What follows is my all time favorite “give up and die” meditation, courtesy of many mystical masters. If done daily, you could become enlightened. (I’ve only done it, like, three times–hence all my problems).
The secret: It turns out you don’t exist. Everything about you is unreal or impermanent. So who are you? Once you figure that out, all your questions will be answered.
Let’s start with the body: Are you your physical body? No, all your cells will be replaced in seven years. In fifty or seventy years, your body will be much different–old and beat up and falling apart. If you lost your arms, or legs, or your ability to walk, if you became a paraplegic and lost all control, would you still be you? Well, of course. You can go from fat to skinny to broken to whole and still be you. So you are not your body. You are something else than your body. The body changes. You remain. Right?
Job? Don’t even get me started. Many of us think we are our jobs. But we’re not. We’ll quit or get fired eventually. Then what? You are not an accountant. I’m not a teacher (thank God). In fact, if you think you are your job, you better quit (read my post about quitting your job right now).
Ideas? Some people with very rigid beliefs think they are their ideas. I’m Catholic. I’m conservative. I’m a democrat. But this too is changeable. I’ve change my mind about a million things over the years. I once protested at an abortion clinic during my born-again phase in high school. Later, at the peak of my liberal phase, I joined Naral Pro-Choice. I can say The Rosary in the morning and be a convinced atheist by dinner. Most people don’t shift as much as I do–but we all change. We are definitely not our ideas.
Are you your relationships? I’m a father and a husband. But these will pass and change.
So what makes me me and you you, if we are not our bodies, our jobs, our ideas, our relationships? Are we a set of characteristics? At a eulogy, people often remember the dead as a set of traits like loving, friendly, full of life, a great guy or girl, a good dad or mother, a kind friend, and so on. So is that who we are?
Not really, because if we have to claim all our characteristics, then we are stuck with the bad stuff too: mean-spirited, obsessive, anxious, fanatical, dour, proud, and so on. We are not just a set of characteristics.
So what’s left? You are something, aren’t you?
Well, Korean Zen Master Paul Schwartz says we can become enlightened if we take ten minutes a day to sit in meditation and ask one question over and over: who am I?
I better get started.
Give up and die to the idea that you are just a conglomeration of cells, traits, ideas, and activities. You’re much more. You’ll be glad you did.
Go live wild and mystically.
Read more: Meditation is a Complete Waste of Time…you should try it or find a list of most popular posts at Start Here.