Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Meditation: Natural or Unnatural?

As far as we know, life began on Earth 4 billion years ago. As the aeons passed, plants and animals evolved, usually according to the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest," which ensured that only the strongest, fastest, best adapted, wiliest, smartest creatures survived and reproduced. Unimaginable millennia of evolution subsequently yielded a dazzling array of life forms, all struggling to survive, competing and cooperating, each with instincts embedded within them, driving them, in Tennyson's words, "to strive, to seek, and not to yield."

And yet, this situation sucks. Human beings are impelled, by these billions of years of evolution, to be dissatisfied with what we have, to want more, to over-perceive threats and act on them, to ignore what we mistakenly think is unimportant, to build and make love and achieve and flee danger -- only to recognize, sooner or later, that we can never win the battle. On the grand scale, we will all die, and lose much of what we love along the way. Yet even in our mundane lives, we lose the battle every day -- often in ways less tragic than comic. The damn webpage won't load, the mortgage has to be paid, the boss is a jerk, I'm a jerk -- every day, the God-or-evolution-given instinct to "want it all" butts up against a reality that rarely provides it. Life on earth is hard-wired for kvetching.

This is the core of the contemplative life: The completely natural state of affairs is one in which human beings cause suffering for themselves and others. And it's entirely natural; it comes about not because we're evil, or because Eve ate an apple in God's garden, but because we are animals living on this planet, and we have evolved to want what we can't get, and to run away from things we don't like. (MORE)

Source: Huffington Post

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