Liberate Your Mind
To meditate, in standard English, means to think about or reflect upon. The usual usage nowadays is spiritual, so we can say to think about spiritual things or to reflect upon them. It is to muse. The thinking implied in the word meditate is not necessarily sharp or deliberate. It includes musing. Musing is a particularly important activity. I encourage everybody to muse. Don’t get carried away by all the enthusiasm these days for trying to be in complete control of your mind. Give it some freedom. Let it roam. Practise musing.
From “musing” we get “amusing”. Things are amusing when they bring together things that are usually seperate or that highlight some disjucture or awkwardness. Wouldn’t it be amusing if Donald Trump chose Monica Lewinski as his running mate? Wouldn't it be amusing if Leicester City won the football league - well, it would have been thought amusing a year ago! Wouldn’t it be amusing if you could turn a tree upside down and sit in its roots and sunbathe? Wasn’t it amusing when that man visiting his relative in the psychiatric hospital met the head doctor and thought that he was one of the patients? Things are amusing when they break the rules. It is an effort for us to keep all the rules and when we break them, actually or vicariously, even merely mentally, we experience freedom. Energy is released and it comes out as a smile or a laugh.
Musing on things, whether amusing or not, is creative. Most of what we create is pure phantasy. We do not need to take it seriously. Indeed, the art of musing requires that we not get too serious. When we are musing we are opening ourselves to the Muse, to a divine spirit of great importance and power. To dismuse oneself is death to the spirit. You cannot be really spiritual without musing.
These days, too many supposedly spiritual ventures seem to be intent on getting rid of musing. They advocate hard attention to supposedly real things existing in the present moment. This is spiritual materialism. Real spirituality requires an open mind that is not limited to any particular time or space frame, but can wander in the great beyond, carefree and truly free.
In grammar, there is a mood of verbs called the subjunctive. It is rapidly disappearing from the English language, which is a great shame and loss. The subjenctive appears in sentences like “Were I to go to Moscow…” “Were it the case that cows were pink…” “Were I rich…” Musing takes place in the subjunctive. It is close to day dreaming. One should have many dreams. I have just corrected it but in writing the last sentence I made a typo and typed freams. One should have many freams. Of course one should. As many freams as can be. As many freams as you can generate with a freamulator and we all have freamulators in our heads. And not just in our heads. You can freamulat with your toes too, you know.
To muse, one needs a certain quantum of idleness. This is why it is frowned upon? Well, evidently, because if you have too much of it "the devil makes work for idle hands to do." However, some of that devil work can, sometimes, be converted into celestial flowers. That is real spirituality.
The way to keep a modern population under control is to keep it fully employed, and when it is not employed, keep it attending to mindless entertainment, and make sure that no body steps out of line by keeping everybody in debt. That is how modern society operates. Spiritual people have always been those who stepped out of that frame.
Drop out and muse. From that musing may come new civilisations. Shangri La. Shambala. Utopia. Why not? Step out. St Francis did it. Buddha did it. Honen did it. Jesus did it. None of these people lived conventional lives. None of them paid a mortgage or a student loan. St Francis stood naked in the market square rather than do so.
In my life I have paid some mortgages, held down some regular jobs, had high and low salaries, and tried a goodly variety of careers. I have, however, always managed to keep a sense of amusement about it all, a little distance that has given freedom. If there is no space, there is no liberation and that space is pre-eminently in the mind.
Meditation can mean many things. Often, these days, it means to discipline the mind into some protocol or other, or else to empty it by cultivating a habit of dismissing whatever arises within it. I do not think that this is always wise. It is like throwing what the gods give you into the bin. No, better to muse. Sit in the sun and speculate. Allow yourself a bit of craziness. Learn to smile and laugh again.
Draw. Sing. Compose. Speculate. Explore the absurd. Imagine. The main purpose of many Mahayana scriptures is to fill the imagination with spectacular imagery. Generate worlds of offerings and be immersed in tsunamis of blessings. Musing benefits from stimulus.
We should be able to understand from this that spirituality is not just about deliberate control. it is about seeding the mind with many beautiful flowers and enjoying them growing.
Inhabit many worlds. Imagine being a coal tit sitting on a branch in the walnut tree - how enormous the world is! Imagine being a bamboo stalk waving in the wind. Imagine being the wind travelling all the way from pole to pole. Imagine being a penguin, shuffling along with an egg on your feet. There is a universe in every stone.
Study and learning is closely associated with musing. To study, one has to imagine and the things we learn feed more imagining. When this is not happening, learning become a drudge. Many people have been put off learning by having their imagination stifled.
Our house is made of stones. However, through learning, I know that those stones - limestone - are actually condensed skeletons of little creatures that lived whole lives in seas that no longer exist. This place, was once beneath the sea and crawling with trilobites - little fellows a bit like some of the creepy things that still live here now. They are the original owners of this land. Every stone contains a whole universe of life. Learn and muse, Muse and learn. And let it all amuse. Then life will be light and we shall all be enlightened, at least a little bit - and a little is enough for now.