Thursday, April 15, 2010

Suicide by sport, or the only way to "live"?

(WQ) Extreme sports provide the adrenaline rush an endogenous-addict needs. Endogenous means the chemicals are coming from within -- adrenaline, oxytocin, norepinephrine, DMT, and compounds infamous illicit drugs (like cocaine, heroin, and LSD) mimic.

Craving and attempting to feed starving brains and nervous systems, deprived of adequate amounts of these compounds, one undertakes mindbogglingly difficult and dangerous stunts. Lamenting failures and miscalculations, one grieves for a long time (much longer than this life). What if such exalted states were achievable without the risk?

The strange behavior of ascetics -- fasting, meditating, focusing, and extreme austerities -- also release these substances. But with meditation one is able to control and extend the states achieved, be it absorption (jhana), joy (piti), bliss (sukha), or transpersonal knowledge-and-vision (insight). Most people settle for the controlled rush of fear from scary or stimulating movies, the mindless abandon of stupefying drinks and drugs that lower inhibitions one cannot lower otherwise, or the vicarious watching of extreme sports.

Might meditation, as tedious and boring as it appears from the outside, be more enthralling and more beneficial? Why else would people sit and keep sitting? It might be good to try both say, for example, meditating at Coachella (or one's own local Woodstock-style festival).

Humans crave alterations of consciousness, even as children spin themselves and adolescents experiment with everything they can get their hands on, and adults bring themselves to ruin with. And meditation has provided such alterations even before the Buddha's rediscovery of enlightenment.

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