Monday, May 6, 2013

meaning and meditation

Like pebbles in my shoes, the thoughts chafe gently today....

What an enormously self-centered question it is ... "What is the meaning of life?"  And, by extension, perhaps, "What is the meaning ..." of anything?

I don't ask from the perspective of some smug pessimist or assured nihilist. Just gently, like some warm cat purring as it rubs against your leg: Is this ego-tripping necessary?

Wail and fulminate and mull -- what does it all mean?! What is the meaning of life?!

And beyond a core of self-centeredness, or perhaps in tandem with it, aren't these questions burdensome ... sort of like putting another rock in a knapsack already laden with cumbersome and sometimes painful weights. When daily evidence points again and again and again towards the fact that answering such questions is an open invitation to getting bitten on the ass ... well it's human, but it's not terribly humane.

And that line of thinking brought me around to the fact that after all these years, I have a hard time saying something credibly good about meditation as a practice. Yes, I like it and yes I do it, but saying something good about it slips like water through my fingers. Not that I'll sit still for finding something bad about it either, but, well ... it would be nice to say something nice.

And perhaps this morning I can. Maybe what is nice about meditation is that it provides a time in which the matter of meaning, the weight and freight of meaning, is laid aside, when its imagined import slips away ... like water through the fingers. I suppose other circumstances can provide the same opportunity, but sitting still in meditation is so much less cluttered.

The habit of looking for or finding meaning is so strong and so ingrained and so self-elevating that taking a few minutes now and then to suggest that there really is an easier approach ... well, isn't that both sensible and kind? Not necessarily easy, of course, but still ... what is the payback for all the rocks in this knapsack? Isn't it just endless strain for no very satisfactory result? It's understandable on the one hand and dumber than a box of rocks on the other ... like Kim Kardashian with yet another suitcase.

Finding meaning in meditation is a pastime for feather merchants. But when anyone actually sits down and focuses the mind ... well, it's kind of nice, kind of lighter, kind of meaningful in a universe where no one would imagine they could nail down a meaning.

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