Yes, that title is enigmatic and for the linguists among you: a bit double as well. It has to do, I’m afraid, with the limitations of the English language – or possibly of my knowledge of it. Though I do rarely run into that problem these days.
Anyhow – the question is: do you all feel pushed into having experiences? Like: the motive for meditation isn’t that you know it’s right for you, but that you keep hearing people talk about it?
The motive for going on holiday isn’t that you want to go, but that NOT going would be too much of a statement? Research shows that a substantial number of people actually aren’t happier on holiday than they are at home.
There are lots of fields in our lives this applies to. When you buy a new car: do you look at price, gallons per mile or whether that car ‘feels right’?
It’s all about experience. The experience of meditation. The experience of going on holiday (and coming back to talk about it and answer the question: what did you do on holiday?). The experience of driving the right car.
I certainly felt pushed to do meditation. I was like: I can’t afford NOT to meditate, because after all I write and lecture about spirituality. So I did for a few months. But when sciatica intervened a few months ago I decided that my physical health was more important and that getting out of the house twice a day was enough of a challenge. Since I don’t have a car any trip out of the house is actually exercise. Dutch public transportation makes this an option.
Do you feel pushed? I was talking to someone the other day who said: Being a kid was so much better: there wasn’t as much responsibility. Which is true of course. Adults have to do their taxes, have to pay the rent or the mortgage. But the thing was, the examples she gave were all avoidable (at least over here). She said: as an adult you have to have a car, a house with mortgage… and she felt trapped: she had been admitted to art school, but was also holding down a full time job. A job where she had been managing people, but those people had been fired. In effect she’d been demoted without the difference in salary.
I sure don’t envy her. But it’s a familiar picture for many of you I’m sure. And the pressure of debt (aka mortgage) has become very visible in the past few years.
The sociological change is from having to marry, to not staying a virgin.
From making a living, to feeling right about your job.
From going to church every Sunday (very public and social) to meditating
Perhaps, in our field, the most enigmatic of them all is the Near Death Experience. It’s become a status symbol. There’s the expectancy of a life transformation after having an NDE. But as one lady told me who had had a NDE: the spiritual transformation afterwards doesn’t always happen. She hadn’t become a saint through her NDE she said, though I’m pretty sure (from her behavior) that she had become more generous. But then I hadn’t known her before.
Would you dare say you HAD NOT had an NDE if you’d been in a coma?
[All this inspired by the Dutch book ‘De Druk van de Beleving: filosofie en kunst in het domein van overgang en ondergang’ by Gerard Visser, a book that compares the philosophers Nietsche and Dithley and the more recent sociological research by Schultze]