Meditating In A Results Based Society

Meditation results is almost an oxymoron. The moment your trying to achieve something through meditation, you’re craving and therefore heading in the wrong direction. Meditation is about being present with this moment, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, and accepting it. So how is a meditator supposed to function in this results based society?

I think this might be one of the major reasons meditators discontinue their practice when they return home. Most jobs are based on getting results so you push forward to achieve them. If you’re pushing forward at work and then try to sit on the pillow in the morning and evening your mind just keeps spinning. Eventually you wonder, what is meditation doing for me besides taking up my time? When you can’t articulate that instantaneous result from meditation you stop.

But meditation isn’t like a job. Living with a meditation practice is a way of life. You become less attached to those results and less motivated by achievement. The very things that drive a results based society become unimportant. So can meditation and results based occupations coexist? I don’t know.

Vipassana is about changing the habit pattern of the mind. Maybe by extension it’s about Vipassana meditators changing the habit patterns of society. Instead of corporations being driven by money, maybe they can start being guided by dhamma. But I can’t help but think that once a company loses focus on the drive for money that they’ll be outcompeted and go out of business. In the same way, I wonder if a meditator who has lost his/her drive will be outcompeted and lose his/her job. It’s that fear of failure that convinces us to continue working hard in a system that we know isn’t sustainable.

So how can we make a positive transition? Is it really just a matter of more people incorporating meditation into their lives? Money follows what people want, so once a majority of people want what’s best for society over personal gain will we see a shift? It could be argued that people do want what’s best for society but they just don’t know what that is. Business owners are creating jobs that help people  feed their families. Now I’m getting onto another subject of right livelihood but they’re interconnected.

Ending with my initial point: I’m not sure how someone sustains a serious meditation practice and a results oriented job. I think if we could figure this out we would be able to help many more students maintain their daily practice. Any ideas?

2 thoughts on “Meditating In A Results Based Society

  1. I know Goenkaji talks about this when he tells the story of his teacher, whose practice allowed him to be super-productive at work. I think it has to do with having a heightened ability to focus and a more balanced mind. One would assume that these two things together would lead to increased productivity – and not only that, but better efficiency, creativity, etc.

    You bring up a really interesting point here, of whether or not we should separate the way we think at work versus on the cushion. I suspect we’ll be better off bringing them together. When we’re at work, maybe we should try to think more like we do when we meditate. We still know that results are important, and we keep these in mind for practical reasons, but we focus completely on the task at hand, calmly and without reacting. Just like meditation – you know that there is a final goal, and that you’re doing this for a reason, but you don’t worry about it. You have task, which is to focus on your body sensations, systematically. At work, you also have a task. Focus on the task! Here you have deadlines, so you need to keep the results in mind when you plan your day, but once within a task, there’s no difference.

    In summary: the problem is that people start to focus on results when they meditate. The solution is to learn how to put results in their place. They have a place at work, but they are not the most important thing. You can’t achieve a result without giving attention to your tasks. See how your work is like Vipassana, not how it is different.

  2. Ellis Pheng

    How about go back to being “equanimity” ? Don’t expect any results, and merely observe. Why complicate things?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s