In 2017, Robert Wright published a book “Why Buddhism is True” . In this book he described the paradox of meditation, which I have had for a long time.
He said: “There isn’t supposed to be success at meditating. As any good mediation teacher will tell you, if you talk about mediation in terms of success or failure, you are misunderstanding what mediation is.
I would not advocate mediation if I did not think there was something people could achieve by it. Granted, it may be best for people who are meditating to not think about succeeding , but that is because thinking about succeeding gets int eh ways of success. Granted, if you do achieve meditative “success”, that may lead to a new frame of mind that is less caught up in the pursuit of success that your old frame of mind – less relentlessly focused on achieving certain kinds of distant material goals, more aware of the here and now.
In sum, you can best achieve success at mediation by not pursuing success, and achieving this success may mean caring less about success, at least as success is conventionally defined. “
As I mentioned before, I started meditation because that I was motivated by several books, which described the beauty of meditation.
I think the major paradox came from the wide spectrum of meaning of “Success”. There are too many complexity of this word “success”. If we define it as “fully-focused”, the logic of “meditation and success” may become easier. Therefore, “meditation” is the practice or process; “success” is the goal of meditation, which is fully-focused.
In ancient China, a person raised a monkey. He fed the monkey 4 nuts in the morning and 3 nuts in the evening. The monkey was sad and cried. So the person gave 3 nuts in the morning and 4 nuts in the evening, the monkey was happy. The person easily outsmarted the monkey with “3+4” and “4+3”.
At the first glance, this story showed the monkey was silly and did not know how to count. Going deeper, there is a possibility that the monkey had specific preference. Interestingly, I found I am like the monkey.
After the 10-day vipassana meditation course, I decided to practice two 1-hour meditation each day. For me, to mediate everyday is not very hard. As long as I schedule it on my calendar, I follow it pretty well. My challenge is to sit through the full hour.
At beginning, I arbitrarily thought too many “ding”-intervals over 1-hour mediation are distracting. Therefore, I set the timer to ding once at 15’; when it finished at 1 hour, a finishing bell rang; i.e. a 15’+45’ model. Pretty quickly I heard 15’, but when I was in the 45’ session, it was a little bit too long. I felt like it was endless and boring during the last 10 minutes in some day.
After 10 days of this model, I reset the timer to ding once at 45’; when it finished at 1 hour, a finishing bell rang; i.e. a 45’+15’ model. Amazingly, I felt much better. It did not take too long for me to hear the “Ding”; it was not too long to hear the finishing bell. It seems my monkey mind, like the monkey, loves this new 45’+15’ model.
This is my beginner’s experience on daily practice. How about you? Can you share your experience? What model does your mind follow?