“Always meditate”

An offputting cliché

Another cliché I hate is, “Always meditate.” As in—

Remember yogis, meditate throughout the day in your daily activities!

The problem: How the fuck is this any different from—

Be self-conscious in parallel with your absorbed or “first order” consciousness. You do X and in parallel be aware, “I am doing X.”

This is the Satipittana Sutta practice that has become so incredibly popular these days thanks the the spread of Burmese mindfulness meditation in the West. University of Virginia School of Medicine, UMass Medical School, UC San Diego, University of Minnesota, UCLA, UCSB, and dozens more have dedicated Mindful Awareness Research Centers.

But the Satipittana Sutta practice is not merely—

When you experience X, be aware that “I am experiencing X.”

It is horribly difficult and painful and shocking if you do it properly. The technique is not to prepend the “I think …” to your actions. It is, rather, to fall into your guts and let all the floodgates open and be washed away. It is to leap into intentional passivity, to dissolve into maximum receptivity. Presence and affirmation are connected. Being aware of the feelings you actually have, that you are actually undergoing, is related to affirmation, but not just affirmation. It is a kind of extinguishing of all:

Insight is the understanding of the true nature of things by which a complete transfiguring of mental life takes place in the seer and by which he is lifted out of the groove of birth and death. The understanding of the nature of things is the sure knowledge of the transience and subjection to sorrow of all component things and of the emptiness of all things as regards ens, self or essence. This last knowledge of the essential emptiness of all things is called the realization of the supreme void. By it the conception of a self and the craving and suffering which spring from that conception are abandoned. It marks the limit of the spiritually attainable in the Buddha's Dispensation. By it is accomplished emancipation from all bondage to ignorance and the attainment of the highest happiness. In the Way of Analytical Knowledge (Patisambhida Magga) it is said: "What is the supreme void? The quieting of all kammical conformations, the giving up of all clinging to rebirth, detachment, cessation, Nibbana — this is the supreme void." The Way of the Arousing of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Magga) is for reaching that summum bonum of the Buddhas.