A friend once told me that some religious people who become not religious have a sort of disease. They feel a hole in their soul that religion used to fill, and now they don't know how to fill it.
And he thought I had this disease. And I do. Did. Maybe still have.
I suspect that some people gain this disease by taking drugs, and having a somewhat religious experience, like having a curtain pulled away that they didn't know was there, and seeing heaven for a moment.
I suspect that some people gain this disease by having a near death experience, and having a similar view into another realm of existence, after which it becomes clear that there's something more.
And there's this pull to find the answer. It's like a puzzle — a super important puzzle — that needs solving.
The need is the disease. Disease is a harsh word. The sense in which it is a disease is that it can be unpleasant, and time consuming. Like feeling loneliness — a need to find love — and spending lots of time on online dating sites.
I suspect that if this doesn't turn people to God, it turns them to meditation. It turned me to meditation.
The God solution is: God exists, and they love you, and you can be reunited with them after you die.
The meditation solution is: accept that the puzzle may have no answer, and there may not even be a puzzle. But this isn't a solution to the puzzle. It's a solution to the disease — a way to cure the need to find an answer.
But it's confusing, because curing the disease is pretty great, and so it seems like it is an answer, as if the puzzle was figuring out how to stop trying to solve the puzzle. It has this nice circular self-referential property that the best puzzles often have.
So beginning meditators like myself, with a fresh hole in their soul that needs filling, hear a solution like "the way to X is to go to not X", and take it as a riddle of sorts, and meditate, hoping to expand their mind enough to comprehend it's self-referential weirdness.
But it's not a riddle. It's a sort of "tip". It should be phrased as "Hey, so you have that disease where you feel a hole in your soul? Do what you need to, but a useful thing to consider along the way is that, although it feels like you have a hole in your soul, that may be a sort of trick of the mind. Your brain might be capable of presenting the illusion of a 'hole in your soul'.. maybe it can't.. maybe you can trust that your feeling is an accurate representation of reality.. but make sure of that. Don't take it for granted."