Thursday, 12 February 2009

The (Not So) Little Gremlin Named FWI

I was in a bookstore the other day (again), flipping through a book (again). A meditation caught my eye. I forget the details, but it went something like this:

- Focus on the room around you. Contemplate that eventually it will be collapse.
- Focus on the people you know. Contemplate that they will fade away from your life.
- Focus on your body. Contemplate that eventually you will grow old, and die.

I'll stop there. Not the cheeriest of meditations, I think we can say. Rather made me wonder what the point was. I can see the hypnotists throwing up their hands in horror at the mental suggestions this will be giving to the subconscious.

However, on further thought, I believe this piece has value. Much of daily human life has its hustle and bustle, but not basic sanity. We get caught up in this busy-ness, the insanity of it all, and don't realise the subtle but (usually) ever-present mental distress until it develops into "stress" or "breakdown". Even then, most cures treat the symptoms, not the cause.

Okay, Kaye. I'll bite. What's the cause?

Lots of names for it. I don't want to name it by any of the traditional ones, so let's call it FWI. FWI is present when we hiss in frustration at the crowd on the Tube. FWI is present when we hope to get that raise. FWI is what makes us spend dinner hating the boss. FWI is the little gremlin who teases us in dreams and invades our daydreams. FWI is stress. FWI is tension. FWI is dis-ease. FWI is Fighting What Is.


Okay that was probably bad naming, but it got you to read, didn't it? We FWI when we do anything that stops us from being completely present in the moment. And it arises because we have a fundamental dissatisfaction, a deep argument, a fight to pick, with what is happening at this very moment. Want me to prove the point? Take a very deep breath and exhale. Yes, right now. Got it? Okay? Okay.

Now, notice what you experienced during the breath. Probably thoughts of "What's he on about?" or "What's for dinner?" Did you notice the experience of breathing itself? Did you notice the moment beyond thought, beyond description? That's enlightenment in a breath, that is. And you probably didn't experience it. Why? You FWIed.

Okay, let's say I take your point. What's the cure?

No real need to cure it. It's just a different experience. It's noticing that we are run by our thoughts. But if you are really interested in the experience of EJI, then that meditation at the beginning is one way. We FWI because we have a sense of individuality. We want things to be a certain way, or we don't want things to be a certain way. If we're upset, there are really only two causes. Wanting, or not wanting. What's beyond that? Nothing. And everything. That is the experience of EJI. Everything Just Is. (Hum, maybe I should change the url of this blog. Nah...)

FWI dies a natural death when we realise that everything is cyclic, that life itself is impermanent. That life gives way to death, that riches and poverty interchange, that fame only coexists with obscurity. Common wisdom, but who has the courage to take it to its conclusion? When you do, up is as good as down, for it just is.

What's so great about it? It just is. It's always there. And it's a different experience from FWI. Am I advocating EJI? Or am I on FWI's side? Neither side is better. It's just more interesting when you get to peek at the cards on both sides.

Photo courtesy of

No comments: