Insight Meditation-as-goggles, for the water we’re all swimming in

One of my favorite overviews of why insight practice is helpful is given by David Foster Wallace, called This Is Water.  It was a commencement address, delivered at a Significant Occassion. If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it now and I’ll wait.

DFW, in the way only he can, DFWs the topic. He does the best job I’ve seen of laying out how our minds can create an augmented version of reality that prevents us from actually seeing what’s going on, instead forcing us into simply relating with our minds. We don’t see reality, or, the reality we think we see isn’t real. It’s an augmented version of the real thing, in which our biases and beliefs and prejudices warp reality like a funhouse mirror until there’s no way of telling if the color green looks the same to you as to your friend. These days, there’s a lot of evidence that it does in fact look different, and we’ve codified the dynamic as Alternative Facts.

Neither facts, nor alternative facts, are real. They’re real, refracted by water that remains invisible-influential unless and until you look.

Seth Godin wrote about this the other day as well.  Mostly in regards to cultural influence in America, with an undercurrent of systemic racism, although he didn’t mention it directly.

No matter who you are and where you’re coming from, you’re swimming in water.  The key is seeing that water for what it is, and for the characteristics it has. Characteristics which until you see them for the water they are, you think are your own. 

Racism. Prejudice. Self centeredness. Competition. Ambition. Hope. Winning. Righteousness. All of it, water, and more.

That’s where insight meditation practices are uniquely suited to the task, as they show us our automatic mental patterns.  They show us the water, and thus revealed, give us the opportunity to step outside our conditioning and choose our actions consciously.

If you have not yet tried insight meditation practices, subscribe to my blog and I’ll give you some resources to see your own matrix for what it is.

Insight Meditation Book List
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