I would like to explain the structure of human lives as I see it, in order to understand the place of “meditation” or “contemplation” in our lives. I try to do this explanation to myself every so often, because one tends to get stuck in a rut and an ideology about “the meaning of life.” It is good to re-clarify, to re-explain, to re-articulate and to clear the cobwebs in the mind. Frequently we need to take a deep breath and look at our lives afresh.
Most of us would agree that we seek happiness in some form of the other. We tend to locate the source of this happiness in other people, or in work, or in leisure pursuits. We also try to find security in “becoming” a person of some importance, or power, or a better person or a more spiritual person.
When these strategies fail, as they often do, we turn to other partners in the hope that they might be more fulfilling; other jobs, for the same reason; other spiritual practices, ditto. Most people I talk to about their lives say: this is natural. The quest for the better is natural; so is the dissatisfaction with the present. Without this dissatisfaction, there would be no movement, no progress in life.
Having gone through many such cycles (rejecting one life situation for another), I now tend to disagree with this view. I feel there is a structure of dissatisfaction and restlessness in our daily lives, in our egos, and that we must try to learn about this structure. This learning is what I would call “meditation,” a close, dispassionate observation of our daily emotional patterns, with the view to understanding them and potentially dissolving them.
This close observation is not a narrowly selfish pursuit. Our destructive emotional patterns are, collectively, what have structured society as a whole. Our learning about ourselves and our inner landscapes could potentially have the widest possible impact on social norms and values.
This, in brief, is my interest in meditation. This is the theme I will stick to as closely as possible in these pages.