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Mental disobedience

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

Meditation is a training in mental disobedience, based on four main points:

(1) Keep the context in mind. Don't focus on things, don't focus on objects, contents, on what is in front of you. But do keep in mind the context in which all of this happens. What is this context? The body for instance. Why is that so important? Because the body reminds you of its uncertainty, and hence of the uncertainty of anything else that is built upon this condition. Knowing uncertainty, you know that appropriation is doomed to fail, it works as a delusion at best. The context determines the meaning of anything else that happens within it. Keeping the context in mind shapes how experience is interpreted and understood.

(2) Don't be afraid. Most ordinary habits are related to some form of fundamental fear. Fear of lacking things, fear of facing things. But basically, fear of uncertainty. There is nothing to be afraid of in uncertainty. To see why, one needs to undergo a certain exposure therapy, growing progressively more accustomed to observe uncertainty, understand it, get to terms with it. And then, one can see that there is nothing to be afraid of in it.

(3) Don't play the game of greed, aversion, and ignorance. These bases of actions are scripts for a game, which is most often played in interactions with others. The game is neither beneficial for oneself, nor for others, hence it is best avoided altogether. When someone asks you to play greed or hatred, just don't take up the invitation, don't play. This is another game, the game of non-greed, non-aversion, non-ignorance. That's worth playing, and fun.

(4) Give it back. What? Everything that has been unduly appropriated, taken for granted as 'mine.' Instead of taking, just give back. This is no surprise. Training begins with generosity (dāna). It aims at countering appropriation (upādāna, 'taking up'), and culminates with letting go or 'giving back' (patinissagga). This goes beyond particular objects or contents, but it encompasses the most intimate and precious components of experience (the five aggregates), including consciousness itself. All these elements are naturally impersonal, they belong to nobody. Giving them back means stop appropriating them, stop steering them, stop pretending that they should serve as materials in 'my story' (most likely, 'my drama'). Just leave them there. Ordinarily they are caged in structures of desire, and fear, and ignorance, like animals in traps. Open the cage, let the animal run freely away, back to its wilderness, until the cage is empty, and the problems are gone.

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