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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 29, 2011 05:57AM

'Better to have no teachers and just read books.'

Then you will learn eventually, if you see enough books, the difference between a good and bad book. But you will remain clueless about people and learn nothing about yourself in particular.
Life doesn't happen in a book. What you get in a book is a story, sanitised, edited and usually with an agenda.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 30, 2011 06:59PM

'This is the goal of what Tibetan lamas call "destroying the ego". They have specific techniques (which the more honest lamas admit are abusive, but one prominent lama said in an interview, "If there's no ego left, then there's nothing there to experience abuse"--how convenient for the abusers!) to achieve that. Often they do this ego-destroying routine on students without prior discussion, without the student knowing what is being done.'

It is not possible, in buddhism, to 'destroy the ego.'
The ego, in buddhism, is simply an idea of myself that I have accrued and built up over years of actions and thoughts about myself.
In buddhism this 'ego' is recognised to not exist outside of thoughts about it. When I am mechanically and robotically doing some familiar and repetitive task, I am said to be without 'ego' because I am temporarily not thinking about myself. I 'lose' myself.

When I stop doing the mechanical and repetitive familiar task, my thoughts about myself, my 'ego,' returns.

A person's thoughts about himself can be changed and skewed by abusive treatment--he can come to believe that he is worthless and hate himself if he is treated as worthless and hateful, he can come to believe that he is saintly and perfect, a much easier delusion to swallow----because he allows someone in an 'authority' position over him to plant and encourage those thoughts.

One of the good things about thoughts is that they are endlessly changeable. If I choose to, I can pick a different set of thoughts--one that serves me better-- to concentrate on and put into action.

This, like everything else, takes practice--something that no-one else can do for you, or make you do (short of being under guard in a chain-gang) against your will. Practice requires the same qualities to learn the piano as to do anything else. Endless repetition and then experimentation, for which you need a real understanding of what is entailed and a dedication to see it through.

Competence in anything is not gained any other way.
Even a preternaturally 'gifted' person (something I have no belief in existing at all, very early influence is still influence) needs to practice under a competent teacher to hone his skills.

It is, of course possible to mistreat your mind and allow others to mistreat it, to such an extent that all contact with reality is lost and the person becomes insane. India has its own contingent of insane people, religious fools who gather in burial and cremation grounds and are reliant on the charity of others to stay alive. India has a tolerance for such 'holy fools' as there have always been casualties of the particular belief systems. If you visit a western psychiatric hospital, a good proportion of the inmates will believe themselves to be god, jesus, napoloean, Jim Morrison or some other exalted figure.

One's mind is a delicate and easily influenced thing, it pays to be picky what you feed it with.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/30/2011 07:12PM by Stoic.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: dostfez ()
Date: July 31, 2011 11:20AM

Meditation IMO is only useful in the VERY short term for calming oneself when one is unable to do so otherwise.

Any extended period of meditation with hopes of some kind of "spiritual" gain is not healthy at all.

Turning "inward" to such a degree so much may affect the "outward", but not necessarily in a positive healthy way.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 31, 2011 09:41PM

One cannot just consider meditation all by itself. One has to examine the social scene and implicit or explicit belief systems behind the instruction.

Free meditation classes are a constantly popular draw. But..what kind of social scene is it?

Remember, very often there may be discussion after a session, and people talk about their feelings. This is sensitive material and can lead to rapid trust and bonding.

You want to be sure your group respects confidentiality and is not then or at any time in the future, going to abuse this.

Always try to find out who is organizing the class or event.

And if there is no information or they refuse to give you any background information, give it a pass.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Date: July 31, 2011 11:26PM

It's important to observe what happens during sessions and to be careful.

During the very few NKT meetings I attended none of my questions were answered to my satisfaction by the monk. By the way, he was the perfect pin up boy for their brand of Buddhism. A former football player and party animal with a business background, he was always smiling and telling stories about his youth as a way to show he used to be a regular guy and could relate to us. A way to draw us in is more like it. It's no wonder his meditation sessions were offered at the Starbucks -- very convenient for the local yuppies.

One of his meditations for stilling the mind creeped me out and I stopped going afterwards. I think we were supposed to repeat over and over again the following: "I am a rock; I have no thoughts or feelings." I am most certainly NOT a rock and have no intentions of eliminating or denying my thoughts or feelings and allowing anyone to brainwash me.

There was another meditation group I attended called Sahaya Yoga at the neighbourhood library. I only went the one time. This one guy was very friendly and very pushy about us attending the meeting when we were outside the auditorium checking out the DVD shelf. Afterwards, he focused his attention on us and clearly wanted us to keep coming to the sessions; he was also evasive when I asked him questions. Something I have no patience for.

With the Sahaya people I was again creeped out by a number of things, especially by the promise that by looking at the photo of their smiling guru all kinds of wonderful, magical things would happen. Meanwhile, their smiling guru is an anti Semite and their group's treatment of children amounts to abuse. Not someone I would want to emulate thank you very much.

After checking out both groups online and more specifically on the RR site, I was glad I listened to my intuition and that I chose not to continue with either of them.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2011 11:44PM by openmindedsceptic.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 01, 2011 05:45AM

Openmindedskeptic, what you refer to as Sahaya Yoga--could that have been Sahaja Yoga?

If so, your gut feelings saved you. And you are right, the point of Buddhadharma is not to feel like a rock.

A teacher should not tell too many stories about him or herself, anyway. Mythologizing is an ego driven activity, not a meditational one.

If you take a Driver Education class, you dont want a teacher telling you stories about his days as a race car driver. You want someone to show you how the car works and how to operate it so eventually, you drive without needing the instructor.

I ran a Google search and it suggested Sahaja Yoga instead.

[www.google.com]

They offer free meditation classes all over the place.

And...some people on this mesage board discussed 'em years back.

[forum.culteducation.com]

And a former long time devotee wrote a blog entitled Pitfalls of Spirituality based on Sahaja Marg

[www.google.com]

Surviving Sahaja Marg

[www.archive.org]

Freedom From Sahaja Marg/Chandra Mission

[www.freedom2think.org]

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Date: August 02, 2011 05:02AM

Oops! Corboy, picture me blushing. You're right; it was a typo. What makes this all the more embarrassing is that I looked it up online because I couldn't remember how it was spelled. It's hot and humid where I live and without an air conditioner it's been hard to sleep through the night. Same with staying awake during the day.

But enough of that. Thank you for the links. It's amazing how they offer "free" classes all over the place and they're legitimized because they hold some of their classes at the library; they even have a business card holder on the front desk filled with their cards. (Actually, I've noticed their business cards seem to get around, as in they're everywhere in my neighbourhood.) After the session the guy gave us the hard sell and brought us the library's copy of their book. I suspect it was donated to the library to convert more unsuspecting seekers.

I agree that too much story telling by the teacher is unhelpful and inappropriate.

Speaking of "mythologizing," the bio on SY's guru is actually amusing. It's like reading a story about a fairy godmother whose only intention is to do good and it's so not subtle the way it builds her up as a divine creation who can do no wrong and how it was clear from the day she was born that she was divinely appointed and how fortunate we mere mortals are blah, blah, blah... (Excuse me as I reach for a barf bag.)

Surprisingly, she (Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi) didn't have some kind of breakdown with an "I've seen the light" aha moment like many of the cult gurus who are out there. I guess she's extra special.

One of my concerns is their link with kundalini energy. I didn't know they were into that until I read it on one of their online pages just now. What little I know about kundalini energy could fill a thimble, if that, but I know enough to stay away.

By the way if you're looking for self-realization and want the fast food version, you can get it by sitting in front of your computer or so they claim. Here's an excerpt from their site:

Quote
You can receive your Self Realization (connection with your Self) while sitting in front of your computer. The only condition is your sincere desire to have it.][/quote]

[quote=During the experience you will keep your left hand with the palm upwards on your lap and place the right palm on various parts of the body on your left side, while keeping your eyes closed for the entire duration. This way you will be free of distractions and able to keep your attention inside. Taking off your shoes might also help since the Mother Earth sucks all negativity through our feet.


More about self-realization and their guided meditation:



Here is a link to her bio. Before sitting down to read it, I suggest pouring yourself a cup of your favourite beverage and have your vomit bag close by, just in case.

[www.sahajayoga.ca]

Some photos of her supposedly radiating divine energy:

[sahajayoga.org]

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 02, 2011 06:46AM

Corboy, no need for blushing.

Just go run a search on Craigslist now and then and you'll find it crawling with this and other stuff.

Years back, before I got old and jaded, I tried posting warnings about SY. The SY folks organized themselves and got the warnings banned and taken down.

Thats the trouble with these set ups--its easier to assemble devotees to shoot down citations leading to information not controlled by their group.

By contrast, its difficult to accumulate enough concerned folk to keep objective posts up and in place.

PS If you have any within reach, cucumbers, whether in salad or blended with a bit of lemon peel, are great coolers.

If you can afford something sweet, you can do the same with watermelon.

And there's always iced tea, including mint.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Questions_2 ()
Date: August 02, 2011 12:13PM

Quote
corboy
Also, not enough seekers are aware that persons claiming to teach ancient methods of meditation have covertly included technology from modern methods of trance induction and Large Group Awareness Trainings (LGAT)

If a guru does story telling (and many use stock stories and metaphors from the Hindu tradition) and covertly uses Ericksonian methods of conversational trance this is dangerous to those who trust that the guru is honest.

Time to read Zen, Thought Reform and Psychotherapy by Ernest Becker: [www.scribd.com]

I'm having a massive problem these days with the way Buddhism is practiced in the West; I've seen a large infiltration of LGAT techniques in some mainstream Western groups.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 02, 2011 10:05PM

Q2, if you feel confortable about doing so, could you describe some of this infilitration?

You're not alone in noticing this. Do a search on the RR.com message board for Seung Sahn in the all dates option

[forum.culteducation.com]

and Genpo and Big Mind in the all dates section.

[forum.culteducation.com]


But if you have seen additional examples of this, and feel able to describe it (if concerned about retreat centers, you need not name the place, just describe the process)

One way to identify beyond doubt that its an LGAT is whether it fosters a collective high, people are socialized to become emotionally invested in the mythologized story of the Great Teacher.

And especially if one must sign paperwork such as this:

[forum.culteducation.com]


I have a sense that another sign that Buddha Dharma is being distorted into LGAT form is a clear departure from how Buddha told his followers to take refuge in the teachings after he died, and that he had promised he had taught them all they needed and had held nothing back.

(Mahaparinibbana Sutra)

Buddha emphasized the teachings not his own Personal Story. He did not mythologize himself or turn his situation into a Heroic Quest.

By contrast, troubled teachers tend to mythologize themselves. Being human is not enough. They turn their own lives into a Great Epic a Big Story and con others into propping up the leaders mythomaniac Big Story.

This is afflictive emotion at work--unexamined afflictive emotion at that.

Heavy media advertising and PR are also examples of this--these work by massaging afflictive emotion so you will buy into the leader's Big Story.

I wrote a rather long winded ramble on mythomania here. It may be a way to get people 'through the door' and away from Dharma and into LGAT land.

Mythomania

[forum.culteducation.com]

(tiny quote from a longer piece)

Quote

IMO one mark of an actual cult is that it exploits and inflames mythologizing tendencies a seeker already has--and conceals this regression by using bliss technology. The person gets hooked both on the bliss and on the mythomaniac leader or (in some cases) the mythomaniac organization.

By contrast to a cult, an emancipatory teacher/therapist would

1) Not be a mythomaniac. Real therapists do not fill the room with themselves and their own Big Stories. The real ones create boundaried space so that the seeker can come home to his or her own yearnings and bring them out into conscious awareness.

2) The real teacher or therapist, in addition to not filling the room with his or her story, listens more than speaks and tries to find ways to assist the client to become conscious of his or her yearnings for a Big Mythical Daddy. This is done to free the person from yearnings that are a source of suffering and that trigger hurtful patterns of behavior.

Real therapists and gurus demythologize. This will not kill wonder in life. It opens us up to a quieter and more human calmness and agency.

This cannot be done on a mass industrial scale, in workshops. Close and undivided attention is needed.

IMO, the crazy wisdom alibi or the 'sorcerer's way' as actually practiced in Castaneda's cult, is a preframe to mythologizing.

and

Quote

IMO the cultic milieu/new age scene can be distinguished by its mythologizing mindset. If you are unwilling to mythologize, you are not a member of the tribe.

I remember finding myself in the midst of such a gathering. Felt like the only sober person in a roomful of people who were stoned.

They were stoned on mythologizing and the lecturer, whom I thought was a legitimate person, turned out to be a mythomaniac.

I could see, and later verified that he was a cruel person. But the mythologizing audience were blind to all this.

IMO and I speak as a private citizen and sometime Dharma practitioner--this kind of mythologizing is an intoxicant, and incompatible with Buddhadharma, period.

If you sense this vibe it will not support genuine Buddhist practice which includes the Four Brahmaviharas:

loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity

Equanimity is never a product of an LGAT

Time spent in an LGAT tends to inflame craving and one either becomes greedy and secretive in relation to its teachings (greed and delusion are afflictive emotions)

Or one becomes dismissive of those who refuse to take the LGAT or Better Buddhist Method or one prosyltizes, which disrupts the harmony needed for a community and workplace to support practice.

LGAT methods are like Agent Orange, they will ruin the habitat that supports true Buddhadharma practice by introducing secrecy, greed, discord and by clouding insight and inflaming afflictive emotions.

[forum.culteducation.com]

If you feel able to describe instances of this that you have witnessed, please feel free to do so. The more of us who can describe instances of this, the better.

Many Dharma Centers are vulnerable because they need to raise cash and are willing to rent their space to anyone who can pay. Few think to do background checks.

An especially adept LGAT ambassador may charm and beguile a teacher or retreat center administrator.

And sadly, few think to fact check because too many Buddhists are afraid to violate right speech by speaking up about potential trouble.

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