Most rabbits look terrified: the wide-open eyes, the twitching whiskers, the muscles tensed to bound off at any moment. It took Lewis Carroll to suggest it was because they were late.
I have a white-rabbit mind. Constantly aware of how much time I have left, it makes sure that I do everything I need to, but is always keeping an eye on the next task, and the next, and the next. It leads to a shallowing of experience.
Take meditation. In a body scan, it is quite possible to spend an endless amount of time with the physical sensations in, say, the left calf – why you might want to is a question for another time. But my white-rabbit mind is constantly saying, ‘You do realise we have the rest of the body to get through, and, since we have timed this for thirty minutes, that means getting through the rest of the left leg quick-sharp if we’re to do the right leg, pelvis, back, etc. etc.’ On, it yatters, pocket watch in hand.
But let me pay tribute to it. It gets me out of bed in the morning, it gets me to the meditation mat. It makes sure that I turn up to work and social events on time. And nothing happens unless you turn up. Cheers to the White Rabbit.
The alternative frightens me even as I think of describing it. It would mean putting the watch down on the grass, loosening the waistcoat, hunkering down. Much like, well, the Buddha. In the classic lotus pose, he is the model of absorption, engaged in a thorough exploration of experience. The little I know from this is that unexpected things happen; I achieve depth – which is often different to what I thought it was going to be. Also, in rare moments, an inner-wisdom arises. One that has been stifled by the daily FM radio of existence and the foot tapping of my white-furred friend.
The downside? Basically, loss of control.
The White Rabbit gets me to the laptop, it ensures I complete my writing task for the day. But all the time, it is distracted by what will be happening after. Writing becomes shallow, risk-averse, lacking the possibility of depth.
The Buddha sits down with his laptop and thinks, ‘What now?’