Thursday November 9, 2006
This evening the little sitting group that I am involved in met here to meditate. When I say “little”, I am not joking: there are two of us at the moment (although any other Brummie meditators are welcome as well – see sittinginthemiddle.org for more details). But it is great to have a regular commitment to sit with others every week. So the two of us had a cup of tea and then sat. I don’t meditate enough in the evenings. There is something lovely about sitting in meditation at the end of the day. It seems to me to be no accident that the Buddha figure associated with meditation, Amitabha, is associated in Tibetan traditions with the West – the direction of the setting sun.
It’s been a very busy week. My first novel, Cargo Fever, is in it’s final rewrite (although, if I may be permitted a quick plug, I’ve just discovered that if you are super-keen you can already pre-order it from Amazon.co.uk by clicking here) before it goes to copy editing next week. The PhD is crawling towards completion. I’ve got a stack of undergraduate essays to mark – some great ones on Montaigne’s writing on death. And then there’s the usual round of other teaching and working and hanging out with the cat. So I was in need of a bit of meditation by sundown.
Whilst meditating, I was reflecting upon one of my favourite delusions: the delusion that life is something that we somehow have to actively live. It may seem that it is odd to call this a delusion, but I think that nevertheless it does have something delusory about it. As delusions go, it is quite a subtle one. Of course from an everyday point of view, we do act in the world and action is clearly important. But the delusory aspect is the idea that somehow we have to drive ourselves to action, the lurking fear that without this restless driving, life might simply stop. When I fall into this delusion, I can feel a restlessness quivering through my being. I fall prey to indecision. I become ratty and irritable. When I give it up, interestingly, I do not find myself acting less, but rather acting in a different fashion, without this quivering restlessness. I seem to act with more purpose and I seem to be less subject to irritability.
It comes down, I think, to a kind of trust in the fact that the life that we are in the midst of simply flows on of its own accord. It is not like a clock that we have to continually wind up and set going again. As I meditated, the opening line from D.H. Lawrence’s poem Song of a Man Who has Come Through came to mind: “Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!” And thinking this, all delusory fantasies of life being somehow self-driven faded away and I found myself once again reawakening to the unfolding of life, moment by moment.
The trick, of course – when I return to work tomorrow – is allowing sufficient space to be able to reawaken to this even in the heart of activity… but that is another story.
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