Actor Keith Hamilton Cobb website

Lesson 2

Meditation is overrated…


…at least it is in the rarified form that it is sold to us.  When I say the word, does it evoke images of sitting cross-legged on the floor with wrists resting upon your knees, palms turned up with thumbs gently pressing second fingers?  I think there are probably only a few thousand people across the entire planet who can actually sit that way in comfort for any period of time.  I might be dead wrong about that.  I’m dead wrong about most truths, as you are, and every other one of the human species is.  But I haven’t met very many who could…  But more to the point, whether you’re forcing yourself to maintain uncomfortable postures while you try to achieve a state of nothingness or not, the court stenographer of your life that resides in your brain will begin reading back the transcript as soon as there is nothing more tangible to distract you.  This is a process of the human mind.  It will not go away.  You’re stuck with it until you die.  With persistence, you can for moments overcome it, and achieve the stillness where something that might slightly enlighten you lives, maybe…  But a truly meditative state, where you have completely turned off all of your mental processes, and you are actually engaging in productive communion with your “inner voice,” or better still, the silence is rare, and highly unlikely.

Many a mystic would refute this above, but not many of the fair weather variety would.  And yet, for those of us that persuasion, who really don’t want to wait it out, with our knees and ass-bones aching as we try to correctly breath the stresses away, while inner peace teases us from somewhere just on the edge of our human ability, there are things to consider.

Isn’t it all a meditation?  Or at least couldn’t it be?  That’s to say can’t we, at any time walk, talk, wash dishes or the dog, or engage in any other human activity with a greater awareness that we are up to something truly divine if in nothing else but our human ability to do it?  Can taking a shower be a meditation?  Can I refrain from wandering off into some thought of tomorrow just as a manner of killing time while I execute the mundane task of brushing my teeth, remaining instead in the awareness that I, unlike any other creature can do this with great facility?  Can I keep from taking anything for granted?

In the play, “Our Town” the playwright, Thornton Wilder says, “Does any human beings ever realize life while they live it…?”  I wonder that too, and I think not.  But the blessing; the mystic part of being a fair weather mystic generally means that we realize that we’re not realizing it.  And, in light of that slight awareness, it does, I think, make the most sense, to make that realization the crux of one’s practice, rather than to sit somewhere struggling towards stillness everyday while that life you’re not realizing is speeding by.

Don’t sweat this formalized amateur yogi shit.  If it’s not a grift ( and it’s not always) it’s a good way to distract yourself from the full-time awareness of the life and living that is the vessel for your being.  Your authentic self is not waiting inside some ritualized meditative practice.  It’s you.  You ARE the practice.  Just show up.  If you’re like me, that’s hard enough, especially when the weather isn’t fair.  But step by step, aware of each one—and I’m not saying that even this is an easy thing to do—will take you a long way towards keeping you open to the world around you, and, because you are then at least slightly aware, again, if you’re like me, it makes it much harder to be a dick and live with yourself.

This is not to say that if you’re a dick and you know it, you should beat yourself up about it.  But that’s a lesson for another day…

Meanwhile, there’s probably a better way to explain all that, but it’s what I’ve got.  Gimme a break.  It’s free.



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