Why do we practice Mindfulness? This is an important question because it seems that we are still very confused about its real goal.
So many of us still believe that the aim of Mindfulness or Meditation is to attain a certain experience. A specific, rare, exotic, other-worldly experience, a spiritual experience, something which will shift us from the mundane to the divine.
And so we practice to attain some kind of lasting transformation, perhaps a permanent experience or state which we can “hold onto.”
This popular misconception finds its way onto facebook too where we can see all kinds of adverts for “special” forms of meditation or technology which allow us to access “mind-blowing” experiences which no other system can.
“Why would I sit patiently observing my breath, when I can have “That” experience” we may wonder.
We chase the highs in our ordinary lives and we chase the highs in our spiritual lives too.
And as long as we believe that the goal of our practice is to have a certain kind of experience, we will remain addicted to seeking, to grasping, which is the very antithesis of freedom we long for.
I meet many people with decades of practice who still feel disheartened or confused because they have not yet had the special experience they are striving for.
“I almost had it.”
“I’m getting nearer.”
“I had it, but I lost it.”
This is a merry-go-round which can be difficult to jump off.
Here’s my perspective:
We don’t practice to have a *certain* experience. We practice to know the *nature of experience* itself.
A state of mind is just an experience, a thought is just an experience. Calm, focus, energy, healing, shifting, astral travel, lucid dreaming, awakening, are all just experiences.
And what do experiences do?
They come and go.
That’s it. Simple and obvious.
Every experience you have ever had, came and went, good, bad or ugly. In the same way every experience you are yet to have, will also come and go, good bad or ugly.
With this in mind, why would a spiritual experience be any different?
There is no experience which does not have the nature of experience, and the nature of experience is impermanence, transience, ungraspability.
Nothing lasts, no thing lasts.
This very experience you are having right now, tells you everything you need to know about *all* experiences whether we deem them to be profane or profound.
Once you know what experience does – and can only do – you stop becoming obsessed by them, you stop chasing them, seeking them, clinging to some and rejecting others.
The whole notion of a future experience of enlightenment falls away as wishful day-dream and all we are left with is this, this ordinary experience, this ordinary moment, this ordinary life.
But that’s good news because as Zen Master Tenkai writes:
See with your eyes,
Hear with your ears,
Nothing is hidden.