Escapism takes us from where to where exactly?
Escapism: habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.
How very easily each of us can perceive mediation as our little escape from the stress and anxiety of our day-to-day lives. Thinking that if we just spend a few minutes in silence we can rid ourselves of these disturbing thoughts and emotions. And while mediation may make us feel better for the moment, these thoughts and conditions will undoubtedly reappear. All that we have really accomplished is to defer reality for a brief time.
But meditation is certainly not the only avenue that many of us use to escape reality and boredom. TV, books, snacking, texting, phone conversations, exercise, yoga, vacations, a hot bath, and a myriad of other activities can support our escapism. Yet regardless of any of these, we always return to reality. All of this could lead one to believe that all of these actions are useless and of no real benefit to our lives. And perhaps that’s true.
Anything that we do in an effort to reduce or eliminate dissatisfaction in our lives is always based on desire. The wish that things, situations, or people be any different from the way they actually are. Even the desire to be free of suffering is typically just another unskillful desire. So long as any of us have physical bodies, we will remain subject to pains, sickness and discomfort. Thinking to yourself “may I be well, happy and peaceful” does not make it so. Sickness, sadness and discontent are sure to occur throughout our days on this earth. Leading anyone to wonder if there is a path out of this circle that the Buddha describes as samsara. Samsara being that vicious circle of birth, suffering and death that occur over and over again. And it would seem only natural that each of us wish to get off of this ride and be done with this endless cycle. Yet the conundrum lies in the very desire that we each have to eliminate this repetition and escape the suffering once and for all.
At this point, you are likely hoping that I have the solution for you, the magic pill that will offer some clarity and comfort. But I’m sure you can see that with that thought you are simply forming just one more desire.
The best thing I can hope to offer any of you, is the suggestion to be aware of desire. Skillfully developing our personal awareness of causes and conditions with an increasing acceptance of ourselves, our bodies, and all those around us. Allow peace to sneak up on you, and let go of that grasping for a concept.