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Recently, I thought I’d start a meditation group here, in the City of New York . I ran the idea by my teacher —as I do anything related to handling people’s minds—and he suggested that I not teach the class. Why? I mean, why would a Zen Master suggest that a Zen monk not teach a meditation class? It’s a koan in itself—so let me explain. . .
It isn’t that I don’t know how to teach meditation—or that it’s a bad thing to meditate. (In fact, science has proven that it’s good. And as to my qualifications: I’m a monastically trained Buddhist priest with more than 10,000 hours of meditation under my belt, having meditated for three to 20 hours per day, everyday for ten years.)
So, why did he not want me to teach the class? The reason is this:
Everything is already meditating. Even sadness is meditating— as are cancer and all sorts of “bad” things.
Therefore, there’s no need to “add a head on top of a head,” as the literature sometimes puts it. What you want to do is to realize—before you meditate—that you’re already meditating. And—at least according to my teacher—meditation is not the best way to do that.
This is not the place to explain the Buddhist approach to enlightenment or meditation, or what meditation is, which is a deep study that requires a teacher and a proper, specialized environment. However, if you’re interested in this topic, email me and I’m happy to help you get started.
Buddhist study is a way of life with a particular view. But there are many other approaches to the meaning of life, and we’ll be looking at them over the coming weeks.
Next week we’ll look at Positive Psychology, a contemporary, secular, science-based approach to meaning and happiness. Positive Psychology is gaining popularity and being taught at places like the University of Pennsylvania, Brown, Yale, Harvard, U.C. Berkeley, and others. You might have heard of it through popular books such as Dr. Seligman’s, Flourish, or through our very own Meditation Kit.
Maybe you’re thinking: “But wait? I thought you weren’t supposed to teach meditation!” That’s right!
So you might be wondering: “Uh? But it’s ok to meditate, right?” Yes!
Meditation is great for health–just like diet and exercise. That’s why we offer our free Meditation Kit. But it won’t get you to enlightenment. As long as you’re not expecting Buddha’s enlightenment, meditation’s a good corrective–like medicine–for many toxic trends in modern life.
Stay tuned to learn more about Positive Psychology, and its approach to human health and happiness.