[Thanks to one of my collaborators whose questions stimulated this post.]
One could imagine a model of mind involving the accumulation and cancellation of technical debt. So, say, a person goes through life and has experiences of types A, B, and C, which add imprints of those experiences to their mind:
One could imagine experiences of these types accumulating further:
But, let’s say a person has inverse operations -A, -B, -C. Then, while meditating, or in the midst of life, that person could apply those inverse operations to pay off technical debt:
Let’s say the set of inverse operations, -A, -B, -C are enough for most life experiences. But, every once in a while something surprising and novel happens, like Z.
A person doesn’t have inverse operations for some things, so, all things being equal, over time, for an untrained mind, that person’s (body)mind will slowly accumulate technical debt over time.
Additionally, say a person goes on vacation or starts taking long walks, all things being equal, they will only ever be able to pay off so much technical debt, because they lack inverse operations for “deeper accumulation.”
In the example above, even if a person pays off all their ABC, they’re still slowly accumulating new technical debt, and they don’t have inverse operations for older and very old technical debt D, E, F, G, H, I… (And, they’ll encounter more ABC in life, so there’s sort of a dynamic equilibrium that people find themselves in, absent meditation or other transformative practice.)
(Recall, so-called “technical debt” reduces slack/creativity/flexibility in the mind and begets more technical debt.)
Ok, so, part of what meditation is, is discovering new inverse operations and building (sometimes temporary) infrastructure to support (and discover) more inverse operations.
So, an advanced meditator will be doing a tremendous amount of undoing, via a large collection of inverse operations, as well as plenty of creative doing, for learning and staging future learning, doing, and undoing.
And, the very advanced meditator will sort of have a fine-grain “omnidirectional undoer” running at all times, and will effortlessly, costlessly, fully embody something like that, such that all their actions are sort of fluid and flexible and (relatively) “karmically free,” because all doing (and experiencing) is self-met with undoing, as needed. And, if something super surprising happens, and a lot of novel, not-yet-invertible accumulation happens, there’s a tremendous amount of latent skill that immediately starts puzzle solving for new inverse operations, as needed.
To the degree people don’t eventually get overwhelmed with all their stuff, everyone already has a lot of inverse operations, as it were, and everyone does get new ones, in therapy, journaling, long walks, talking with friends, and so on. Though, for most people, they are net accumulating technical debt versus net decreasing technical debt, over time. And, learning to meditate, eventually, tips the balance of accumulation versus not to the side of net decreasing (nonmonotonically), over time.
(Remember, local accumulation isn’t bad, in a vacuum; it’s extremely useful! Accumulation can be highly strategic for the purposes of future payoff, and so on.)
It can take a long time to sort of “phenomenologically align” with “undoing as such” to sort of knowingly, directly facilitate, participate, allow it as it’s happening. It’ll of course have always already been happening, to some degree, and it comes to happen more and more, unreflectively, prereflectively, and spontaneously, too. Eventually, it’s just a seamless, costless, creative thing that’s happening a ton, along with everything else in the mind, that the mind anticipatorily and skillfully inclines towards, as needed.
So the above is sort of simplified intellectual model, that leaves out stuff about “concrete sensory impressions,” and much more.
And the “real thing” is felt, sensuous, embodied (and intellectual, and daydreaming, and getting lost in life, and everything).
One does more and more stuff that kind of maps-ish to the intellectual model above, by, well, meditating. Wellbeing, relief, insight can be clues of heading in the right direction, though plenty of clues feel pretty bleh, too, contextually.
Meditation is felt wayfinding, meditation is felt puzzle-solving.