Meditation and day dreaming.

My mother had me listen to a tape of Fr Laurence Freeman introducing meditation where he quotes Simone Weil saying that, "Daydreaming is the root of all evil". He is discussing the importance in meditation of remaining present to the unfolding saying of the mantra, of staying in the present.

However, the use of the phrase 'day dreaming' sparked a conversation in her meditation group, after all, some people get good and inspiring thoughts out of their day dreaming. If you watch a child 'day dreaming' are they not doing it with extraordinary engagement, attention and awareness (even as they are ignoring the lesson going on around them). Carried over into adulthood is this not what Einstein was doing when he was imagining travelling on a beam of light, a 'day dream' out of which the theory of relativity was born?

What Weil was buying into was the traditional devaluation of the imagination of her beloved Plato that was then carried over into the Christian mystical tradition (especially its male strand, the visionary was much more greatly valued by the female strand - Hildegard, St Catherine and Mother Julian all come to mind).

What Weil ought to have said perhaps was that distraction is the root of all evil - the failure to be wholly and lovingly present to whatever is present. In meditation, this may be the mantra or the breath etc but out of meditation, ably assisted by it one hopes, it may be whatever is drawing your awareness right now, including one's day dreams.

Distraction may be the enemy of virtue, imagination is not.


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