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Sitting Still ...


(Adapted from a previous essay I wrote on 6/5/02)

Although I believe that meditation can happen anywhere, while we are doing anything ... usually Buddhists (and others) associate meditation with sitting still, in a quiet place, away from activity ... doing nothing!

Some Buddhists like to "practice" this meditation every day, for 30 minutes or more. Monks do it all day, with a couple breaks for food and tea.

Many believe that this meditation forms the core of Buddhist spirituality.

Which means ... that the core of Buddhist spirituality is doing nothing, nothing at all, just sitting still. They couldn't be more wrong ...

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Sitting still is a fundamentally different approach from that of the Protestant work-ethic, in which we are given gifts by God so we can busy ourselves with making the world a better place ... or, at least with getting ourselves into Heaven.

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And there are awful problems facing humanity (and other species, and the global environment). Why should somebody spend his free time just sitting on a cushion, doing nothing, when he could be making the world a better place?

Well ... because sitting still does make the world a better place ... because it is often the frantic pursuit of fulfillment that causes so much pain and anguish and suffering ... because there will be pain and loss anyway, even if we try very hard to avoid it ... because every time we solve a problem, or fulfill a goal, we discover that we have more problems and goals ahead of us ...

Because life is lived in the now ... and efforts that focus on the future often end up sacrificing the present moment, when the present moment is the only moment that anybody can actually enjoy ...

Furthermore, meditation in and of itself can be joyful. Via meditation we can learn that we don't have to be doing anything in particular to be happy or content.


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