The past is a fabrication based on our usually imperfect memories, but also tangled up with our views and perceptions. In fact, current research suggests that our memories change to some extent every time we recall something.
The future doesn’t exist, but most of us tend to build hypothetical scenarios based on plans, desires, fantasies, fears, and hopes.
The present moment is the only moment that really exists, but at least in my own experience, it is remarkably easy to get out of touch with it, while we are lost in mental fabrications of one sort or another.
Vipassana meditation is a method to reconnect with the present moment, to slow down and get in touch with our bodies and our fundamental awareness and to quiet the mind’s tendency to weave whole worlds that take us away from reality.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong about thinking and imagining, of course. It’s just that it’s all unreal and if we’re not careful, we can get hopelessly lost in our mental proliferation. Reality gets a bum rap. When we really connect intimately to the present moment it expands and opens into an indescribable stillness.
This stillness in turn provides an arena to gain deep insight, beyond the cerebral, verbal sort, to the nature of our minds, our awareness, and our existence.
Meditation may have many benefits, but the Buddha taught it as an aid to liberation from greed, hatred, and delusion. Maybe it’s worth looking into, eh?
P.S.: Since I wrote this, I came across a New York Times Magazine article that perfectly illustrates the current enthusiasm for “Mindfulness” among health professionals:
This article, by Kim Tingley, was published on January 22, 2020, and focuses on mindfulness as a method of lowering blood pressure. It clearly shows the difficulty in testing mindfulness as a “prescription” for an ailment. What’s the dosage? How do you do a “control” group for a clinical trial? Have the control group twiddle their fingers for 30 minutes? It’s interesting that unlike a lot of articles of this type, the writer points to the original purpose as taught by the Buddha, to counter suffering by dealing with “clinging” or “attachment.” The writer calls this approach a “philosophy,” but the Buddha wasn’t a philosopher. He was actually more like a physician offering a cure – not for low blood pressure, but for unhappiness. The writer quoted Judson Brewer of the Brown Mindfulness Center, who suggested that to judge the outcome of mindfulness, “we need a stickiness measure.” I like that. There’s a cartoon in there somewhere I think!
NEXT TIME: We return to Edzl the Nebboid as he and his pal, Pretzl, return to our solar system via a shortcut through the Looneyverse!