Up = Down

There is a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) which I liked. I recently realized that it provides a simile for meditation practice.

Up is Down scene. Skip to 4:36 for the most relevant part.


Practicing meditation is like sailing the waters of consciousness. But if we want to reach the end of the world, we’ll need to turn our ship upside down—trading a secular sunset for a spiritual sunrise. But how to do that?

Let me preface this by a disclaimer: I haven’t capsized my ship so far. I’m relying on some ancient & modern maps. Here’s what the maps say: for the vast majority of sailors (meditators) life is primary and practice (of meditation) secondary. Practice typically provides temporary relief from a busy life. However, for some advanced meditators, it’s the other way around. Practice is primary; life is secondary. Life is a temporary diversion from practice. People at this level can easily spend weeks and months in solitary practice without any negative side effects (and with many positive effects). They truly sail the seas of consciousness upside down, submerged in inner tranquility by default. Up is down.

  • Question: Is capsizing desirable? It is if we desire to reach the end of the Buddhist spiritual path, i.e. the highest peace.
  • Question: How to do that? Capsizing happens during the final 0.5% of the gradual instruction (see first cuboid on the gradual instruction here). After practicing right immersion for a long time the secular day ends and the spiritual day of wisdom & insight begins. I can’t emphasize the foundational 99.5% enough though. No shortcuts.

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