illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
We live in a web of conditions and conditionings, so where can we find freedom?
We find freedom in choosing our conditioning. For example, we can pick whether we train in martial arts or not, and although the response when attacked will be 'automatic' (untrained panic, or trained response), we will have chosen this response in advance. We can even pick either a 'destructive' / 'offensive' martial art (aiming to 'win', e.g. krav'maga), or a 'defensive' martial art (merely aiming to 'block' the fight, e.g. aïkido)… The automatic response is still an expression of choice. You can actually choose to protect yourself and others in a non-destructive way!
To make a choice, we need at least two options (that do not lead to the same consequence). Most of the time, our brain rushes into any 'solution' we conceive first, regardless of the problem at hand. So to find freedom, breathing instead of rushing is a most powerful tool: it gives time to let other thoughts —i.e. other options— arise.
Is "taking a deep breath and observing" a conditioned behaviour in itself? Sure! Does it offer you freedom elsewhere, by offering you choices instead of a one-lane highway? Sure! So you can condition yourself to be free: you can condition yourself to take a deep breath whenever you feel "there's only one way." Learn to meditate!
It will make "being free" a reflex! Any contradiction is in your 'logic'!
As with martial arts, it is not when you 'need' it that you can 'train,' it usually is too late for that. You will not master meditation if you think of it only when its benefits are needed. You need to drop the utilitarian view.
Simply learn to meditate, for what it is. Choose to. Yes, consequences will unfold from this choice, but the consequences will arise when the conditions make them arise. You may train in martial arts and never ever need the skills in the streets; would the 'never' be a bad thing or a good thing? You may train to use the emergency brake when driving; would 'never' needing the skill in practice be a bad thing or a good thing? Maybe, at times, you might be free without meditation… but the choice you face is about training, not about circumstances you do not control.
#buddhistcircle #Buddhism #Dharma #meditation
[ photo: Japanese snow monkey in hot springs at Jigokudani monkey park in Nagano, © ]