The push of experience…

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]

8 thoughts on “The push of experience…”

  1. Life is momentum. How do we avoid the push? I can not step aside from this push, but an NDE or a spiritual high can give us clues to the answer.

  2. Interesting juxtaposition of a couple thoughts in this post Katinka. If we all feel “pushed” to “experience” an NDE, and embarrassed if we haven’t, what is the perspective of folks on this particular aspect of the NDE from folks who have experienced it?

    I can only speak for myself, having had multiple experiences that were either NDE or a state of connection similar to the NDE. From my perspective, those experiences have helped to form the belief that most of us are probably walking past or through the chance to participate in these experiences often. Ironically, I also think that TRYING to find them makes it harder to feel or see them. (Look at it and it’s gone, right?)

    I’m thinking it’s not the experience itself that we’re usually really after, but the checkmark on the life-list beside the name of the description. We don’t see the difference, and feel when we get the checkmark we feel like we must have had the experience, even though all we got was the checkmark.

    Does that make any sense? You allude to that in your post a bit. Why do we not get the sense of fulfillment from the thing we just experienced? We got the checkmark after all, right? I think it’s because we’re not really giving ourselves to the experience, we’re just making sure we get the checkmark.

    Applies then to the vacation thing for sure. People speak of “doing” this place or that thing on their vacation, which I think speaks volumes. Even the word implies “doing something to” rather than “being part of” or “listening to” or “taking something in”.

    Thanks for the thoughts – think I’ll expand a bit and refer back to this post as the inspiration.


  3. Obviously what bothers you is being “pushed”. Of course! I resist such pushes myself.

    This is not to say that I have never benefited from being pushed .

    But experience IS something. After an “experience” one has a different understanding of it’s context that before, sometimes one even has context where it was lacking. The difficulty lies in designing experience to reflect desired wisdom. Perhaps, to know how to do so requires us to have already acquired the appropriately applicable wisdom.

    Arranging for an NDE, as promisingly enlightening as one seems to be, is, of course, exceedingly difficult. At least, the “near” death part. Both death, and life are amazingly easy as an immediate choice. One can envy an NDE, but deliberately acquiring one requires extremely rare skills, certainly beyond my ken.

    The stakes are also more tenuous when there is no guarantee that an NDE will enhance your life, or your perceptions, in any case. My guess is that you have to be prepared for any instance that provides for some degree of satori. If the mind/soul/whatever has not made the necessary pre-connections/karmic-balances/whatever, the illumination at the end of the tunnel is not yet achieved, no matter how one is pushed.

    Your post inspired me to a few ramblings, I hope not unwelcome.


  4. I rarely feel pushed by others anymore (though I used to much,) and maybe not by myself. I certainly have desires but do not feel extremely controlled by them.

    NDEs can probably be like some meditation–once in meditation I experienced being illuminated consciousness with no bodily sensation, so what I would say if I had a coma is irrelevant. Maybe if I had not had that experience I would be able to answer.

    Maybe I push myself to become a good scientist, but it is more of an intellectual goal with many justifications. I used to want to become a monk, which had some justifications but was also about being pushed to achieve spiritual virtue, and now I would not even want to become a Buddhist monk (except maybe a ngakpa, depending on their restrictions, which may be almost none–they may not all be monastics.) The main reason I would have wanted to is a humanistic intellectual/spiritual goal similar to being a scientist, but I would not want some restrictions anymore.

    If someone feels pushed to experience, does that mean having desires and thus suffering? According to Mahayana, bodhisattvas still undergo the effects of samsara.

  5. Katinka,
    Excellent question. Yes I feel pushed, but pushed from within.

    In my early 20s, I didn’t know what meditation was, but it sounded cool so I hoped to one day learn how. In my late 20s, I learned a simple meditation technique and immediately fell into a trance and saw a vision of the future – a future with a bad outcome. When that future came true, it took me another 10 years to find the courage to meditate again. At that stage, I thought the only point of meditation was to see visions of the future, so eventually, out of curiosity, I started meditating again. Finally, I stumbled onto Buddhism and discovered many other reasons to meditate including: thought control; connection to source wisdom; and, rejuvenation from source energy. Immediately, the visions changed to more positive or instructional images.

    In a truly meditative state, the feeling has sometimes been so incredibly joyful, it’s better than walking on air. That being said, in five years, I’ve achieved that completely blissful state only a handful of times. So at this point, meditation is a bit like golf. Just one great game keeps you coming back for more. The end goal: Enlightenment! That’s what the push is about for me.

    Vacations? Give me a beautiful warm sunny beach any day. We’re all so different in our personal preferences aren’t we? Light, Love and Joy, Elizabeth Rose

  6. For me, it’s not the people in society who are pushing for experiences, it is my spirit guides. Through an accident almost 4 years ago, a NDE, my life changed. I experienced my soul leaving my body and viewed the accident and everyone around me. At this moment, I knew that you are your soul! It’s not a separate part of you.

    My vibration level heightened, I know things now. Coming out of an evangelical charismatic church, it was very scary! After about a year of trying to get through it, I met a woman, who is a close friend now. I had a reiki session with her and wow! Now, I participate in meditation groups, have become attuned and am a reiki practitioner. Life is good and we are here to help one another LIVE.

    I don’t like to have people do as I say, but learn to make choices that are best for themselves. For me it is all about meditation, but sometimes things happen in our waking, day to day lives and we must take notice.

    My husband doesn’t quite understand what I’m going thru or what I’ve become, but he is accepting of it. For that I am thankful! We are each individuals and occasionally something happens that changes our lives and I am forever grateful… I’m just so excited that I have put on my big girl panties and become truly unique. And so be it.

  7. When you know Who you are and not What you are, then you know what you really want and need in your life. Once this happens and you choose to live by your want and needs, you can’t be pushed by society norms. That’s the great thing about spiritual awakening, it teaches you of your true self. If you know you don’t want a mortgage, then you know your options are to stay at your parents, rent and/or save enough money to buy property cash. We are our choices. I think people have forgotten this. It’s interesting that in winning freedom, we have lost it. The worst part is instead of someone forcing it from us, we willingly gave up our freedom. The only thing that has changed is the packaging of the master/slave-owner.

    I do however believe spirit guides can push you into experiencing things that you had no intention of experiencing, as Jeni wrote above. That aspect of life you can’t control. Though i do believe as one climbs the evolutionary ladder, one gains more freedom from control by the non-physcial aspects of life (spirit guides, karma, Ets, stars and planets…).

    I don’t consider NDEs to be a spiritual status symbol. Just like any experience, you can either choose to learn from it in order to enlighten your spiritual/mystical self or you can choose to continue developing your physical self. And to have NDE expectations when in a coma or from a coma patient who has woken up one, well that’s just fooling yourself into believing everyone is the same, with the same experiences. And from what I am gathering from your post it seems NDEs are now being used to create a supriority-inferiority complex. Or maybe I’m gathering wrong…

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