Monday, July 12, 2010

Catching the good waves

I am busy reading a little book by Matthieu Ricard entitled 'The art of meditation'.

On my shelf I have Daniel Goleman's 'Destructive emotions', which in now linking to Ricard's wiki page, I see he contributed to. 'Destructive emotions' is a collaborative work between Goleman and the Dalai Lama. While I have read a few of Goleman's books, I have not read much, if any, Buddhist literature. What I was interested in in the preface to that book was the argument that the Dalai Lama had that the role of Buddhism was (not in the same words) to have Popper-like bold ideas, and then work with science to disprove some of the theories, then find better ones. Basically... if something doesn't make sense or is proved wrong, accept it and move on.

I like that. It discards the 'dogma' aspect of religion where there are some sacred cows that when questioned are just accepted blindly as 'beyond human reasoning'.

It seems no wonder then that many of the things in this little book resonate deeply. It is a guide to meditation, which as far as I can see on my admittedly very early and naive journey, is quite simply learning to control/direct the mind in a positive way. Not to ignore emotions, but not to let them control you. A way to calm down thoughts and focus. A way to cut through the noise.

For example, this paragraph:
A third form of laziness is not having the determination to do immediately what you know to be the most important thing and wasting your time instead on minor activities. To remedy this, establish priorities among your projects, and remember that while your days are numbered, ordinary activities are like waves on the ocean - there is no end to them.'
I had always thought of meditation as an escape from reality, and a path to inactivity and 'giving up'. It seems quite the opposite. It seems like it is a path, to extend the metaphor of the above paragraph, that lets you catch the good waves.
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