Thursday, March 15, 2012

Here in my car: meditation and driving (video)

"Family Guy" (video); Kalyani and Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
Meditating while driving? It depends on what one thinks "meditation" means (

Can someone meditate while driving a car and not crash? If meditating is "blissing out," or distraction, then no. But if meditating is an ordinary state of mind -- a fourth state, serene, freed of distracting thoughts -- then the answer is an emphatic yes.

By sitting in stillness -- just sitting, free of thinking, worrying, stressing, or looking for something to stimulate and amuse our overtaxed sensory apparatus -- a wonderful bliss can blossom. As one approaches absorption due to the presence of the "factors of absorption" (jhānaṅga), the absence of the Five Hindrances, even a head on collision could be viewed in perspective. It's nothing to get hung up on. It's something to prevent but nothing to get hung up on.

Meditation is the opposite of distraction, whether driving, talking, or breathing, one remains aware. Even if the mind drifts off, one is aware of that as it happens.

After the ecstasy, the laundry. Before enlightenment, chopping wood, collecting water. After enlightenment, same thing. Meditation (bhavana) means cultivating the heart and mind. This can mean the development of compassion, which can be done at any time, or training in insight.

"Zen" moment? This is the opposite of meditating-while-driving

Insight (vipassana) is "seeing things as they really are," which overcomes discursive thinking in favor of direct knowing or what is loosely translated as "intuition" rather than cogitating. Direct knowing is not mediated by reasoning and doubting, pondering and being perplexed. It means investigating in a systematic way AFTER having developed serene states of absorption (jhanas, zens, dhyanas) that one can enter and emerge at will.

Be mindful -- simple bare awareness of the mechanics of driving. Be serene -- enjoying the wonder of this very moment without getting lost in thoughts about it. Live it. All space is here, all time is now, so be here now. Drive.

Approaching a car in this way will lead to much greater ease and appreciation of time spent on the cushion even if that cushion is behind the wheel. But what about the distractions? How to remove distracting thoughts?

Ferrari owner in trouble over Web video: A doctor in Japan faces possible jail time after posting a clip of his sports car in action dangerously (but probably very mindfully) zipping down highways.

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