I ride a big motorcycle, and my motorcycle has cruise control. Sometimes, if the highway is straight enough and smooth enough, and there’s little traffic, I take both hands of the handlebars and just sit back and let the bike ride itself. Maybe you’ve done the same thing on a bicycle, but I’m doing it at 75 mph on the Interstate. Just like with your bicycle, I’ve discovered that the gyroscopic forces of the two wheels of my bike will keep the bike straight up and going in a straight line for miles and miles, usually with nothing more than a gentle shift of my weight in the saddle to make small direction corrections.
Am I a daredevil? No, not really. I’ve discovered that the laws of physics are riding the bike, not me. I just add some inputs to accelerate, steer, and brake, but 99% of the time the bike is doing everything itself. I’m just along for the ride. Could the same be true in life?
How do we know what’s true?
For centuries people relied on religious and royal authorities — priests and kings — to explain the world they lived in. These authorities invariably used these explanations to justify their own authority, creating a self-reinforcing circular logic.
The past 400 years or so of human history have seen such authority erode, to be replaced in part by scientific authority and ideas about the freedom of the individual. Science has explained a lot about the world, but it still has many big questions that it currently cannot answer. At the same time, individuals now have unprecedented freedom to decide life’s big questions based on their own authority, even if the decisions are not always very well informed.
Meditation is life in microcosm. Expect to feel every human emotion when you sit. Many folks come to meditation expecting to find relaxation or peace or bliss, and are surprised to find sadness or grief or anger instead. You will meet with all of your demons as well as your angels. Do not grab on to the good feelings or chase away the troubling ones. Do not even try to figure out where they come from. Just sit quietly and observe them as they come, stay for a while, and go … and come … and go …
The basic instructions for meditation are really quite simple:
1. Sit somewhere
2. Focus your attention
3. When your mind wanders (and it will), return to Step 2.
Yes, it’s really that simple.