I went with my friend to the fortieth anniversary of Insight Meditation. Two of Insight’s founders, Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein spoke about their journey, which began in India in 1970, to founding the Insight Meditation Center and movement. As part of the event here was a question and answer period with the audience.
A Young Lawyer’s Motive to Practice Meditation
Among those who asked questions was a young man who introduced himself as an aspiring lawyer who worked in a highly competitive large law firm. He indicated that he had come to the event because he had heard meditation makes the mind much more disciplined and efficient. He saw meditation as an opportunity to get an advantage over other young attorneys at the firm, get promoted to partner and make more money. He then said he recognized his motivation to learn meditation revolved around gaining a professional or material advantage rather than “spiritual” growth. He asked if his materially-based motive was problematic and might impact his success.
Sharon’s Response, Meditation and Impermanence
Sharon’s answer was very interesting. She stated that it really doesn’t matter what his motives are at the present as his present motives were not that important in the large scheme of things. What was important was his decision to begin a practice. She reiterated that the fact that he made it to the event and to begin the journey should be his focus.
Sharon then gave the example of her motives for going to India in 1970 to learn about meditation. She went through the litany of changes in her underlying motivation over time. As she become more experienced in meditation and was able to look deeper into her inner-self, her motives continued to evolve and grow. She shared that her motives for continuing to practice meditation when she left India were different than when she arrived. Finally, she shared her motives for engaging in the practice over the last forty years and how her motives continue to evolve as she evolves and changes.
Her answer really got my attention as it reflects the Buddhist concept of impermanence. The present really only lasts for one second and then everything is subject to change. Just as the present is fleeting, so are our motives.
My Motivation in Recovery
When I first came into recovery my motives were desperation. Really, it was about surviving and trying to clean up the mess I had created for myself. Over time and as things improved, I started to embrace the process and actually enjoy it. My motives for remaining active in recovery changed as I was enjoying the process and was excited about learning new things. Over time, my priorities changed again to wanting to explore new areas of interest, namely nutrition and exercise and how those two lifestyle choices impact my happiness and sobriety.
My motive today for remaining active in recovery is to maintain my spiritual condition and to perform service in the context of sharing the Spiritual Adrenaline lifestyle with all of you. I recognize that I cannot keep what I have without giving it away to others. Spiritual Adrenaline allows me to engage in service and thereby help others and myself in the process.
As Sharon articulated so well and as confirmed by my own experience, motives are as fleeting as time and are impermanent.
My motive for remaining in recovery went from desperation to spiritual maintenance in five years and I am excited to see how it continues to evolve in the future.
What is you motive at the present? What was it when you came in? Has it changed and if so, why? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
I hope you enjoy this blog post and learned something from it. Please share your thoughts with me on this post and others at firstname.lastname@example.org.