Unlike those of us afflicted with excessive sanity, I happen to think one of the best places for meditation is a good erotic dance club. Inevitably, the music is too loud, the lights too flashy, the booze too expensive, and the girls too gorgeous. Yet, surprisingly, all those “distractions” seem to improve my ability to meditate.
Of course, there are different kinds of meditation. The kind I practice amounts to little more than dispassionate observation. I don’t attempt to direct my thoughts and feelings into any mold or channel, as is done in some kinds of meditation. Instead, I just relax and watch what’s going on moment by moment with my thoughts and feelings. There might be much better forms of meditation, but that one seems to best suit my temperament.
I wish I could claim I was foresighted enough to have sat down one day, pondered the matter of where to meditate as if it were a tough math puzzle, and then victoriously exclaimed, “I’ve got it! An erotic dance club!”. That might have shown some genius. But that’s not how it happened.
Instead, my friend Don and I went to a club one evening and, at some point, I simply discovered myself meditating. And, as near as I can figure it out, I slipped into meditation because my thoughts and feelings were so pronounced and obvious to me in the club environment.
Everything about a club, from the loud music to the nude women, is designed to stimulate. I find all that stimulation tends to exaggerate and pronounce my thoughts and feelings. Consequently, it seems no more difficult for me to observe my mental processes in a club than for me to observe mountains while looking towards the Front Range of the Rockies.
Naturally, my tendency to meditate in erotic dance clubs has amused me ever since that first evening — to say nothing of the amusement it has caused Don. Perhaps even more importantly, it seems to have taught me something about the nature of desire.
For instance, I’ve noticed how in some sense desire is like an optic or lens that brings some features of reality into focus while blurring others. And it even seems capable of creating some features that do not exist — that are delusions — while completely obscuring other features of reality that indeed exist. That seems to be important because we act (or don’t act) on the basis of what we take to be reality. Perhaps it is therefore useful to us to learn what we can about the ways in which our perception of reality might become distorted.
Yet, precisely describing in words how desire works seems to me as difficult as precisely describing in words the various ways a tennis ball might bounce. If you are curious about the workings of desire, it is by far easiest to dispassionately observe those workings yourself. And with enough observation you will gain a pretty good sense for “which way the ball will bounce” in any given situation.
Of course, you can observe the workings of desire just about anywhere — anytime you are curious — for in some sense, all desires work the same. Whether you are observing sexual desire while sitting in an erotic dance club, or observing a desire to obtain enlightenment while living in a monastery, you will notice the same patterns, the same tendencies. For me, it has been somewhat easier to see those patterns and tendencies in an erotic dance club than in many other venues. But perhaps that is only because — as Don likes to point out — I am “not afflicted with excessive sanity”.