An underlying issue with dry spells in meditation is our feeling – our expectation – that the trajectory of spiritual progress ought to proceed upward at a steady, consistent rate, more or less in a straight line.
According to our straight line theory, as long as we continue to practise our meditation daily, we would increase our capacity and our experiences would deepen accordingly, a little each day. Because 1 + 1 = 2 and 2 + 1 = 3, it stands to reason that every day we meditate, our meditation would be better, more illumining and fulfilling than the last. So thinks our rational mind, and so we expect – at our peril.
In spiritual matters, rationality and expectation guarantee disappointment and frustration. Spirituality has its own rhythms, never bending to the laws of our reasoning minds.
Dry spells defy our logic of effort and reward: we are putting in the daily effort, and not receiving our due reward, confounding not only our expectation, but also our sense of fairness and justice.
The culprit here is the very notion of the straight line.
Our minds love straight lines – squares and boxes – because straight lines are predictable and can be controlled. Our minds employ straight-line instruments to measure and define, building straight-line homes and offices for us to live in, constructing world-views from the straight lines of fixed theories and opinions, moral straight lines of right and wrong, good and bad.
The straight line is a quintessential symbol of our minds’ mission to control and mould our universe in its own likeness – yet ultimately there is no straight line: the straight line universe is an imaginary construct, a wishful illusion, a mirage: persuasive from a distance, yet dissolving into nothingness upon closer scrutiny.