Nothing to Achieve
Earlier this week I was listening to a radio comedy (the wonderful Cabin Pressure) and one of the characters started singing the old song "We're Busy Doing Nothing." You probably know it, but the lyrics go:
We're busy doin' nothin'As a kid I loved this song, but something about it always felt a little, well, subversive. As a fully paid up member of the Type-A club I was taught (and believed) that happiness came from industry and application. Singing about doing nothing felt quite 'naughty.'
Workin' the whole day through
Tryin' to find lots of things not to do
We're busy goin' nowhere
Isn't it just a crime
We'd like to be unhappy, but
We never do have the time.
The problem with the way we focus on achievement is that we are always striving. This in itself is a form of clinging - to some unknown future state where we will be 'improved.' This is most famously expressed in the story of the Fisherman and the Businessman, where the businessman exhorts the fisherman to work hard to grow his business into an enterprise so that he can - eventually - retire and enjoy exactly the life he has right now.
We can make the same mistake with our meditation, by striving for some kind of achievement and clinging to an ideal of a state we want to get to. We might see others who we assume are further along on their path and be envious of their achievements. We might beat ourselves up that somehow we haven't achieved the level of calm that we think we should have. In short, like the businessman, we cling to some imagined future and ignore where we are right now.
So our best approach to meditation is to let go of the focus on achievement and to just 'be' with how we are and where our mind is. To sit and enjoy the now.
With this long weekend I'd like to encourage you all to achieve nothing. You never know, by doing so you might not have the time to be unhappy.
Below is a fully guided audio meditation on having Nothing to Achieve. A few of us have committed to press 'play' together at 7pm PT on Sunday 6th September - you are welcome to join us if you wish.