Last night I experienced the deepest meditative concentration I can remember… while watching a TV show.
It’s shocking to me how readily my mind becomes absorbed in total television fantasy, even after repeated examination of its barren value and years of abstinence from it. Alas, I have not for a day gone sober from my own day dreams, so it should come as no surprise that I get hooked in to the imagination of another.
I wonder what great use of my life I could make if I engaged my thoughts in understanding the nature of reality or developing love and compassion with as much gusto as I think about the characters and plot of the newest detective thriller?
What if I give up on, “Oh, where’s he going? What’s that shiny thing in the clock!? No way, look at that!!!” Then follows all my proliferation, imagining what I would do were I the protagonist (and of course, I’m always the lead star).
What if I focus instead on, “How wonderful it would be if everyone in the universe had everything they desired and experienced unceasing joy and peace of mind! What are all of my fellow beings experiencing right now? What are Congresspersons feeling? What are the birds and critters in hibernation feeling?
“What is going on with the mother in poverty watching her twin babies starve to death? What is going on with the mother in spiritual poverty, so obsessed with being the best and acquiring the best that she barely has a moment to watch her children? May all of these people and all beings be free of every form of suffering!”
Today, I’ll reflect that I myself am a conditioned phenomena. I will exert myself to not succumb to the easy path of hypnotic boob-tube trance. I’ll use my capacities for the path of intelligence and altruism. I do not want my mind to atrophy!
And if I become skillful in reflecting on the dependently arisen nature of phenomena, then even an activity as mundane as watching TV becomes cultivation of wisdom.
I won’t just see the show. I’ll see producers, writers, directors, actors, cameras, lightboxes, computers. I’ll see inventors and engineers, laborers in China and Korea, miners digging up metals, and workers extracting and refining petroleum. I’ll see trends coming and going and blends of humor getting concocted. I’ll see bands of light entering an iris and projecting colored wavelengths onto rods and cones, and the meeting of the object, the sense organ, and the consciousness, producing a subjective perception.
Today, I’ll bring this type of awareness to bear on whatever my mind encounters. This will allow me to avoid getting sucked into the vortex – and it’s not the vortex on the TV screen that’s really a problem; those are just shapes and colors. It’s the vortex of my own delusion and unawareness that grasps appearances as existing independently, from their own side, that I seek to demolish.