Do you think of yourself as an ‘upright person?’
-Do you mean a respectable member of my community who keeps to the standards and values of my group?
Kind of. What else does upright mean?
-Sitting or standing with your back straight
Or being of greater length than width.
-So what’s the point of this?
The point is to suggest there is a connection between sitting upright in meditation and living in an upright way – being moral, fair, kind, true.
-All I have to do is have a good physical posture then and I will be a good human being?
If only. No, but when we meditate we are told to sit in a ‘good’ posture which means with the back straight. This helps breathing and the discipline of stillness during the meditation and therefore helps us meditate. There is a link between physical posture and mental alertness and clarity – and even the sense of purpose that lies behind meditation. It is usually more difficult to meditate if your posture is slouched, lazy and uncomfortable
-But could I meditate and be a cheat, liar and heartless exploiter of the weakness of others? Could meditation help me escape my conscience and make me better focused on my bad actions?
Maybe for a while, of course, but I think it would be unsustainable. In meditation as we sit in stillness we move. The deeper the stillness the greater the acceleration. This still movement takes us into our essential, interior uprightness. (We are essentially upright). Along the way we encounter interior postures of mind, maybe recent or well-established, maybe on the margins of our personality but also possibly in what constitutes our personality – and these postures may contradict our essential uprightness. They can be twisted and deformed aspects of ourselves.
-Facing these will be very hard, then, and we will fight against being straightened out. It’s probably why we abandon or reduce our full commitment to the times of sitting upright.
I agree. It’s hard to meditate if you have just lied or slandered someone, had an orgy of gossip or over-indulged. But we can always correct our posture, inner as well as outer. If we don’t give up we can re-align ourselves with our essential value – our essential uprightness.
By discovering our inner value, we truly begin to live by the values we believe in and we can say sorry when we fail to do so. Are you still listening?