Why Understanding leads to Meditation more often than Meditation leads to Understanding

I was watching a Syd Banks video once  and he said something to the effect that “if you take a room full of meditators and a room full of people learning the principles, the room full of people learning the principles would “go higher”.

I remember thinking that a) that was a pretty funny thing to say and b) wondering why it might be true. While I know it’s not a real question (though it might make a fun game show… The Great Race to Enlightenment featuring all your favorite youTube stars!), I’ve come to see that the reason getting insight into the nature of thought can take you further than just meditating is simply this:

When thought looks real, meditation provides a respite from the constant but important things your thinking is telling you about the world. When thought is seen for what it is – the transient creative energy that is continually forming, reforming, and transforming our experience of life moment by moment – our temporary thought-created realities hold less of a hypnotic spell over our attention so we don’t need relief from the feelings of stress, pressure, and insecurity they create inside us.

In the same way as our brain will eventually and automatically tune out the background hum of the fridge or air conditioning or traffic noise, when it sees that the endless loops of our personal thinking don’t contain “urgent information that must be attended to for our survival”, it automatically begins to tune out the background noise of our own habitual thinking, leaving us in a natural state of meditation more of the time.

It’s something like this (but not this):

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful baby princess who was born in the palace of wisdom where her family had lived since before the beginning of time. Life was beautiful in the palace of wisdom, and it was rumored that you could spend multiple lifetimes exploring its heights and depths without ever running out of things to see.

One day, when she was around two or three years old, she toddled into a beautiful room within the palace that was filled with beanbag chairs and comfy sofas and a rug so warm and cozy it made you want to curl up into a little ball and go to sleep. On the wall there was a small television that was playing 24/7 in the background. The princess was fascinated by the room and by the flashing images up on the screen.

As time went by, the princess spent more and more time in the comfy room with the television on the wall. It was like an oasis for her – a place she could go and hide whenever things got a bit confusing or scary or just boring in other parts of the palace. Soon, she began to decipher the images and sounds emanating from the television until it felt like it was talking just to her, telling her all about how the world outside her really worked.

From time to time her parents would encourage her to leave the comfy room, but by the time she reached adolescence she was spending nearly all of her time locked into the seemingly endless parade of shows telling her absolutely anything about absolutely everything.  She binge watched some shows again and again – documentaries to keep her informed about the horrors of the world and the occasional soap opera (Real Housewives of the Palace of Wisdom was one of her favorites) to bring her relief.

The little girl became a young woman, as all princesses do, and one day she looked around and realized that the room with the television on the wall, which had once seemed so comfortable and pristine, now seemed to be smaller, smellier, and more confining than she remembered it being when she was young. So she decided to take matters into her own hands.

She had seen an infomercial while laying awake in the middle of the night about a guru with shiny hair and big teeth who had invented a magical remote that gave you more control which shows would play on the TV, so she sent away for his program and learned a system for watching more positive, life affirming shows and less negative ones. She was also excited about new research which showed how you could upgrade your television set by rewiring it over time, and she diligently set about making life in the television room more satisfying and fulfilling than it had been before.

But the more she tried to make life in the room more satisfying, the more frustrated she became, and the more shows she watched about how to improve her life by watching shows about improving her life, the less her life seemed to improve.

Then one day, the princess heard some music that seemed to come from somewhere other than the television on the wall. At first it just annoyed her, so she turned up the volume on the television set even louder. But then at a certain point, she decided to check it out. The first thing she noticed when she turned away from the television was that she couldn’t see anything at all. She was scared to move without knowing what lay in wait, but her curiosity overtook her fear, and she felt her way along the walls of the room until she found the door. Her excitement quickly gave way to frustration when she tried the handle and it wouldn’t budge. But after a few moments her eyes adjusted to the ambient light, and she could see that the door wasn’t really locked, it was just stuck.

She put her back into it and with a mighty tug, the door sprung open and the daylight which filled the palace of wisdom nearly blinded her. As her eyes once again adjusted to the light, she began to explore the palace. She saw that the music that had seemed like a distraction was coming from a choir which was singing heavenly sounding music in the very center of the palace.

From that day forward, the princess lived in a different world. While she still visited the television room from time to time, she spent more and more of her time listening to the choir and exploring the palace of wisdom. And while not all of her adventures led to places she wanted to be, living in the light streaming through the windows of the palace and the thrill of not knowing what new adventure each new day would bring meant that she lived happily ever after…

Have fun, learn heaps, and may you live happily in the palace of wisdom for all the days of your life!

With all my love,
Michael Signature