Beyond Buddhism: The Metaphysics of Meditation…

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Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

Meditation has increasingly gained adherence in the Western world, since its initial mass-marketing roll-out as Transcendental Meditation (TM) under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960’s, with such illustrious disciples as the Beatles, a Beach Boy or two, and Donovan, among others, any feeling that it was all hype at the time, eventually assuaged by glowing and growing reports of its therapeutic value, BUT…

What exactly is that therapeutic value? Stress reduction is the most obvious benefit, and the reason that many schools and business places have instituted a ‘quiet time’ of a quarter-to-a-half-hour or so, once or twice a day, or even as little as five minutes a pop. Now I’m not sure exactly how much good can be attained from so little time, but I guess anything is better than nothing…

This would be mostly secular meditation, of course, any increase in time or effort indicative of a likely increase in dedication—or devotion. There is no fine line separating religious and secular meditation, though, and I like it that way, holding out hope for the uninitiated, that they might find that one thing that is great and definitive of all religions: greatness itself, and the smallness of the individual, self, ego, pathos of personality…

And from that point it only gets better, IMHO. I think that meditation is but the first step toward an entirely new paradigm capable of transforming lives, and societies, specifically via Buddhism, but not exclusively. This could easily include a metaphysics based on meditation, it being the Supreme (form of ) Being at the center of worship and/or devotion. No one said that Supreme Being had to be an anthropomorphic Big Guy at the center of the universe, giving orders from on high—no, it doesn’t have to be like that…

Zen goes a long way towards that end, but ends in enigma and confusion for me with its inability to articulate final results as successfully as it does first principles. I don’t know how many people can take comfort in enigmas wrapped in riddles. Religion is about certainties, even if the scope is limited…

And Eckhart Tolle does a nice job approaching the same subject from a non-religious non-traditional perspective, but ultimately the swimming gets a bit deep in the New Age waters of unproven ‘energy centers’ and a Universe apparently every bit as capricious and contentious as your garden-variety God of wrath and retribution…

But there’s more than metaphysics at stake here, indeed our very means of thought and action. Some people interpret meditation’s message as one of ‘no-thought’, but I think that’s premature and unlikely, better to strive for ‘non-narrative’ or at least a lessening of it…

Don’t fight over the minutiae of meditation

I’m convinced that thought existed before language, more visual, in something akin in structure to Boolean (computer) logic, and a return and strengthening of those methods might yield real benefits, with narrative language itself limited as a tool of logic, limited to the structure of its own narrative form, and Aristotelian logic…

The quality of thought can be improved, too, whether narrative or visual, simply by the ‘uncluttering’ of one’s mind through meditation, in effect emptying the trash, and then re-stacking and re-stocking the warehouse, just like the clean-up tools of any laptop computer, changing the oil and flushing out the engine…

Increasing evidence suggests that ‘multi-tasking’ is an urban myth, too, more applicable to quantitative computers than qualitative humans, in effect suggesting that we are merely switching back and forth between tasks, rather than sharing them simultaneously. This not only reduces the quality of each individual product, but the quantity, too, since time and effort are lost in switching. Meditation can help with this…

But drink deep, if you want the best results. Ten minutes a day is not much in the way of mental maintenance. I recommend at least twenty minutes–per session. And it makes little difference the proprietary format of your sessions, IMHO, though for myself I prefer silent meditation. But I feel it’s better to sit still in a chair for a continuous half hour than the most beautiful lotus pose for much less. After a year or so, I’m only now working up to that level. And a lotus position is not necessary to meditate; it just looks cool…

Good meditation goes quickly, though this is not obvious at first glance, and you’ll do just fine without your own private mantra from TM. Take the money you’ll save and buy a ticket to Asia. Buddhism’s free there, or almost, and practitioners often use the generic name ‘Buddha’ itself or inflected as ‘Buddho’ for a mantra. Counting breaths also works, as I independently discovered, apart from B. Alan Wallace’s recommendation of it as ‘training wheels’…

If you’re lucky you might even go into trance while meditating, fully awake fully aware lucid dreaming hyper-conscious WITH INTENT; without the intent it’s just a summer power nap. And meditation means to control the Mind, not just quiet it. Mind control is only bad when someone is controlling you, so chase those bad thoughts away, along with random pop music ditties and your frantic frenetic ego. Maybe a self is intuited, but there’s nothing really there!

I only wish interested parties would quit arguing over the minutiae of meditation, and find common ground. It’s bad enough that every religion claims that theirs and theirs only is the path to righteousness, and every sect of Buddhism Christianity and Islam does the same, but every little meditation system demands allegiance, too, violators subject to removal from the 10-day retreat. I see two kinds of meditation, silent or guided, with mantra as an intermediate form. Everything else is pure BS in my humble opinion…

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