Selling meditation as a key to success destroys meditation. If your meditation is directed at achieving goals, you’re only strengthening that part of you which is forever unsatisfied, forever seeking outside approval, forever chasing after money and power. You’ve discovered an even more effective way to ensure that you’ll never be happy, never be balanced, never have any kind of peace.
Brad is specifically chafed about the way meditation is now being sold as yet another Think And Grow Rich. I always felt like the audience for such things consists of two kinds of people: those who already have everything most people could ever want and yet it isn't enough, and those who want to be in the first category.
The only thing meditation can teach you, from what I've experienced, is that you are not what's in your head, that you are not the sum total of your desires, and that you need constant maintenance (read: meditation) to keep that in perspective.
Your desires are lying to you. That's their job. Your job is to not let them delude you, because your real business is elsewhere. Your desires are part of that elsewhere, but they're not the whole of it. Not even close.
An example from my own life:
Like a lot of you, I have an Amazon account. Like a lot of you who have an Amazon account, I have a Wish List. Actually, I have a veritable baker's dozen of wish lists (that's "twenty" for all you whippersnappers who haven't gotten off my lawn already). They're organized into a whole bunch of categories that aren't likely to make sense to anyone who isn't me, which is kind of the idea. Every now and then when my birthday or a holiday looms, I pop something off one of those lists and shove it into the one public list I have.
That one public list is almost always empty.
I make a point of keeping it empty. For one, this forces me to think about what I actually do want, not just what seems like a nice idea.
After I moved, I got rid of a staggering amount of stuff, and I was constantly surprised by how strong a resistance I had at first to giving up any one piece of that stuff — and how in time it proved to be easier than I thought to knock down that resistance.
What helped most was testing my desires ruthlessly against reality. I've read that book once. Did I enjoy it? Sort of. Did I plan to read it again? Probably not. Was it even any good as a piece of reference material? Not terribly. Is it hard to reacquire in the (now seemingly unlikely) event I would want to give it another two hours of my time? No, not really. Okay, out with it.
I do feel like my curiosity about Japanese movies, etc. is genuine, in the sense that I can do something transformative with those desires. I don't simply consume things (or so I tell myself); I use them as fuel for creative work. I can write about them, or I can study them for specific details worth researching further.
See, I've never believed myself to be a particularly materialist person. I have no interest in the latest model car or what have you. But all that meant was that my materialism came in another form, one that was more tightly coupled to the creative parts of my personality, and thus harder to see for what it was.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind