What Trying to Meditate is Really Like

Robert Wright is one of my favorite writers and thinkers. He just published his third book, The Evolution of God earlier this summer. In hearing him promote his book, I’d heard him speak of his attraction to Buddhism and meditation, so I was delighted to come across this rendition of time he spent on a meditation retreat on the New York Times Opinionator Blog: Self, Meditating.

As usual, he’s brutally honest about the experience of meditation – the frustration, the imperfection, the confusion. And he’s funny. And smart.

Here’s a taste:

This retreat is coming at a good time for me. In June I published a book that I’ve been feverishly promoting. Publishing and promoting a book can bring out the non-Buddhist in a person. For example, when book reviewers make judgments about your book, you may make judgments about the reviewers — ungenerous judgments, even.

Also, you’re inclined to pursue the fruits of your activity — like book sales — rather than just experience the activity. Checking your Amazon ranking every 7 minutes would qualify as what Buddhists call “attachment.” And attachment is bad. (Oops: I just made a judgment about attachment.)