writing on suffering and awakening

Meditate and destroy

I used to have a twelve-step sponsor who wore a t-shirt that said “Meditate and Destroy.” It was a bit tongue in cheek—he was a really gentle guy. I don’t usually use words like destroy myself either.

But meditation is about destroying delusion—the state of not seeing things as they are—and I think we could all use more of that right now.

Most of us delude or lie to ourselves a fair amount. Some of these lies are about our specific life circumstances: for example, we might tell ourselves that we like our job when really, we don’t. 

Others are more fundamental, not about circumstances but about the very nature of living. Deep down, we all know that we’re aging, dying and have nothing to hold on to. That’s just the way it is, but most of us try desperately to convince ourselves otherwise and to feel some sense of control over the cosmic and uncontrollable. Ironically, this is what causes the suffering.

The more we sit and practice getting quiet and letting go, the more we can come face to face with these truths and make peace with them. The more we make peace with them, the more we can realize they’re not actually a problem—a little wizard with a big shadow—and that we don’t need to be afraid. The more we see that, the more real power we have.

Those of us living in America know our country is a mess right now. Elections are the better part of two years away, the news alternates between grim and grimmer and there is a palpable sense that we’re veering into some really dark stuff.

What better time for each of us to get some real power?

I recently recommitted to a daily meditation practice. Nothing fancy, just ten, maybe twenty minutes at night before bed. I turn out the lights and sit on the couch and try and bring my attention back to my breath, over and over again. I don’t worry much about whether I’m doing it right—I’m probably not. It’s okay.

I’ve meditated on and off for years, and have struggled to stay consistent, but I feel a sense of urgency driving me now because I know it’s not just for me. I say a little prayer before I start: “May this practice benefit all beings.” I say the same thing again when I close. Sometimes I see specific people’s faces in my mind’s eye, and I pray for their well-being and abundance. It’s a small act, but one that carries the potential for radical change and I can do it every day. 

We can do it every day. 

Anyone who meditates or prays or just tries to get quiet—or anyone who wants to—know that we’re in this together and we can make a difference. We can see life as it is and find the peace and joy and power that comes with that, and we can share it with the world.

Ian Cooper