As part of our #MeditationHacks series, author and musician Miguel Chen comforts a practitioner who doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to enlightenment.

Photo by Patrick Schneider.

I thought the goal of spiritual practice was to attain some sort of enlightenment or wisdom, but I don’t seem to be anywhere near that. What am I doing wrong?

Miguel Chen: Perhaps you are overthinking it. Let’s consider “enlightenment” or “wisdom” to simply mean seeing things as they really are. If you’re setting a goal for things to be different than they are, you have already missed the point.

The truth is right in front of us at all times. We’re not trying to change it; we’re simply trying to connect to it. This is much less about attaining something, and much more about removing obstacles.

Setting lofty goals can create extra obstacles. Having a goal like “enlightenment” brings with it expectations. Expectations carry a lot of weight. Let that weight go.

In fact, setting lofty goals can create extra obstacles. Having a goal like “enlightenment” brings with it expectations about what that might look like. Expectations carry a lot of weight. Let that weight go. With this simple step, you will have removed some obstacles, and this will surely help you connect to the truth.

When in doubt, simplify. Perhaps the goal can be better understood as a moment of silence. It doesn’t sound as fancy as “enlightenment,” but even one moment of true silence can have a profound impact. When you are truly silent, there are no obstacles between you and the truth. In the space of that moment, what you seek can reveal itself. Just be careful not to attach to that idea either, for the moment you realize you have reached that moment is the moment that you have fallen out of it.

Read more from our #MeditationHacks series…



Author and musician Miguel Chen comforts a practitioner who doesn’t seem to be getting any closer to enlightenment.

 



Author and psychoanalyst, Pilar Jennings, offers advice to a practitioner who continues to feel unworthy and unloved.

 



Vipassana teacher Konda Mason answers the question: “Is it OK if I find other ways to be meditative besides sitting on a cushion following my breath?”

 



Anita Feng, teacher for the Blue Heron Zen Community in Seattle, helps a practitioner navigate the path between drowsiness and daydreaming.

 



Buddhist teacher Mushim Patricia Ikeda suggest alternatives when meditation becomes too painful.

 



Lila Kate Wheeler, author and trainer at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, answers what to do if you don’t like to meditate.

 



A Mahayana Buddhist who is encouraged to practice for the benefit of all sentient being feels like they are only practicing for their own benefit. Venerable Thubten Chodron answers.

 



Rev. angel Kyodo williams, founder of the Center for Transformative Change, advises on what to do when confronted with too many choices.

 



Josh Bartok, a Zen teacher, suggest what to do if meditating leads to an unstable mind.

 



A reader asks Sylvia Boorstein: “What’s the point of practice if it’s not making me a better person?”

 



A new meditator’s spouse disapproves of their newfound practice. Susan Piver, founder of The Open Heart Project, answers.

 



Author and lay Zen teacher Susan Moon is asked: “Should I stop meditating when emotions begin to overwhelm me?”

 



An isolated practitioner asks dharma teacher Mitchell Ratner where to look for community.

 

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