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A few years ago when asked, "What is the most important meditation one
can do now?" the Dalai Lama said, "Critical thinking, followed by action."

Meditation: True versus Feaux
Some thoughts on the potential differences


I have set my will to know the truth, based on a choice to believe that there is real goodness in the universe and that knowing the truth will always benefit or pay off. I do a LOT of contemplation where I allow my feelings to come to the surface and experience them in the light of what my rational mind and intellect “knows and believes”. I then observe the conflicts or discrepancies and challenge one side and then the other to make adjustments until there is harmony.

Part of the dynamic here is that I can let this spiritual "warfare" rage inside my head until resolution because I know that I have ultimate value, am seeking the truth, and am OK. It’s not that the warfare gets resolved each and every day. Sometimes (often in the past) I have had to table the issue(s) and trust that I will be led to greater knowledge, insight and understanding coming from experience or outside learning. This “process” works for me, if you will grant that I am rational, logical, reasonable, objective and realistic to a fair degree and that I have grown spiritually. Ultimately, this approach has forced me to develop a paradigm of God, of reality different from the traditional one.

Having said that, I do not know what “meditation” is. By the time I had any exposure or interest in meditation, I had already developed the above approach. Maybe people are actually doing different things and calling it meditation. Maybe some are even doing what I call contemplation under the term meditation. I don’t know. I do know that I have generally NOT been impressed with the results of the various types of “meditation” fostered by others.

Here is an excerpt from a 2015-9-25 Oregonian article:

“The dark side of mindfulness”

“The lesson of Mindfulness is clear: Through meditation and the Way of the Buddha, you too can become truly present and at one with the universe. You too can become happier and more fulfilled.

But there’s a possible dark side. Many people have found peace and satisfaction from meditation. But some practitioners end up tumbling off the well-lighted path to enlightenment and instead experience “twitching, trembling, panic, disorientation, hallucinations, terror, depression, mania and psychotic breakdown,”

That’s the conclusion of Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, authors of “The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Actually Change You?”

The Times of London put it this way: “Mindfulness: It can mess with your head.”

People use meditation to “quiet the mind,” ease physical pain and anxiety, and embrace their true emotions. “But happiness and de-stressing were not what meditation techniques, with their Buddhist and Hindu roots, were originally developed for,” Farias and Wikholm wrote earlier this year in New Scientist magazine.  “The purpose of meditation was much more radical: to challenge and rupture the idea of who you are, shaking one’s sense of self to the core so you realize there is ‘nothing there’ (Buddhism...”

That is indeed radical, especially for Americans with our ingrained regard for self and the individual.  Farias and Wikholm cite a study that concluded that 63 percent of people who meditate have had negative side effects of one sort or another, some of them quite serious.

Farias, an Oxford-educated psychologist who teaches at Coventry University in England, said this shouldn’t surprise anyone. “How can a technique that allows you to look within and change your perception or reality of yourself be without potential adverse effects?” he told the Times of London.

None of which necessarily means you shouldn’t practice mindfulness. Various small studies have indicated that it’s helpful in alleviating depression.

“Properly done, it’s the opposite of mindlessness,” says Anthony Seldon, a British historian and educator, “It helps people to be self-aware, to collect themselves, to be thoughtful before they decide what to do.”

A few other thoughts:

Obviously, what Seldon has in mind is different from Buddhism, and probably Farias’ and Wikholms’s understanding of the Buddhist intention is incomplete. Probably a wise Buddhist would say that stripped of the ego problems, there is “nothing there” except a person/package of eternal value. But so much confusion, and so little clarity with our language and thinking.

Also clearly, without being prepared by belief in real goodness–the Good News–, being mindful of the human condition and the evil in the world can be disorienting and downright destructive. Most dare not look reality fully in the face, most cannot be fully “mindful” without fainting and falling off the horse.

In other words, if you are not prepared to believe in full and complete goodness, a God worthy of the term, then be careful about being mindful of too much reality.

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