ENLIGHTENMENT ACHIEVED BY A PROCESS OF UNDOING RATHER THAN DOING
Three giants making the case for mindfulness/arriving where you are...
"Going nowhere, as Leonard Cohen would later emphasize for me, isn't about turning your back on the world; it's about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.
The idea behind Nowhere - choosing to sit still long enough to turn inward - is at heart a simple one. If your car is broken, you don't try to find ways to repaint its chassis; most of our problems - and therefore our solutions, our peace of mind - lie within. To hurry around trying to find happiness outside ourselves makes about as much sense as the comical figure in the Sufi parable who, having lost a key in his living room, goes out into the street to look for it because there's more light there. As Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius reminded us more than two millennia ago, it's not our experiences that form us but the ways in which we respond to them; a hurricane sweeps through town, reducing everything to rubble, and one man sees it as a liberation, a chance to start anew, while another, perhaps even his brother, is traumatized for life. "There is nothing either good or bad," as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "but thinking makes it so."
As America's wisest psychologist, William James, reminded us, 'The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.' It's the perspective we choose - not the places we visit - that ultimately tells us where we stand."
- Pico Iyer
"Meditation does not involve trying to change your thinking by thinking some more. It involves watching thought itself. The watching is the holding. By watching your thoughts without being drawn into them, you can learn something profoundly liberating about thinking itself, which may help you to be less of a prisoner of those thought patterns – often so strong in us – which are narrow, inaccurate, self-involved, habitual to the point of being imprisoning, and also just plain wrong.
Another way to look at meditation is to view the process of thinking itself as a waterfall, a continual cascading of thought. In cultivating mindfulness, we are going beyond or behind our thinking, much the way you might find a vantagepoint in a cave or depression in the rock behind a waterfall. WE still see and hear the water, but we are out of the torrent."
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
“We take it for granted that we need to take showers, clean our houses, and wash our clothes. We’d be uncomfortable if we didn’t, to say nothing of being the object of social criticism. Yet, the mind and its thoughts need cleansing, perhaps even more than our bodies. The mind works longer, encounters wider dimensions, and runs the operating system of our life as well! While few of us would consider eating dinner on yesterday’s dishes, we think nothing of tackling a new problem with yesterday’s cluttered mind…
Just as love is a difficult concept to describe, yet intrinsically part of a natural, healthy state, enlightenment can also be thought of as a natural state, and equally difficult to describe. In this way, enlightenment would be achieved by a process of undoing rather than doing. We keep ourselves from enlightenment by our own mental blocks, just as a roof blocks the sun from shining down on us.”