It's mid-afternoon, and there's a break in the latest series of storms off the Pacific. The sun pokes through the heavy clouds and gleams off the swollen creek. Thanks to a gentle 'S' curve, I can watch the play of the light on the water downstream for 300 meters.
The heavy rains have brought numerous emergency alerts for flooding near the burned out areas in and below the foothills around Paradise. But unless the rains continue unabated weeks, the danger is minimal in Chico.
There are extreme "atmospheric rivers" that dwarf the usual "pineapple express" off the Hawaiian Islands. During such events, the entire Great Central Valley, 300 miles long and about 60 miles wide, can become flooded.
Climate change is making understanding so-called human nature imperative. I've been thinking on motivation in recent days. Is motivation inherently personal? The personal is very limited, so is motivation necessary?
Please don't think that because someone asks questions they are less realized than those who pretend they've found the answers. Even fully illumined human beings don't stop questioning---except during the deepest states of meditation. To be alive is to question. To cease questioning is to be dead, inwardly or literally.
We're taught that motivation is a positive thing, though there can be negative motivations of course. "Motive, means and opportunity" are the key elements to detectives investigating murders after all.
However I'm questioning whether there is such a thing as a true motive. Aren't all motives, even those with seemingly the most selfless goals, the product of personal desire and need?
I'm not thinking in terms of wrong or right here, simply false and true. Motivations, as far as I can see, are the result of particular psychological and emotional conditioning.
It's like ambition. There isn't 'good ambition' or 'bad ambition;' one is ambitious or one isn't. To not be ambitious in an avaricious culture is a terrible fault, but in actuality, ambition, whether for money, power or fame, is intrinsically false.
Is that the core difference between motivation, which is inextricably related to ambition, and drive, which springs from another source altogether?
Of course we can define words like ambition and motivation in a different way, but I'm delving into the meanings behind the words, not the semantic usage of the words.
The larger question is: Without introducing another duality, can we make a distinction between psychological thought and functional thought?
What happens during a complete meditation is that the entire psychological content of thought falls silent. Though one cannot seek it or make a goal of it, there is tremendous feeling of peace, joy and renewal when psychological thought ceases its endless chatter and tail chasing.
Sometimes even the functional content ceases to operate, and the first time that happens, it can elicit deep fear. You forget where you are and who you are. It might seem like you're losing your mind, but in facing fear, one realizes one isn't losing one's mind, but entering the cosmic mind.
Those who say, "Meditation is about remembering who we really are, our true self," are spreading the worst kind of falsehood. Meditation is actually just the opposite; it's about negating, ending and emptying the stultifying accretion of memory and emotion.
The idea that "we must remember so that we don't repeat history" is therefore deeply mistaken. Holding grudges and nursing hate are a function of remembering, not of forgetting.
It isn't that we should forget history, but that that the inner, emotional accumulations of a person and a people's history guarantee that we will do unto others as has been done unto us.
The ending of psychological thought is a fairly straightforward process. Undirected attention gathers with passive awareness of the outer and inner movements (in nature whenever possible), and acts without volition on psychological content, quieting the mind.
The source of peace, wholeness and love is the spontaneous stillness of the mind in undirected attention, allowing the brain to transcend time, which is thought.
There is no motivation in meditation, just as there is no motivation in being self-knowing. One makes the space and takes the time to meditate because it is of the essence. Besides, no one inwardly survives in the ashes of the North American culture hearth without being self-knowing.
Life has drive; humans have motivations. Drive and motivation have completely different sources, and understanding the difference is vitally important to being free and living in harmony with the Earth.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
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