Some thoughts on meditation

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Jun 15, 2015, 3:29:13 PM6/15/15
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Some Thoughts on Meditation
Meditation is a word we come across so often,
that it is as common to hear a friend say that they are going to their
meditation class as it is to be attending car maintenance sessions.
But whereas motor car maintenance is fairly straight forward in that we know what our mechanical short comings are and we have some idea of the skills we are going to have to acquire to keep our 1970 Beetle on the road, in a reasonable state of repair, this is not the case with meditation. With meditation, the situation is a little more complex. Generally we take up meditation for reasons that are deeply personal, subjective and often difficult to understand with any degree of accuracy. In fact, our reasons for taking up meditation, are often as little understood as the "self" that is taking up the practice. Many people turn to meditation as therapy, as a possible means of dealing with emotional problems and trauma. When this is the case, it can be a difficult and sometimes emotional cycle of change in our lives, at a point where we are least likely to behave where we are least likely to behave rationally. Meditation can be a very successful and therapeutic tool but we need to give some thought to what we are getting involved with and why. That there are pitfalls and dangers in this area, will be apparent to most people, because for every good meditation teacher, there are a number of cult groups and gurus, that are only too willing to take in the unwary, well meaning as some of these groups are. Others are frankly exploitative whether financially or emotionally and it is all too east to lose valuable time and energy to them, for by any more serious consequences.
There are many diverse approaches to meditation, and many schools of thought, both modern and traditional. The most common sources for meditation instruction in Britain, are to be found in a number of traditional schools, particularly Sufism, Buddhism and Hinduism.
All of these schools have many sub-divisions and offshoots from the main sampradayas, the disciplic successions. There are a number of Buddhist groups working in most cities, from traditional Tibetan, to
virtually western. There are also many schools of yoga, ranging all the way from Bhakti to Jnana and Sufi teachings that stem from traditional sheiks, to G.I. Gurdjieff. The western tradition is also there but the secrecy brought about by centuries of church persecution has made this an even more hazardous path to approach, as the lack of structure which presents little in the way of problems to the strong minded, can be disasterous to the easily led. Regardless of what sort of meditation we are investigating, it is essential that we remember it is an investigation. We have to be pragmatic, accepting nothing on face value until such a time as we can say - "Yes, such and such is a beneficial technique, it does everything that the teacher said it would!" Or on the other hand , "No, it does nothing for me!" It is all too easy to accept on face value something that we want to believe in, something that looks attractive and seems to be the answer to all our problems. Life is seldom that simple: we have to find the right medicine for our particular complaint, rather than quaffing like Alice, the first bottle with a "Drink Me," label that we stumble upon. Most of the traditional meditation schools are well documented and have an extensive literature of their own. This is part of the investigative process, so check it out, read up on them, reading both writers from inside and outside the system if possible and finally judge by results rather than the claims of exponents. For many of us with a Western European Christian church background, a lot of trauma can come about through having left the religion we were brought up in. Many individuals who give up a Western faith, simply replace it with its exact complement from the Orient. We have to realise that faith alone is dangerous, as it borders on the fanatical. What we need is knowledge and even in the insecurity of not knowing, of not having any answers, is better than accepting answers that have no foundation in our experience.
Alan Watts wrote a book around this theme called The Wisdom Of Insecurity and it is important to realise that insecurity can contain a great deal that is positive and helpful. If we can accept our lack of knowledge, accept that we "know" very little and make that little the basis our lives, in time the kernel of knowledge will grow. By keeping open the space that insecurity gives us, we are giving ourselves room to grow in. Meditation will help but we have to start off sensibly and avoid the
pitfalls of the unwary and the over enthusiastic.
SUGGESTED READING
Mind and Memory Training Ernerst Wood
Self Culture I.K. Taimni
The Wisdom of Insecurity Alan Watts
The Quiet Hour Michael Volin
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