Thursday, January 23, 2014

The problem with mind-only meditation

Isn't meditation all about mind? What is the problem?

In the modern world of consumerism, a student can have anything. On the positive side, he will be exposed to the formerly inner circle stuff (like this blog). On the negative side, there exists teachers selling him anything he asks for. One such thing is mind-only meditation.

The fact is many meditation classes tell their students that they only need to sit down comfortably, clear their mind (if Zen orientated, observe the immediate, whatever that means, or whether it makes any sense, to a student), listen to some soothing music, let loose their mind and THAT is meditation. It is true that the teacher will talk about many things (otherwise how to convince students to come), mostly about the supposed benefits of meditation. One or two may add a bit of wisdom talk (like focus on the immediate) to satisfy the curiosity of the more intellectually minded students.

Classical Taoist meditation is all against mind-only meditation. A sound mediation practice MUST involve the body. And chi-generation is the key to manage the process (I will not talk about the actual process of chi generation here, many previous posts covered the subject). In Taoist meditation (and any good meditation practice), the first step is to transform our body with our mind, the next step is to nurture the mind by the body, and the last step is to transform the mind without any hindrance or conditioning  (prior or prenatal) from the human body. Most modern men (me included) do not need to go through the last step, which is a form of personality overhaul towards sainthood or immortality (and with its own pitfall for the too adventurous - e.g. turning himself into a self-proclaimed superman or super-prophet!).

What is the problem with mind-only meditation? In short, mind-only mediation is day-dreaming. To be fair, for some people day-dreaming can relax their mind and can be beneficial. But it has nothing to do with true meditation. I have a friend who, conditioned by some now unconscious events when he was a child, will have his mind switched off from time to time. He will find himself in a very beautiful garden (each time the same garden). There he feels happy and relaxed. After an indefinite time (no more than half an hour), he will come back. He cannot control when he will be affected (when his mind is fully engaged into solving a real world problem, this condition won't happen). For safety reason, he never drives a car.

Do you want to relax with day-dreaming? If yes, perhaps you can condition joining a "meditation class" that teaches mind-only meditation.


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