Monday, May 2, 2011
With a Swiss Army Knife, you notice 15 different tools immediately, even if it takes some time to understand how to use them properly. If you spend enough time using it, you'll master all of its functions.
The mind is similar, but has an added twist: most of its layers of complexity are hidden until you start looking for them. If you haven't spent a lot of time introspecting, you may not even realize that there exist many knobs and dials that subtly control your emotions and behaviors. Once you start getting your hands dirty, not only do you notice that there's a lot more going on in there than you thought, but the controls you found earlier start looking different.
I think this is partly why meditation is not more popular: if you haven't spent some time trying it, the claims of its value may sound exaggerated and perhaps mundane. Many people seem to think of it as just another form of relaxation, or as a crutch to avoid the difficulties of the real world. The idea that perception and experience can be fundamentally changed by "just sitting there" is, admittedly, pretty strange on the surface.
But I guess that's what makes it so fascinating. I can't think of another machine I'd rather tinker with.