After finishing my meditation lesson yesterday, one of my students noted how they always felt they experienced reality differently after a deep meditation. While reality usually felt quite bland or flat to them, after a good meditation, he said everything felt richer, deeper, more three-dimensional and solid. As we had just done a meditation on the nature of emptiness, I was quite surprised to hear him use the word ‘solid,’ until I realized he was talking about The Thingness of Things: a phrase I use which describes experiencing each thing and phenomena exactly as it is, at its utmost blistering intensity.
Most of the time, we only relate to things and phenomena in a very half-assed and dispirited way. We pass a tree we walked past yesterday; we greet a person we see every morning; we unknowingly hear a birdsong that follows us everywhere we go. Because these things have become habitual for us, we treat each of these things – the tree, the friend, the birdsong – as though it is something static, stuck in time, that can never satisfy or delight us. Because we have seen it a thousand times, it has become dull, mundane, and humdrum according to our benumbed senses, always looking for new pleasures, new experiences, new desires.
The tragic thing about this view is that it is incorrect. Every moment is new, every moment is unique, every moment has its own special character that well never be repeated ever again, not even if infinity were to bend over, poke its head between its legs, and eat its own scrotum. Newness is the fundamental nature of each experience – always new, always shocking, always vibrant.
So why don’t most us feel that vividity and uniqueness? It is because of our habituations, and how we have allowed our insecurities to mute the palette of these rich, vibrant moments. We claim we want new, exciting experiences. But most of us are terrified of change, and of anything that threatens the illusory security of our habitual routines. To really experience the uniqueness and freshness of each moment would mean being open, vulnerable, receptive, insecure – it would mean letting down the barrier of our cold comforts, erroneous certainties, and beliefs, and instead just letting things be as they are.
Shine/shamatha meditation teaches us to do this. By mindfully resting in the uniqueness of each moment, without weighing it, analyzing it, or assessing it, we no longer fear being afraid of the startling shock of every moment. This, in turn, effects how we experience reality, post meditation. Each moment, each second becomes like a new century, a new epoch, which disturbs and delights us with its instantaneously known unknownness. Colours become more colourful. Every touch becomes more erotic. Sounds become more soundy. Even things that usually annoy us suddenly become palaces of wealthy delight that cause us to loosen with fertile appreciation.
All this spell-binding depth and luxury can be returned to your reality, just by learning to be still, and rest with all of your feelings and thoughts.