Two weeks ago I began this post series, “A New Way to Teach Meditation”. Please see the two earlier posts for more background. The archive of earlier posts can be found on the lower right hand corner of the home page. Before too long, I will convert this series into an on-line course for those who aspire to become meditation teachers.
Please let me know by email or phone if you are interested in studying to become a meditation teacher.
A primary theme of this new method of teaching meditation is that the meditation teacher no longer dictates what a person should believe, but rather asks a student the questions, “What do you believe is the truth of this life?”, and “What core values and ethics are you committed to?”, and “What serious doubts and unanswered questions do you have?”
A secondary theme of this new method is that this approach will work just as well for those who believe in God, those who don’t, and everyone in between. This approach will work just as well for those who follow a very traditional religious path as it will for those who have little to no interest in organized religion.
This approach to meditation is predicated upon the foundation that a student is employing the highest standards of personal integrity, honesty, hard work, and open-mindedness they are reasonably capable of in their efforts to clarify what are their beliefs.
Another criteria to use when interviewing a new student, or appraising the progress of an existing student, is to ascertain how serious is their commitment to improving their skills with giving and receiving love and diminishing excessive desire.
It is unwise to spend too much time with a student who has only lukewarm commitments or is cavalier on these subjects. Perhaps later on they will see how helpful are these clear standards of personal integrity and love and decide they are interested in studying this approach to meditation. In the meantime perhaps you can refer such people to a place that teaches a way to learn meditation that is in line with their level of interest.
None of the above comments are to suggest some rigid, perfectionist standards that only a few quirkily gifted students are capable of. Quite the contrary. Any person can make the conscious choice to be more sincere in their efforts with personal integrity, honesty, and love. In fact the good news is that better efforts with these core values are all that is needed regardless of what other issues or challenges they are working with in their life and beliefs.
Making the commitment to be more diligent with these work habits is not about all of a sudden becoming some kind of over-achiever meditator. More often for most people, certainly for my self, it just means that I am more and more honest about how much I have to learn. While it is better if I can make clear progress towards my goal, what is more likely that I need to be more accepting about how often I stumble. For me what is also important is to realize that reflecting on what I really believe and how to love with greater skill and integrity is often very simply a confusing and messy process.
A basic goal of this approach to meditation is to help people learn there is a voice, or more accurately an inner guide, in the deepest part of their being and to help them make contact with that inner sense of what is true and what is false.
The work of the teacher is not to tell them what they should believe, but to give them really good questions and practices to work with and to set an example of clear moral standards, human kindness and decency. A few laughs and not infrequent times of good quality fellowship and games and trips to the beach or mountains will also help.
Over time as the student progresses with love and personal integrity they will find their inner sense. They will learn to listen for when that guide is suggesting, “Yes you are on the right path”, or, “No what you are hearing or reading is not true, at least it is not true for you.” And, “Are you being honest with yourself about the work you are doing in your relationships”, or, “No you are conning yourself into thinking you are open to change when in fact you are sticking with the same old stubborn, self-centered patterns, and covert battles for control.”
Helping a student find and then listen to their inner guide will help them find their way to their truth and profound experience. This is tempered by the counter suggestion that they need to find one or more mentors with whom they can review the promptings of their inner guidance to ensure they are not led astray by their own vain imaginings. While it may be difficult to find such mentors, keep looking. It is important to find the right balance between charting our own course and listening to the sage advice of those further along the path than you. This is assuming such mentors are not locked into some rigid, dogmatic ideology and that the moral life of such mentors is of a high caliber.
Please send me your thoughts and comments. All constructive comments or critiques will be responded to, and if you wish, will be posted for further dialogue.
More Next week
will at meditation practice dot com ( spelled out to limit spam)