Tiny violins – a morning meditation (or, ugly thoughts)

I wake up every morning at 5. Typically, I glance at my phone, I pee, I brush my teeth. I do the first half of making coffee (boiling water, scooping out coffee). I turn off the light in my kitchen, sit on my tuffet zafu, and medidate for 15-45 minutes.

When I’m done, I typically play back my meditation, identifying the “hindrances” that stood between me and an unadulterated, “pure” focus on my breath. This isn’t self-recriminating. A “pure” focus on my breath isn’t the “goal”; it’s more like a vision test. When I have my vision test, I’m not “trying” to succeed; I’m trying to get an accurate result. So, too, when I attend to my breath. I’m not trying to “succeed” – I’m trying to see what stands before me.

The Buddha detailed five hindrances – desire/clinging, aversion/ill will, sloth/torpor, restlessness/worry, and doubt. Those first two – desire/clinging and aversion/ill will often are collapsed together, with aversion/ill will being understood as simply a negative desire/clinging.

This morning? My meditation was all those first two. My parents raised me to wish ill for no one. To believe every human life is, if not sacred (devout atheist Jews, we), at least… precious. I’ve extended that belief in adult life. My house has suffered a minor, but intractable, moth infestation for years. (Long story.) At a certain point, I came to understand that killing individual moths in my kitchen was affecting my mood. I bought a butterfly net, and, for about three years now, I’ve defenestrated a few moths a week. I feel much better.

I don’t claim to be a radical non-harmer: I don’t just eat meat; I’ve held a cow while it was slaughtered, and dragged knives across the throats of chickens and goats. I’m a mindful carnivore, a grateful carnivore. But I’m a carnivore. And the fungus gnats that currently plague me? I frantically clap my hands on them whenever I can.

All that is to say: though I’m not perfect, I don’t, generally, wish harm on other beings.

And still?

Die, motherfucker. Die.

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