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The Morality of Meditation

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 12:34 PM

MEDITATION is fast becoming a fashionable tool for improving your mind. With mounting scientific evidence that the practice can enhance creativity, memory and scores on standardized intelligence tests, interest in its practical benefits is growing.

This is all well and good, but if you stop to think about it, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the (perfectly commendable) pursuit of these benefits and the purpose for which meditation was originally intended. Gaining competitive advantage on exams and increasing creativity in business weren’t of the utmost concern to Buddha and other early meditation teachers.

http://www.nytimes.c...ation.html?_r=0

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#2    redhen

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 01:46 PM

Like Tai Chi and Yoga, Buddhist meditation can be stripped of any metaphysical or religious trappings. There are several different of meditation, but the article doesn't say what kind was used in the lab test.

I highly doubt they used Metta meditation, although that would have been my preference for an experiment on empathy.


#3    libstaK

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:10 PM

I see no problem with using meditation to improve one's memory and lucidity/attention to detail, creativity etc which will help a person just live life more fully.

It is a step that brings meditation itself into the mainstream and offers a quick and quantifiable reward for effort, which will encourage more focussed efforts for even deeper understanding of how the mind functions.  This is a good thing and an important first step, it's not a failure for meditation to not move beyond this, it is an opportunity, a door opened and therefore a success whether one explores further or just enjoys their new mindset and how it helps them navigate life.

Once folk see results that they can measure in their day to day lives, they will also have cause to wonder "how much more can meditation achieve?" and "if these are the quick short term results, what does a long term effort offer?"

The potential for breakthroughs philosophically and intellectually alone are staggering add to that the more altruistic and spiritual aspects that can be achieved - we have a whole unexplored realm of potential here.

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#4    bLu3 de 3n3rgy

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 02:46 PM

From the article:

Quote

The results were striking. Although only 16 percent of the nonmeditators gave up their seats — an admittedly disheartening fact — the proportion rose to 50 percent among those who had meditated. This increase is impressive not solely because it occurred after only eight weeks of meditation, but also because it did so within the context of a situation known to inhibit considerate behavior: witnessing others ignoring a person in distress — what psychologists call the bystander effect — reduces the odds that any single individual will help. Nonetheless, the meditation increased the compassionate response threefold.
Although we don’t yet know why meditation has this effect, one of two explanations seems likely. The first rests on meditation’s documented ability to enhance attention, which might in turn increase the odds of noticing someone in pain (as opposed to being lost in one’s own thoughts). My favored explanation, though, derives from a different aspect of meditation: its ability to foster a view that all beings are interconnected.

I think it may be that the most significant thing that meditation does is to move you out of your self centredness. I believe our everyday default position/level of consciousness is the ego level of consciousness and this in simple terms translates to being self centred or trapped in that position of reasoning, be it if you are someone with goals to achieve or someone who is overwhelmed by life, depression, circumstances.

Many find moving out of self centredness, key, and to be very relieving and freeing when it is properly experienced through meditation, as well as healing. Spending daily amount of time meditating and moving out of this default position that society programs us to be in, can help us to transform and intergrate our higher levels of consciousness and higher perceptions. Parts of us that our ego default position can't comprehend.

Can meditation be misused as the article hints at? that's a tricky question - my response would be that if a person fails to understand the true power of intent and uses meditation to feed their self centred desires then they are not really meditating in the true sense, they are simply self indulging / self obsessing and only moving in the realms of their ego consciousness. That's ok if the person realises that it's a pretty stunted place to be and not where their true potential lies. To get beyond that superficial level the experience and journey it self would have to transform the person anyway, it's inevitable.

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#5    GreenmansGod

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:31 PM

I use it for stress and pain management. The spiritual side is just a happy side affect.

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#6    White Crane Feather

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:15 AM

I think the benefits would illude you if you were meditating for that purpose. With that said there is nothing wrong with profiting from creativity and even compassion indirectly. People that find it in themselves to live like this often find themselves climbing latters seemingly automatically.

In a work place if you are always looking after others, supporting people when they are down and trying your best to make everyone's else's life a bit easier, smart managers take note of this. People that you are kind to will be in positions to help, support, ad recommend you down the road.  Kindness is very powerful for everyone.

In my business, I listen to my inner voice constantly and I'll tell you it always pays  back in dividends that are priceless and profitable. I have never withheld my services if Somone was unable to afford them and offer them freely with no strings attached, and surprisingly enough even those that were to proud to take me up on the offer have brought me more business than they would have ever produced themselves.  Its wonderful. I make money offering my services for a fee, and I make more money offering my services to those who need a break for free.

My wife hates all the hitch hikers I pick up, all the young struggling men training at my school for free, and the dollars I hand out in the city, but its so fun. She also notices that when there is a huge project 15-20 young men will show up in a heart beat to help. I just finished a 70 kid summer camp that benefits the local schools. I had to call the guys to show up and help. There are also these strange occurrences the happen all the time where everything falllainto place in the most amazing ways to make things work out. I have stories that will blow you away.

There is an old addage " what comes around goes around". I believe it to my core.

I think meditation brings you into alignment of what we all really are...underneath it all consciousness. When you live consciously amazing things happen.


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#7    JMPD1

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 12:29 AM

For me, meditation brings clarity and focus.  My mind is usually a whirlwind of activity, and I had found that forcing myself (an oxymoron, I believe) to meditate enabled me to bring my random thoughts into a semblence of order.

Over the years I found I no longer have to force myself, and can slip into a meditative state very easily.  In fact, conditions in my present employment have made that ability paramount, as I have to deal with a very irritating co-worker, who seriously damages my calm.

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#8    Professor T

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 07:35 AM

I kind of object to meditation as being quoted as a "fashionable tool" because imo it's nothing of the sort. A few workmates now know that I meditate & am into the whole meme of Meditation, insight, and as such I've earned the nickname "Flower Power." :lol:

I kind of agree that there is a disconnect between personal pursuit of benefits to self, but that is only if the practitioner allows that to be the case.. Lot's of people outside of the "Flower Power" circle still come to me for insight about work and social related issues, and I offer it freely and am sometimes rewarded with dawning looks of comprehension, which are far more rewarding than any competitive edge or personal gain, which should never be a goal.

I guess that ultimately, for me anyway, meditation is all about trying to understand consciousness and it's many layers. Meditation is a key to many locked doors in that respect, and ultimately it's a personal journey, but one that's rewards should be shared.


#9    GreenmansGod

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 09:58 AM

It beats all the pills that is for sure.  I think the reason it is objected too is once you know how to do it is free.

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#10    Frank Merton

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 10:11 AM

There is no moral obligation on Buddhists to meditate the way there is on Christians or Muslims to pray.  It is often suggested and is seen as the easiest route to enlightenment.  It has never been suggested as a way of dealing with mental illness (at least in my experience).

Some care here; I would oppose pushing meditation as an alternative to medicine, whether of the talk variety or of the pharmaceutic variety.  The furthest I would go is to suggest it as a supplement, and I would make no promises, or even hints, as to benefits that might or might not be gained.


#11    libstaK

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 10:28 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 10 July 2013 - 10:11 AM, said:

There is no moral obligation on Buddhists to meditate the way there is on Christians or Muslims to pray.  It is often suggested and is seen as the easiest route to enlightenment.  It has never been suggested as a way of dealing with mental illness (at least in my experience).

Some care here; I would oppose pushing meditation as an alternative to medicine, whether of the talk variety or of the pharmaceutic variety.  The furthest I would go is to suggest it as a supplement, and I would make no promises, or even hints, as to benefits that might or might not be gained.
I agree, what is rarely mentioned but important to understand is that meditation is not a process of smooth sailing into calm and serenity - there is upheaval and some things that were previously hidden could prove powerful obstacles that can make you behave and think in ways you would not have previously considered until you pass through the process of comprehension - if you stop or fail to comprehend, meditation can be a journey into really absurd mental gymnastics and belief systems.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

Inscription - Temple of Delphi

#12    GreenmansGod

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Posted 10 July 2013 - 10:45 AM

I am talking about pain pills. I could take a lot of pain pills and they would give them to me.  But the meditation has taught me to refocus my mind away from pain. The pain is still there but I ignore it, meditation helps with that. It is not a cure all, but it good complement to the conventional stuff.  Whether Buddhist or Hindus do it is irrelevant to me.

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#13    Frank Merton

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 09:02 AM

Well of course Asian religions have a lot of ways of dealing with pain and similar ailments like inability to sleep and tension and grief.  Some of them are herbal and have ancient histories.  Meditation too helps although it takes time to learn.  The exact doctrinal context (Buddhist or Hindu or whatever strikes me as not relevant).

Still, a little aspirin won't hurt either and may be better than the overkill represented by six months of training.

I have to repeat myself: meditation has a variety of practical uses, but its purpose of achieving steps toward enlightenment and wisdom and mindfulness and centrality are the important things.


#14    GreenmansGod

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Posted 11 July 2013 - 11:41 PM

Herbs = drugs. They are just in a different package. Most drugs come from herbs. The type of drugs that help with my pain also turn loose the giant cockroaches from mars who live under the bed, not fun,  They need to stay under the bed.  Asian religion doesn't have a patent  on meditation.  It has been used by many different cultures over the centuries in different ways.  It is a useful technique to help with relaxation and teaching yourself to focus.   The spiritual stuff is a bonus.

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#15    third_eye

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 12:04 AM

there is meditating and there is 'meditation' ... I think the study stated is too general with the specifics ... the only similarity I see the calming and lowering of stress

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