How to live well, without “meditation”

You can live a very good life without meditating (as we have come to know the term). It is doubtful however that you can live a very good life without being meditative.

You see, there is a difference between ‘meditation’ and being ‘meditative’. You do meditation while you are meditative. The exercises you are familiar with in ‘meditation’ has the sole purpose to help you reach a ‘meditative’ state. Merely doing meditation therefore doesn’t necessarily mean that you reach a meditative state, you can naturally also reach a meditative state without doing meditation.

Actually doing anything many times hinders more than it helps. That’s because there is a natural pulse or rhythm to life, that can be likened to sitting by a small, clear brook in a forest and letting everything just be, or flow. Reaching this meditative state involves a process of letting go, and whatever helps us let go is what we refer to as meditation. And whatever happens after we have let go, that’s when we are meditative.

For some, as soon as they enter nature, read inspiring literature, write, journal, make love or run they become meditative. We all have our own ways to get to a place where we just let life be.

Closing you eyes and watching your breath therefore is just one path of letting go, of letting life be. But far from the only one.

Why we seek happiness so strongly

We seek happiness so strongly because we seek for ourselves so strongly. Happiness comes easy to a child, but as you grow up there is a growing sense of having lost something you’ve always had, yourself.

A wise person once said that

we’re not homesick to a certain place, we are homesick to a way of being.

And that way of being is yourself. And the further away you are from yourself, the more strongly you will seek happiness.

One of the first things we do when we realize that we are ‘far from home’, is to start looking for directions. Society, friends, family provide a lot of directions, but as most people are lost themselves, their directions take us even further away from ourself, not closer. Prestige, status, beauty, financial freedom, bigger cars, bigger homes are all things that everyone tells us will make us happy.

What we realize however is that no matter how much we follow these directions, no matter how much we indulge in pleasures (things external to ourselves), they don’t bring us lasting peace, and we aren’t any happier.

That’s when think that going the opposite direction will take us home. So we run away from society and all its demands and delusions, we starve ourselves of all pleasurable things of the world, to just sit quietly and breathe.

If we are lucky we realize that home is everywhere, home is where the heart is, it’s just that for so long you haven’t been in touch with it.

You also realize that there’s nothing inherently wrong with cars, boats, houses, wines, jewelry, penthouses and Kobe beef – as long as you don’t take them for directions home. These are just roads of life that lead nowhere, but with scenery and vistas that you may enjoy. After all, your home is in your heart, and your heart belongs fully immersed in the world where it can do some good, not away from it.

How to find a place in this world without becoming a monk.

Closing our eyes and being silent and looking at the world and being silent are two very different things. The silence we’re looking for has nothing to do with inactivity or the lack of sound. The silence we’re looking for is silent action, an indifference, detachment, indiscrimination to outcome. Like the one necessary for Japanese Calligraphy.

Silent, graceful action is only achievable if some inner battle is won even before it begins, much like what Sun Tzu mentions in the art of war.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

So what’s this battle? The battle is with what intention you enter the business of the world. Do you seek to win? One way of looking at this is that the time is right when the mind is right, and the mind is right when the heart is right.

You can have as much success with getting in touch with your heart by reading poems, as with meditation. Both are tools by which you dissolve mind, fear and ego.

A monk therefore is like an athlete who never enters a competition, a warrior that never fights, and spends his whole life at training camp. His retreat from the world is mere practice, an attempt at get in touch with his heart, but no way to live, the real test comes when he re-enters it.

The secret to being in the world but not of it (or silent action) lies in self-realization, the realization of love, our true nature, either by means of poetry or meditation. That way we can be more graceful, and silent in the world, no matter rank, occupation or family situation. Being a monk is the easy way, mastery is not found in the monastery, it’s found fully immersed in life.

Why some chose an ascetic life

People choose to spend their lives as hermits because they think it will make them happy.

The hermit pulls away from the world. Thinking that renouncing it will also rid them of the unease that comes with it.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the hedonist, who tries to drown his unease with pleasures. He does not pull away from the world but abuses it.

It’s the most deprived that become the most indulgent. People from poor backgrounds who win on the lottery also become the most indulgent with their wealth. Not to talk about sexually deprived catholic priests. : /

Similarly, it’s the overworked, burnt-out CEO’s and other ambitious people who want to become hermits and meditate all day.

Both asceticism and hedonism are extremes, desperate ways of searching for lasting peace and happiness.

True happiness however lies in neither in denying or indulging.

It lies in awakening a heart of love and gratitude, that’s the middle way.

Where we are not clinging to the world like a hedonist does to his pleasures.

Neither are we denying the world and all its pleasures.

The only benefit asceticism affords you, and which is its true purpose, is that it offers you less distraction from the things that try to pull you away from awakening a heart of love and gratitude.

Why we pretend to be happy

I live in Prague and every now and again I meet tourists who are lost. Some pretend that they aren’t, even if you can obviously see that they are.

Why do they pretend? They pretend because they believe something is wrong with them, that they’re a fool and they don’t want anyone to notice.

The problem however is that it’s never anything wrong with them, but with the map they’re using. It’s either insufficiently detailed, or they’re merely disoriented by holding it wrong.

Life is a journey and when we’re deeply unhappy we pretend to be all fine for the same reason. We hate to look clueless and confess to ourselves (and others) that we’re lost, when in fact it’s nothing wrong with us but the map to happiness we’re using.

“Truth” and why conspiracy-theories often involve alien or reptiles

I met a drug dealer once in a bar in the US and described him to my friends the next day as a hyena-like type with sneaky smile, thick throat and flickering look. To which they all laughed, and felt was “spot on” because they all knew him.

People have probably always kept a watchful eye on others don’t seem to have the best of the group, village, team or country in mind, but rather act out of self interest. Historically, these have always been described as something not really human but rather inhuman, predator-like, blood sucking or as some kind of reptile. Disney for example often uses metaphors to describe different types of people and human behavior. Robin Hood is a sly fox. The king’s calculating but cowardly helper is a snake. etc.

Regarding conspiracy theorists, that’s exactly what they’re doing. He / she sees destructive forces in society and often expresses these through metaphor that speak some truth, even if what they say is not true in a rational, objective sense.

The story of Snow White is obviously not true, but can still speak the truth about human jealousy (and a lot of other things). Similarly, a power-hungry, predator-like group of reptiles that play with and exploit ordinary, vulnerable, hard-working humans can speak a certain truth.

Looking at Hollywood, I think this feeling of powerlessness for the inhuman (the Predator?) runs as a backbone through all human storytelling whether including tales like Little Red Hood or Erin Brockovich (Lonely mother fighting big corporate), Sleepless in Seattle (Small book store fights against major corporate), Ratatouille (Small rat fights against oncoming frozen food empire), Wall-e (Earth and and greenery against AI and machine).

We see the same theme in all art and storytelling, as well as among eccentric conspiracy theorists – the small human against the big and blood sucking. The human versus the less human.

In fact, for a predator (Great White, Lion), a person is reduced to calories, or fuel. In society, you may similarly feel reduced to fuel for other people’s predatory instincts, perhaps as a consumer, employee, slave, prostitute, instagram or spotify musician – you’re something to be utilized, consumed and spit out when exhausted. And the analogy of being lab-rats on a Alien mothership (nothing but an older version of the Matrix-story) is probably something that will increase among conspiracy theorists (and in art) as that’s how it feels in today’s algorithmically controlled and digital society. The “Mother Ship” is Silicon Valley, the “experiment” is our screens, dopamine and behavioral-science – to the extent that many in the valley don’t let their own children use many of the behavior-optimized technologies that they themselves developed. They simply keep their own children away from the predatory, blood-sucking “beast” they created.

The drug dealer I met at the bar likewise had something very well-studied and calculating, almost prowling in his behavior that to me instinctively aroused machine, robot or predator images. Of course, wasn’t a Hyena, but according to my friends, that picture was more true than the objective and scientific description of his height, weight and hair color.

How to conquer your mind

Have you ever seen the show the dog whisperer with Ceasar Millan?

Your mind is much like the dogs in his show. Not calm assertive, dominant but aggressive, anxious, lashing out.

Dogs get that way when their master, or “packleader” lacks authority. The same goes with your mind. The master of the mind is the heart. If your heart lacks authority, your mind grows increasingly fearful and anxious.

What makes conquering your dog (or your mind) so difficult is that you think he is the problem, not you. You think your mind is the problem, not your heart.

Trying to control your mind without heart is as futile as an owner trying to control a misbehaving dog.

Like dogs, your mind finds peace when an authority steps in. A dog finds peace by being ‘calm submissive‘ to that authority.

Your mind needs to submit to the heart to find peace. Be its servant. Not its ruler.

How to become successful

As success is the completion of anything intended, I’d first and foremost make sure that you in fact aren’t already successful.

I gather from your question however that you aren’t, and therefore would suggest to start intending small things and see if you can complete them, like combing your hair or take your dog out for a walk. If you are successful at these, I’d suggest to move on to bigger things, like to paralell-park or be a host of a dinner-party.

Once you’ve made a habit out of completing what you set out to do, that’s when you can start calling yourself a successful person. And then you just go on from there.

How can I get wealthy

You change your mindset by acknowledging that you are wealthy in things that matter. You see, beyond food, roof over your head and various practical needs, money is merely a means for achieving certain feeling-states, often fairly fleeting.

You get a certain watch, car, apartment, vacation as they make you feel a certain way. You see, things in themselves have no value beyond what we give them. If it wasn’t so, everyone would feel the same towards a Ferrari, Oysters or a vacation in Paris. But we don’t, far from it. Now, you better ask yourself if there isn’t other, more accessible routes to achieve these states of feeling without having to acquire all these things. And there is.

One of these ways is to practice gratitude in the sense that you list and connect with a sense of love and gratitude towards various things in your life. Noticing the blessings you already have attracts the feeling of wealth you are looking for, and the best thing, it’s all for free. : )