The theory is, spirits are real–in fact, spirit is the only thing that is real, all else is Maya, the Grand Illusion–and some of them are good, others evil. A cemetery of any size will contain the good, the bad, and the ugly, and that to test one's ability to tune out distractions and maintain the no-mind focus during the meditation, one is sent to a boneyard to spend the night in quiet contemplation.
The spirits, the evil ones, will attempt to invade your soul and do you psychic harm, but even the good ones will offer distractions, and like writers and book reviews, one is supposed to ignore them all …
If, the theory goes, one can hold the course through the night without giving up or being overrun and turned into a gibbering idiot, one has passed a major test and can move forward on The Path.
I've tried this, at least for a half-hour, and survived.
I have what I think is a better version of it:
Going to the mall just before Christmas.
If you can hold to your equanimity during the annual madness, then surely you can also move forward on The Path …
I've done this a few times, and it is possible. That lemming-like frantic energy is all around and impossible to miss, have you any sensitivity to such things:
OH MIGOD, OH MIGOD, I HAVE TO FIND THAT TOY! WHERE IS IT?! I HAVE TO BUY IT, BUY IT, BUY, BUY, BUY, MOO, MOO–!
The monomania is unleashed, the dogs of commerce foam and rage, the thunder of panicked hooves echoes past the phone kiosks.
Ho, ho, ho!
I have managed to do this exercise and prevail, but I can't say it's something I willingly subject myself to every Christmas season. To manage it, you need the proper mindset before you go, and it takes a bit of work. Even my recent visit to Costco, I wasn't ready, as you can tell from the posting about it. Had I been pure of heart and calm of mind, the lunacy of shopping cart pushers and taste-samplers would have passed right through me without stirring any negative energies. Peace on, Sister.
Perhaps I am not yet ready to leave the temple; just call me Grasshopper ...
Truth is, given the choice between battling the evil spirits in the cemetery and the mad consumers at the mall? I'd pick the spirits every time; much easier ...