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Meditation and Lifestyle
Tracy: Dearest Ram, right now in my life I’m feeling particularly frustrated with the householder’s life. There never seems to be enough time to tune in, meditate, etc. I have more of a need to meditate these days and feel a hollow feeling sometimes until I do. I’ve meditated almost every day this week for at least half an hour, but need to do so for an hour because my mind is so busy for the first half. I have a really bad headache right now and tried to meditate, but it’s the same.
Ram: Meditation doesn’t work unless you have the right attitude toward life. The right attitude is essentially a religious attitude. You see that you are part of a great creation and that you were put here for a reason and that you have a role to play, a role that is not self-assigned. You understand that things don’t happen because you want them to happen and you’re cool with that. So when things come or don’t come you do not get bent out of shape. You remain calm. You understand that at any moment you are getting what you need whether or not your ego-wants are being met and you are happy with it. If you have this attitude then the mind becomes meditation-worthy. You can’t keep thinking like a worldly person and expect meditation to help. What’s undoubtedly causing the agitation are your views about life, particularly actions and their results. I don’t think you’ve realized that the results of your actions aren’t up to you. I was watching an interview on TV with a fellow about airport security, and he said, “Why should I get upset over the waits? I only worry about things I have control over.” When you figure it out that what happens is not up to you, you relax and take what comes, good and bad, as a gift from God. The purpose of this attitude is to neutralize the likes and dislikes which are agitating your mind, causing the headaches, keeping you from enjoying a relationship with a man, etc. If you don’t examine your views and unhook those that are creating emotional conflict, how is meditation going to help? It will be as you describe – treading water. You will end up spending most of the meditation clearing out the agitation that you are producing away from the seat of meditation.
Tracy: Anyway, what you said in your last letter about how I keep saying I want to meditate and don’t hit me hard in a good way. Maybe that’s what bothers me about Jack. I criticize him for not being on a spiritual path – the one that I want to be on and am not on myself half the time. Jack likes Eckhart Tolle’s book, so I’m going to give him his own. He’s an unusual person, and I have many questions about him, but also have some kind of strange connection with him. I have to take it where it will go. It’s all a mystery to me. Like you said in your email, I am looking at him through my vasanas. What I want to know is, doesn’t there have to be some way that we are more attracted to one person than another?
Ram: Sure, it’s the vasanas. If you have a vasana for black people, they will be attractive to you. If you have a vasana for rich guys with big muscles, they will seem attractive to you. It’s your wants that make people either attractive or unattractive. It’s pretty superficial but nothing wrong in it. What I’m saying is that on the level of wants and people, things are always changing. When you get what you want in a person, you don’t stop wanting things from that person. You keep right on. So you put the person in an uncomfortable position – keeping you happy by satisfying your wants. And since they think like you, they expect you to fulfill their wants – which may involve doing things that you don’t like. And the person is changing too, not to mention the relationship, so there are many uncertain factors working to either make or break the relationship – so you end up in a more or less constant state of anxiety. Even thinking about a relationship produces anxiety in you, not to mention the real thing. This is not because there is anything wrong with you or Jack. It’s just the nature of samsara. Thinking that it can be different is a problem. It can’t.
Additionally, both you and Jack are a combination of positive and negative qualities. Even if some things are acceptable, other things aren’t, so there is not going to be peace, particularly if you expect him to “change,” i.e. get rid of the things that irritate you. And if you expect him to change it is only fair that you change to please him. Are you willing to make the changes he wants? I think you can see where this is heading. Wouldn’t it just be a lot simpler to love him unconditionally, take him as he is? And at the same time insist that he love you unconditionally? Unless love is unconditional it is nothing but a lot of problems.
I’m not saying don’t have a relationship. I’m suggesting that a relationship does not solve the fundamental existential problem. It may temporarily solve some emotional problems, but it will also create new problems. This is so because you are the problem. You don’t seem to be able to just let things be and enjoy them for what they are. You want it a certain way. And the sad fact is that life really doesn’t care how you want it. It is going to give you what it wants to give you whether you like it or not. You consult the stars because you want to know what life is about to throw your way. So if you want to have a nice time in this world you need to be ready to take its disappointments as gifts. You need to understand that behind every pleasure there is a pain. There is no nirvana here. It is a mixed bag. It has always been a mixed bag and it will always be a mixed bag. So you are not going to get over on yourself by having a relationship or by not having one. Wouldn’t it be more profitable to ask yourself why you think that a man is going to make you happy?
I’ll end on this dismal note – I know you do not like this idea – and sign off with love.