Meditation and the Paradoxical Nature of Aspiration

I’m aware that I’ve chosen a quite big title for a small experience and thought I want to share, but it is one I keep coming back to, and which has right now been stimulated again by reading a book by Krishnamurti called Commentaries on Living (First Series). He writes about Humility, and virtues in general:

Humility is not an end result of spiritual practices and denials. Humility is not an achievement, it is not a virtue to be cultivated. A virtue that is cultivated ceases to be a virtue, for then it is merely another form of achievement, a record to be made. A cultivated virtue is not the abnegation of the self, but a negative assertion of the self. […] You cannot become humble. The very becoming is the continuation of self-importance, which conceals itself in the practice of a virtue. How strong is our will to succeed, to become!

That makes a lot of sense to me, and is actually what I observe a lot in the practice of meditation and spirituality in the west. At the same time, it clearly leaves the question: If you realize you are not humble right now, and are told there is no way of becoming humble, what can you do?

To me, while I acknowledge that from a purely logical point of view this is indeed a paradox, there is a solution in viewing our mental and emotional activity on two levels — that what our primary thoughts and feelings are, and our thoughts and feelings about these. The realization came to me in attempts at meditation, and at quieting my mind. I realized I could not do that, but I could at least be quiet about that, not have the second order reprimands on top of the incessant flow of first order thoughts and feelings. Now, of course, the magic is that the moment I realized that, the first order thoughts and feelings do begin to be more quiet also.

I believe and feel it works the same also for the other qualities that we aspire for — I cannot make myself be accepting of everything, but I can start immediately by being accepting of not being accepting. I cannot make myself humble — but I can be humble about the fact of not being humble. And so on. And for me, that really feels like how I understand Krishnamurti: it’s not a process of becoming, it starts with a sensation of realization that is its own fulfillment, even though of course it leads to a slow process of change on the first level of mind and emotion.

As a closing remark: Only in writing this I realized how close the title I chose is to what Gestalt Psychology calls the „Paradoxical Theory of Change“, which in more worldly but also maybe more complicated terms basically says the same thing: In order to change, we have to first accept what is.

Datum: Freitag, 25. Februar 2011 12:30
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