Once, after completing a 35-day intensive solo retreat in the mountains of Western Massachusetts, back in 1993, I returned to life back in busy Cambridge to encounter a realization as painful as my spiritual breakthroughs had (are) vast and indescribable: The pop songs (the vast majority of which are some variant of “love songs”) that fill our spaces, public and private, in wall-to-wall ubiquity, are, in fact, thinking poison-pellets that stimulate, perpetuate and exacerbate the suffering-mind of longing, loss, alienation, confusion, mental dislocation, competition, etc etc etc. that we struggle with for this entire human existence, for however long we live. We all maybe “know” this, on the surface, about many songs. But it was then that something in my deepest cells recognized, for the very first time — while sitting in a coffee shop in Central Square, Cambridge, midway between Harvard Square and MIT — the inescapable totality of this ever-present mental programming, this endless feedback loop replaying to us everywhere the bitter soundtrack of human psychology’s most typically recurrent dissatisfactions, things touching everything that has been burned into us from our earliest human memories and fears, as living organisms suddenly cast out of a warm moist space into this glaring world with its maddening, endless movement and unfillability.
I gave a Dharma talk about this recently. And it follows in the next post. Perhaps this little teaser does a better job than the much longer Dharma talk I gave. So I share it first: