meditation,” he says to me. I know what he really means. He is saying to me, “you are a lost cause, a looser who can not save the world and this is why you should meditate.” We are at the edge of the roof, maybe it is not such a bad idea to just sit down and be still.