Quote from Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics:
Jeff chimed in, “And part of being a warrior is going against the stream.”
That term speaks to the revolutionary message at the heart of the meditative endeavor. To “go against the stream” is to refuse to be swept up in the dominant culture of unconsciousness, to carefully examine the conventional narratives and assumptions of the day. As Jeff explained, “The momentum of everyday life is to just continue tumbling along unheeding. To actually stop and pause and take stock of your life and decide to not go along with that is considered to be going against the momentum of the culture. So there’s a warrior quality to that, very much.”
It’s like how Socrates said that “The unexamined life is not worth living”. But most people don’t regularly do much intentional, conscious examination, and don’t particularly want to. They’d see stuff that they don’t like and they are pessimistic about the prospects for improving that stuff, so they’d rather not see it in the first place. And they’d rather that the people around them not see it either, cuz if other people see problems they might point those problems out, which is almost as bad as seeing the problems for yourself. And so then you have to police the people around you to make sure they’re not at risk of going down paths of thought which might lead to them being more contemplative and seeing problems which they might then tell you about. So then everyone is policing everyone else to make sure their thoughts and habits don’t get out of line, and no one is trying to think for themselves. It’s like Toohey says in The Fountainhead: “A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought in the brain of his neighbor who’ll have no thought of his own but an attempt to guess the thought of the next neighbor who’ll have no thought—and so on, Peter, around the globe. Since all must agree with all.” And so then people writing books on meditation have to include a chapter in the book called “People Might Think I’m Weird” because people are so afraid of deviating from convention that they’re afraid to take even a few minutes a day to be more contemplative about their own life.
I had seen this play out, to a certain degree, in my own life. I’ve noticed my lifelong susceptibility to the opinions of others diminishing somewhat. The act of sitting and witnessing the insane torrent of my own mind somehow helps me not take so seriously the clamor of the collective mind.
If you get perspective on your own thoughts it can give you perspective on other people’s thoughts. Say you meditate, your mind wanders, and you catch yourself judging someone negatively for their footwear, and then think “Wait wtf? Why would I judge someone according to their footwear? That’s ridiculous, that’s so superficial.” Then the next time you might worry about whether someone else will judge you for your footwear, you’ll think “hey that’s silly, I shouldn’t care about that, and they’re silly to judge me on that basis.” And if you do this 1000X times you gradually start to care less what other people think.
“insane torrent” is kinda ambiguous here by the way. Like the author could be using “insane” as a more generic qualifier for torrent – like if he’d written “The act of sitting and witnessing my insanely torrential mind” – but I would guess that he’s using it in some kind of mental health sense. So maybe he thinks he’s a bit crazy? I guess that perspective could kinda help too…maybe if you come to the conclusion that you’re a bit crazy, then you decide that everyone else is a bit crazy too, and so then other people’s judgments are just the judgments of a bunch of crazy people and so who cares? lol. I don’t endorse that view but I can see it helping reduce how much you care about what other people think.