YMMV, but here are my reasons. Yours might be different. Or not exist.
I meditate because I want to make a difference in the world.
I meditate so that I can make the biggest, best difference that I can.
Everything that I do is the result of what I perceive, what I decide to do based on my perceptions (including my perception of what is in my memory), what I intend based on my decisions, and what I do to cause my actions to match my intentions.
The quality of my perceptions, the choices that rise into consciousness, the decisions I make, the actions I make unconsciously, the quality of my execution all depend on the working of my mind.
Or more accurately, on the working of my minds.
I meditate to sharpen the most powerful tool that I have for making a difference.
No one has one mind. We each have at least one conscious mind and a gigantic unconscious mind. And close observation (and science) has taught me (and ought to convince you) that the unconscious mind is not a monolith.
The conscious mind is not a monolith either. “I’m of two minds on that” and “Part of me wants to do this and parts of me wants to do that” are not just metaphors.
What I do depends on the proper working of each of my minds and the way that they work together—or fail to work together.
Buggy software on buggy hardware
My mind is a collection of buggy software running on buggy hardware.
So is yours.
We all make easily-prompted and easily-detected mental errors. Some errors are due to irremediable and even uncorrectable bugs in the hardware.
Some errors are due to bad data and some to buggy algorithms.
I know I can’t get rid of all my errors. But I can lower my error rate by education (replacing incorrect data with correct data, and replacing poor algorithms with better ones) by introspection (looking for data inconsistencies and poor results) and by meditation.
Awareness and attention
My goal in meditation is to increase my span of awareness and control of attention.
Being more aware of the external environment is pleasurable, and that’s a reason for doing it. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on, and most of it happens without me noticing. But noticing cool stuff is not a primary motivation.
Being more aware of the internal environment—the way my mind works as it’s working—is fascinating. But that’s not a primary motivation.
That it makes my life more enjoyable is a bonus.
Making the unconscious conscious
Meditation makes more of what would otherwise be unconscious (and thus necessarily ignored) to become conscious (and therefore subject to error-correction).
I want increased control of attention so I can maintain my focus on what I’ve chosen to do.
I want more awareness so that I’m less likely to make errors by being unconscious of what is happening around me. I want it so that I’m conscious of the choices available before a decision is made; so that I’m conscious of the tradeoffs that go with each decision, more aware the actions proceeding from a decision; conscious of the good and bad consequences of a course of action beginning to manifest so that action can be changed.
Errors are inevitable
No matter how good my control of attention or expand my awareness, I know that I will make errors.
Some errors might manifest themselves as inconsistencies in thought or behavior. I will want to correct these errors if I detect them. But how can I recognize them if I am insufficiently aware?
I’m more likely to detect inconsistencies if I am aware of my present and past actions so that whatever inconsistency-detection mechanisms I have can do their job.
My buggy system might have evidence-of-inconsistency-suppression mechanisms that might keep me from taking action. So I need also be aware of the start of any attempt at suppression that arises in my mind.
Some errors that I make might manifest themselves through undesirable outcomes. But there’s always the chance that I will attribute the result to something other than my own error, and thus not detect it. I’m less likely to make that mistake if I’m aware of the process by which I make such attribution.
Some errors are merely missed opportunities for improvement. I want to be aware of those opportunities and take them.
In the end
I have confidence in myself—though I believe there is no self. I’m confident in my mind-system—though I believe there is no self to have a mind-system and no mind-system for it to have.
With greater awareness and attention, my mind-system will improve itself, and I’ll make a more significant and better difference.
That’s why I meditate.
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