Five weeks ago I began this series, “A New Way to Teach Meditation”. Please see at least one or two of the earlier posts for more background. (The archive of earlier posts can be found on the lower right hand corner of the home page).
For a brief summary of what has been offered so far:
This new approach to teaching meditation accommodates a much wider range of beliefs than most other approaches to meditation. This approach works just as well for those who believe in God, those who do not, and those who are just plain confused.
But for this open minded, interfaith, and pluralistic path to be possible and credible, it is essential you apply the best standards you reasonably can with rigorous honesty, personal integrity, intellectual clarity, human decency, warmth, and love in your studies and discernment.
Over the past two weeks I have highlighted two ways to apply these high standards of rigorous honesty and clarity. Here is a third way:
For those who follow a religious path, whether it is one of the ancient paths or a “New Age” version. Ask the following question:
Are there some aspects of your beliefs that simply do not stand up to rational scrutiny?
I am not saying you should jettison those beliefs just because they do not hold up to the scrutiny of reason. Nor am I suggesting that somehow only reason or science are the only valid means of introspection or study. I am sure they are not.
What I am suggesting is that you be fully aware and completely honest of any glaring contradictions between the beliefs you have and the modern tests of critical rational review.
For example: Catholics believe the Eucharist becomes the body and blood of Jesus, and that Mary was a virgin, or that Jesus healed the blind by rubbing spit on their eyes.
Jews believe the God of their bible ordered Moses and Aaron to murder thousands of people for dancing around the golden calf (Exodus 32:27). Do they really believe God makes such demands?
Muslims and others believe that God created human life and depending how you live this span of 1-115 years, you are destined for eternal life either in hell of heaven.
The Dalai Lama and orthodox Tibetan Buddhists believe the senior Tibetan leaders can use astrology to find the general location of where Dalai Lama will be reincarnated as an infant after his death.
Mormons believe the Book of Mormon was given to Joseph Smith by an angel who gave him the Book of Mormon written on a set of golden plates which then mysteriously vanished back up to heaven.
Vipassana Buddhists believe the Buddha could levitate and float through the air and that the Buddha and Ananda and others could dematerialize and rematerialize somewhere else. A ten year old Buddhist child was told his blindness was caused by some sin he committed in his past life.
New Agers believe in many spacey, dreamy things which have no supporting evidence of any kind such as the lost city of Atlantis, or the Akashic records, or conversations with the dead.
Once again, I am not saying that one should only believe in things that pass the scrutiny of reason and science. Atheist scientists have their own intellectual challenges to work through such as their belief in dark matter and dark energy they say comprises 94% of the gravitational force in the universe. Maybe someday scientists will know what these forces are. But at present there is no consistent theory which explains what these forces are. This does not prevent most scientists from claiming that their general view of the universe (that there is no God) is fundamentally the correct one. With such glaring gaps in the foundations of their system how can they be sure they are not completely missing something important.
What I am saying is to look carefully at what you do believe and see if some of your beliefs openly defy any sense of reason or contain glaring gaps where there is no explanation at all about those gaps.
Are you a student of meditation and a believer in God who believes in things that defy even basic standards of reason and science?
Are you a student of meditation who is an atheist scientist with major gaps in your understanding of theoretical physics like no way at all to explain what gravity actually is or how particles appear to have mass?
What are the glaring contradictions in your belief system? What are the unanswered questions of the path you are on?
Remember, a great answer to deep questions is “I really don’t know.”
Remember: Better an honest confusion, than a false certainty.
Please let me know what you think.
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)