“When a person has a nightmare, that person suffers. For the dreamer, that nightmare is real; in fact, it is the only reality the dreamer knows. And yet the dream has no tangible reality and is not actually ‘real’; it has no reality outside of the dreamers own unconditioned mind, outside of the dreamer’s own karma. From an ultimate perspective, it is in fact an illusion.
The dreamer’s illusion is in failing to recognize the nature of his experiences. Ignorant of what they actually are, the dreamer takes his own productions – the creations of his own mind – to be an autonomous reality; thus deluded, he is frightened by his own projections and creates suffering for himself. The delusion is to perceive as real what actually is not.” – from Luminous Mind.
I attended a meditation retreat recently, and I was overwhelmed with the awareness of how much of my ‘reality’ is just projections; I’m just imagining things are out there which, objectively, are not, and then reacting wildly to them. On the one hand, I know that having that awareness is extremely valuable; on the other hand, it’s off-putting, coming around to the idea that I still have light-years to go. I dragged a lot of junk out of the shantytown and let it air-dry, but so many things I’m reacting to are basically figments of my imagination.
In looking at other people, though, I wonder: isn’t that true for them, also? What are they doing with their lives? What is the point of it all? A lot of answers are really just placeholders for further activity, with a vaguely defined but ‘transcendant’ goal at the end: new job, partner, child. If you disallow placeholder goals – if you say, what you’re doing cannot justify itself from some imaginary future point, but must have value right now – it’s harder to come up with an answer.
To me it seems clear that you must meditate, or pray, or form the intention, or do something to bring clarity to the mind, and start putting some sort of rational structure over experience. It’s very slow and, in the beginning, not terribly satisfying going, but it’s doing something; it’s taking you somewhere. Alternatively, there are so many ‘time traps’ now, which just take and give nothing of value in return. Screw that! Yet they make billions. I don’t get it.
Let’s take a cliched example.
This guy worked hard to get what he got. Sleepless nights, personal sacrifices, etc. The details aren’t important, the product isn’t important; it’s just what he represents – a persistent inner drive to accomplish a goal, which went beyond money to inner perfection.
So apply that to personal development.
I don’t understand why no one particularly seems to care about perfecting themselves, to the extent that they can. You have responsibilities; you have chores. You have stuff you have to do. Subtract all that out; there’s still time left over. That time, you can apply it to projects, whatever you want. It can be anything at all.
Why doesn’t anyone try to clarify their mind, to try to make that as pure, as visionary as they can? What else is there to do in life? Aren’t you excited by that thought, the idea of perceiving reality as it is, without countless obstructions?
I mean maybe there’s something beneath this ordinary mind, that is mystical and transcendant. Consider the possibility. Maybe, in working at it and working towards it and attaining it, you can glimpse it, and then start to inhabit it, and finally, fully, express it.
And then… that’s when the magic part begins.
That is the Goal of the Wise, the reality that is to our conventional reality as conventional reality is to our dreams. Dis-illusioned. Inexpressible, really. But you can’t understand it until you’re closer than this, and this, right here, is nowhere near it.
I know that meditation is not the answer for everyone. I respect that it is an answer, that it does have an ambitious, non-numbing solution. People have thought about this, worked at it, and arrived at a prospective solution, and they get points for trying. The goal is to crack open your head, to show you how things really are without all those half-baked ideas that have accumulated over the years cluttering the stage.
It takes time, but then, that’s a testament to how much it recognizes what you have right now is not satisfying, and acknowledges that what would be satisfying, and more, isn’t in your grasp right now anyway.
Meditation is a serious attempt to get the answers, whatever they are. I wish other people acted like they cared too, instead of being content with being uninspired. I mean, ultimately, who cares about crap? Do you? That’s all we’ve been doing since beginningless time. It’s played out; even the people who’ve ‘won’ don’t value the game.
But if the goal isn’t all that special, then why not take that at face value and look for something that is? Why doesn’t anyone break their back and pull all-nighters to try to reach some kind of exceptional clarity? Doesn’t anyone care? The answer seems like ‘no.’ They could be doing other things. Yet they’re not striving for anything better.
So find something to strive for and do it with all your might, because that is what is best in life.