Monday, December 21, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 89, Part II

from Verse Eighty-Nine
If you want to be in emptiness, then you cannot be empty. When you do not contrive emptiness but are spontaneously empty, this is what is desired, and it brings everything. So communion with the Way is like the axle of a carriage, which does not move itself yet enables the carriage to travel thousands of miles, turning in an inexhaustible basis.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
I understand the above passage through the many years I tried in vainly to mediate. I would find a quiet place in our house, sit on the floor and say to myself over and over again, "Don't think about anything." Of course, thinking that sentence over and over again was thinking of something!

After awhile, it dawned on me that thinking not to think was thinking. So, as stated in the passage, I tried to concentrate on being empty. But that didn't work either because fixating on emptiness was still fixating on something and that something wasn't empty.

Another problem I frequently ran into was the random thought. There I would sit emptily and, then all of a sudden, a thought would inadvertently cross my mind. "Get out of there!" I'd scream. "You're messing this whole process up." Then I'd think about how the random thought needed to vamoose and this tended to cause another random thought to present itself!! Arghh!!

In time, I simply gave up on the whole endeavor. I figured it wasn't meant to be for a guy like me -- someone whose mind ran at one million miles per second. And so, I forgot about trying to meditate...

...and then one day I realized that I had been meditating for the previous few minutes. I now meditate (of sorts) a few times each day. It happened because I quit trying to do it and simply did it.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. Sounds like you stumbled across an important lesson. A technique I've employed is to let the thoughts exist but not to entertain their existance. To let them flare up and then die as they come and go. To proactivly "attack" thoughts are probably not advicable at all though.

  2. Focusing on the breath helps to put those random thoughts in the background. A little like when I suggested assigning pain a color. It moves you a step away from the thing.

    Personally, I need to meditate for at least 15 minutes.


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