Generally, meditation teachers of all the traditions I have studied with have a general way of teaching meditation that unfolds more or less along the following lines:
“This is how we practice. This is what we believe. These are the sacred books we think are of essential importance. Here are the great teachers of our tradition.”
“If you do as we do, believe as we believe, interpret the sacred books as we do, and study the great teachers of our tradition as we do, then you too will gain the great benefit we say is possible.”
Certainly, many people have found great benefit from fully studying any one of the ancient and modern traditions. If you find the approach in any one of the established or modern traditions to be truly meaningful to you, then please study the path you have found with as much diligence, integrity, and dedication as you can.
But there is a different way of studying meditation that is also worthy of consideration. I want to talk with anyone who is interested in this general topic. Please call or email.
In this new way of teaching meditation the teacher begins with a series of 7 questions each of which has a series of related follow up questions to be discussed when I publish the full text of this course.
The First Question
What do you believe is the truth of this life?
One way to sort this out is to see which of these five statements most closely reflects your current state of mind and life view.
1) Are you sure God exists?
2) Are you a committed atheist?
3) Are you uncertain that God really exists, but tend to think that probably there is something like God or soul or universal spirit or energy that is the foundation of all life? If so, are you interested in exploring ways to see if you can find a way to believe in God or soul or universal spirit or energy?
4) Are you uncertain as to whether the atheists are correct, but you tend to think they may be correct when they teach there is no such thing as God or soul or universal spirit or energy that is the primary life of all life? If so, are you interested in exploring ways to see if you can find a way to become convinced that all talk of God and soul is a fantasy left over from more primitive times?
5) Is the question of whether God exists or not simply not that important to you, but you are interested in exploring how meditation may help you find more peace in your life and how you can be more consistent with the ethical values you have?
6) Are you just plain confused and not sure what to believe? If so are you sufficiently interested to make the effort to see if you can find a path of belief and practice that makes sense to you and which will serve you well?
Depending on which of these basic choices a student says reflects their current life view, the meditation teacher can show them a way to approach meditation that will help them search for truth in ways that are true for them.
For each of these different life views calls for a different approach to learning meditation.
A primary aspect of this way of teaching meditation is to help a student gain clarity about their current state of beliefs. Another is to allow students to learn to articulate more clearly the beliefs they have faith in and/or the doubts or unanswered questions that are important to them.
A second important aspect of this way of teaching meditation is that people are encouraged to explore the faith and the doubts, the settled truths, and the unanswered questions they have without the teacher telling them what answers they are supposed to find.
It is true one needs to learn to put aside such discursive thinking and probing as needed. They can then embrace ways of searching for, or receiving knowledge and experience through deep interior silence and through other intuitive means.
But helping people explore what truths and values they do hold and what doubts and uncertainties they have is an excellent way to begin their search for greater peace, clarity, ethical maturity, love, and wisdom.
The conceptual underpinning for this process grows out of one of the great discoveries of the post-modern age.
This discovery is that any person can reach the highest stages of meditative experience in this life regardless of whether they are a committed believer in God or a committed atheist. They can do this even if they have no idea how to answer the “big questions.”
More next week.
Please let me know your thoughts about this new way of teaching meditation. All constructive posts will be acknowledged and if desired posted for comment.
will at meditation practice dot com ( spelled out to limit spam)