Danger, Will Robinson!

The bulk of the message in this post is really the linked video below. It is well worth watching in its entirety, but if you are *ahem* ‘time poor’ or simply lazy then watch from 5:00 onwards.

The gist of the matter is simple:

(1) meditation, particularly ‘mindfulness meditation’ is not the universal panacea that many modern exponents in the West are portraying it as.

(2) somatic, psychic and spiritual problems can, and probably will at some point, arise from extended meditation practice. This is normal.

(3) traditionally these  problems were dealt with and transformed by methods and frameworks other than meditation itself.

(4) removing meditation practice from its spiritual and traditional context, for example teaching it as part of adult night school once a week, democratises the practise but does not address the problems and potential transformation that arises due to its practice.

space

Specifically and simply in a Buddhist context we need to remember the order of the Noble Eightfold Path.

  1. Right understanding or view – (Wisdom)
  2. Right intention – (Wisdom)
  3. Right speech – (Ethical conduct)
  4. Right action – (Ethical conduct)
  5. Right livelihood – (Ethical conduct)
  6. Right effort – (Concentration)
  7. Right mindfulness – (Concentration)
  8. Right concentration – (Concentration)

Notice what comes in at number one? In fact the practise side of things (concentration) does not start until we’ve developed some wisdom and ethics. Without these, depth meditation is at best useless or self-focused and at worst a precursor to psychic disintegration.

This is why these vast and gracious traditions developed around depth spiritual practices, traditions that include ethics, intellectual development, community engagement and service, without which practise is sterile. It is why traditionalist philosophy espouses the practice of an exoteric religion to house, ground and contain our esoteric transformations. It is why, in the video, HH the Dalai Lama refused to bless a new monastery that did not include a library but focused solely on meditation practise.

Stop Outer Order Magic Now!

We can apply this argument directly to Western depth spirituality, particularly magic. It is why, traditionally, magic was not really a part of the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn. It is why a religious or Masonic path was often seen as desirable before (and during and after) the practice of depth magic – to develop ethics and communal service. It is why there are repeated psychic problems with newcomers who practice magic from day one. Just look at any Facebook magic forum for examples.

I am probably a lone or lonely voice in this respect, but there you go 🙂 I’ll finish quoting myself from a similar post:

“Right understanding. This is not a practice, but an attitude, a focal point, a giving up of the ego’s sovereignty. It is the neophyte in the Inner Light tradition declaring ‘I desire to know in order to serve‘.” 🙂

8 comments

  1. dirkt · August 15, 2013

    Well Peregrin,

    the problem with “the path” is, that it actually isn’t a linear thing at all. Right Understanding/View (and also the development of Ethical conduct) can only gradually arise, through the prolonged application of the Concentraition practice. You might start out with some preliminary advise, how things “should be viewed” and “how to behave”, but the actual realization of these things will only come to frutation, ye longer and deeper you study your own mind and behavior. On the other hand, the resulting development of your insight and ethical conduct, will also allow you to go deeper into your meditation practice. The path is more of a circle (wheel) then 😉
    However, I agree that the context is crucial.

  2. Matt Stone · August 15, 2013

    Well said Peregrin. As a long term meditation practitioner I found my own practice gained greater depth once I committed to a tradition. In my case it was Christianity but I can see how the same would hold for other traditions as well.

  3. Tabatha · August 15, 2013

    Amen and Amen!
    (And thanks for reminding me of my favorite childhood TV show!)

  4. Peregrin · August 16, 2013

    Hi Dirk,

    once again you clarify and expand on my post so well! I agree completely! THANKS for your wisdom 🙂

  5. Peregrin · August 16, 2013

    Thanks, Matt…. well said 🙂

  6. Peregrin · August 16, 2013

    If possible, Tabatha, you have just gone up a few notches in my estimation for your impeccable childhood taste 🙂

  7. Andrew · August 17, 2013

    Peregrin,

    Well said. The role of meditation in any tradition is important, but there are ethical foundations and traditional lore one be absorbed too. It’s easy to work through a program of meditation (well, not easy, but at least normal-feeling) if the only instruction is to sit and breathe. It’s quite another if the goal of the meditation is to help a person open themselves to the interior life in a way that makes them a more skillful and compassionate member of society. Meditation can lead just as easily to a selfish, ego-driven view of the world, as to a compassionate, Servus servorum dei (servant of the servants of god… I may have fudged my Latin) sense of self: drawn into the interconnected ness of all things.

  8. janeadamsart · August 23, 2013

    The problem with meditation without a sound ethical and practical base, is when it juices up the personal-ego, subconsciously. As can be seen in spiritual glamours and unscrupulous leaders and in astral disorders. Know thyself, then meditate. Many thanks for listing the order of the 8fold path!

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