While meditating 2 hours a day for 6 years, I adopted some unhealthy patterns. I exercise less, spend less time developing relationships, go on less adventures, and I’m more passive when facing life’s challenges. By surrendering to dhamma, I surrendered control of my life and created an expectation that dhamma would fix everything for me. If life is simply the manifestation of my sensations, do I actually have control? Add that I’m dissolving my ego and the idea of self and life becomes pretty passive.
At the time I started meditating, my life was full of conflict and impossible challenges, and meditation helped me process this pain, find needed patience, and set my spiraling life in a positive direction. I owe a tremendous amount to my meditation practice, but I’ve surrendered too much. I’ve lost meaning and excitement. I’m not engaged in our worldly problems. I hoped that meditation would be the golden ticket to a better world, but meditation isn’t for everyone, and my current life isn’t a blissful example of greatness. I can’t simply hide behind my practice waiting for the world to become a better place, so what do I do?
I’ve been evaluating the importance of dhamma in my life. Why do I meditate and how does it make my life better? Is the purpose of my life to grow in dhamma and spread its teachings? How long was I simply checking the “2 hours a day” box without connecting my practice to my daily activities? How can I engage a world from the base of dhamma without proselytizing this technique which simply drives people further away from it? How do I spread love in communities that don’t relate to dhamma and meditation? How do I connect with meditators from different traditions without “mixing techniques”?
Years ago I pondered, “If dhamma is the greatest contribution I can make in this world, shouldn’t I become a monk?” My answer at that time was that I simply wasn’t mature enough in dhamma to give up the joys of a householder’s life. I’m also not interested in rejecting the population that has pursued spiritual paths outside of Goenka’s teachings. Dhamma has wonderful insights to introduce to my life, but I must also succeed as a husband, a son, a brother, a teacher, a friend, a community member, an American, and every other way h householder life demands.
My life must have balance, and to find this balance I must questions Goenka’s teachings. Instead of simply accepting and following, I must discover the appropriate healthy balance for my life. Maybe it was right for me to meditate 2 hours a day before but not now. Maybe I need to nurture my ego and community identity to sustain the confidence to engage life to the best of my ability. Maybe I need to focus on celebrating a little more and developing equanimity a little less. Maybe the dhamma path is a little too theoretical for me to truly engage it continuously in a healthy way. Regardless of the answers, I need to retake responsibility for my life and engage the challenges of the world to the best of my ability. I know dhamma has a role to play, but discovering how to create balance in my life is a new challenge.
Do any of you have advice regarding how to find a healthy balance between dhamma and your householder life? Or have you found a healthy and productive way to engage your spiritual community beyond Goenka’s tradition? I would enjoy hearing your thoughts. Time to meditate.