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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Date: August 07, 2011 06:21AM

Years ago someone gave me a copy of Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Pattie Boyd. I sold it after I finished reading it. What stuck out in my mind was her comment about the effect meditation had on George Harrison. Here's an excerpt from The Daily Mail.

Three years later, in 1969, George wrote a song called Something. He told me in a matter-of-fact way that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful and it turned out to be the most successful song he ever wrote, with more than 150 cover versions.][/quote]

[quote=Frank Sinatra said he thought it was the best love song ever written. George's favourite version was the one by James Brown. Mine was the one by George Harrison, which he played to me in our kitchen.]

[quote=But, in fact, by then our relationship was in trouble. Since a trip to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in India in 1968, George had become obsessive about meditation. He was also sometimes withdrawn and depressed.][/quote][/quote]

[quote=My moods started to mirror his and at times I felt almost suicidal. I don't think I was ever in any real danger of killing myself but I got as far as working out how I would do it: put on a diaphanous Ossie Clark dress and throw myself off Beachy Head.][/quote]

[quote=And there were other women, which really hurt me. George was fascinated by the god Krishna who was always surrounded by young maidens. He came back from India wanting to be some kind of Krishna figure, a spiritual being with lots of concubines. He actually said so.][/url]

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 07, 2011 08:17AM

I was never a Beatles fan, but always found something compelling about George Harrison. IMO he was the most musically talented and there was always an almost palpable religiosity about him.
I am quite severely anti-religion so there was that pull/repulsion. I find his music quite sublime, while having no interest at all in the man who wrote it.

I don't know anything about his private life apart from the fact that he got caught up first in the Maharishi and then for many years financially supported the Hare Krishnas--to the tune of many millions.

I think he was probably an obsessive of some kind and can guess that he was hell-on-earth to live with. I pity his wives. I don't however see meditation as a cause of his personality/behaviour problems, though I doubt it was much help to him considering the conmen he took up with.

They of course could probably see him coming a mile off and certainly knew a live one when they saw it.

With such a wealthy fish as Harrison on the line both Mahesh and the other one, Prabhupada would have handled him with kid gloves, so he probably didn't experience much, if any, obvious downside from his involvement with them.
It probably had a knock-on effect on anyone around him though.

For many years I had an semi-conscious fascination for obsessive-types of all kinds--due to my backgound it was what I knew best--and I still reckon that in a crowded room I can pick out the most off-the-wall character with no problems.
It is a 'skill' that gave me problems and made my life difficult at one time, and probably says quite a lot about my own basic personality make-up.
Not that I am interested in hearing anyone's diagnosis, thanks.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2011 08:20AM by Stoic.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 07, 2011 08:27AM

Just to add, Harrison was undoubtedly exploited by his gurus and whether or not the loss of the money had much effect, the exploitation would have had an effect.

I do know that the TM version of meditation is entirely about getting to 'bliss', not knowledge---it is hypnosis of the crudest form and I would advise everyone to avoid it. TM will definitely take you down the rabbit hole, sooner or later.

Its a great song, BTW. All that cult association and obsession didn't seem to harm his creative output.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2011 08:32AM by Stoic.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 07, 2011 08:46AM

He was sued, of course, for plagiarism, over the tune and lyric to My Sweet Lord. I doubt it was a conscious plagiarism but the court decided that the influence in the tune was clear enough. Creative types do borrow bits and influence from other creative types and the line between conscious and unconscious borrowing is not always clear, particularly to the borrower.
Memory and how it works is not that clearly understood, and writers have a similar problem in picking up and using phrases etc from stuff read years ago--without being clear where they remember it from.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2011 08:47AM by Stoic.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 07, 2011 10:32AM

From the you tube comments on the song, how accurate this is is anyone's guess but it sounds plausible to me:

George Harrison told one of his old friends (a Hare Krishna devotee called Shyamsundar) that this song was actually written about Krishna. George told this friend how he had to sing something in the way she moves rather than he (Krishna) that people wouldn't think he was a puff! Many of George's songs, especially on the albums All things must pass and Living in the material world, were influenced by his involvement with Krishna consciousness and Krishna conscious philosophy

I think that there is a lot of confusion with people so inclined between a love of 'god' and love of another human being. If its all 'one'--which is what people seem to be looking for in eastern religions, then that solves the confusion of course.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: August 07, 2011 10:42AM

Link for the comment:


Given that it was a Hare Krishna devotee though who tells the story it could have been a nifty bit of cult propaganda, any chance grabbed for bigging up the guru Prabhupada would be typical behaviour.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: dostfez ()
Date: August 07, 2011 11:37AM

Like many things in life moderation is very useful.

Personally I only condone meditation for stress reduction in the short term.

Why is this topic on GH?

I luv him U luv em.

He's gone.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 07, 2011 09:27PM

The subject here on this thread is discussion of the dangers of meditation.

If you want to discuss your favorite music and musicians, there are many other venues in cyberspace where this can be done. If you've already found and participate in those venues, you can discuss George Harrison there.

A reminder of the rules for this message board which all registrants, including you, agreed to.



But you must abide by the rules and guidelines as stated below.

Please note the general topic headings listed at the main page of this forum and the related subheadings of each thread. Posting random statements about unrelated subjects is not appreciated.

It is a matter of history that George Harrison crossed paths first with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, then with Srila Prabhupada, and that he would have been a platinum level recruit for any ambitious guru.

And Stoic is quite correct about the lawsuit concerning My Sweet Lord, written when Harrison was influenced by the Krishnas.

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Date: September 05, 2013 12:18AM

More proof that meditation can be dangerous from The Complete Healer by David Furlong:

"I once had the opportunity of interviewing Drukchen Rinpoche, a lama from Tibet, who perceives himself a direct incarnation of Avolokitsvara, the Tibetan Buddha of Compassion. In China this Buddha became transformed into the goddess of compassion called Kwan-Yin. Asking Drukchen about meditation he affirmed its importance in the spiritual life. Questioning him further on how long we should meditate he said surprisingly, 'No more than five minutes per day'. Going on he said 'People are crazy and meditation can make you more crazy'. The most important aspect of meditation for him was holding the focus of your mind on what it is that you are meditating upon. Far better, he said, to spend 5 minutes of concentrated thought than 50 minutes in mindless drift. Meditation does not therefore need to take up a long period in your life, but can be very easily incorporated into your time schedules. Normally I will spend five minutes every morning and evening in meditation and only extend this period if there is specific information that I am trying to access, understand or balance within me. Indeed, seen at another level, if meditation is directed to allowing the spiritual self full expression within us, then our whole life can become a form of meditation." (pages 50 - 51)

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Re: Dangers of Meditation
Date: September 05, 2013 12:54AM

Nice to see a piece acknowledging the need to deal with narcissism, as I find that narcissism is becoming the new norm.

The original post also includes links to related articles.

Meditation: The darker side of a good thing

By Douglas Todd

August 7, 2009. 10:35 pm • Section: The Search

Tens of millions of North Americans are now into meditation; practising stillness to deal with their frantic, whirling thoughts. Most meditators’ aim is to remain calm in the midst of life’s struggles.

Instead of being buffeted about by harsh events, many meditators in Canada and the U.S. try to “detach” from their feelings and impulses, thinking that will liberate them from suffering.

A recent Vancouver Sun poll conducted by the Mustel Group found one out of three British Columbians, roughly 1.4 million people, have practiced meditation. That doesn’t include many more who practise prayer in a contemplative way.

I believe meditation and contemplation are generally positive responses to North America’s culture of busyness.

But can meditation, contemplation and related practices encourage people to detach too effectively from their so-called negative thoughts, leading them to actually detach from life itself?

Can meditation even feed into the North American consumer society’s predilection toward narcissism, which sees individuals cultivating an inflated sense of their own importance?

The potential dark side of meditation is something of which to be aware.

In his brilliant book, The Psychoanalytic Mystic, Michael Eigen, tells the stories of two highly adept meditators who deep down, to put it in the vernacular, were not happy campers.

Eigen, a New York psychoanalyst who appreciates both Buddhism and his Jewish upbringing, profiles one respected meditation teacher who, when he came to therapy, was depressed and anxious and having trouble functioning.

“Owen,” as Eigen calls the client, believed that, since he was an accomplished Buddhist meditation teacher, he was superior to the therapist, who was only a part-time meditator.

Eigen began discovering about Owen that he did not come from a home in which he was hurt. In fact, he had been indulged by his mother.

Owen’s long periods of pleasant meditation on the concept of Buddhist Emptiness, Eigen says, paralleled his early childhood sensations of his mother’s doting affection. For Owen, “inflated maternal support blossomed in the Void,” Eigen writes, with a certain wryness.

Since Owen’s Buddhism instructed him not to hold onto such idealized maternal feelings, but to “detach” from them, Eigen believes the meditator never really confronted their negative ramifications.

In other words, Eigen believes Owen used meditation to deny his own dark side. The meditator felt himself better than others, including his students, and often privately denigrated them.

Eigen saw a similar dynamic in another veteran meditator, “Jesse,” a successful Wall Street analyst who came to therapy to deal with chronic fatigue syndrome and nausea.

Jesse often reflected on life’s possibilities in meditation, writes Eigen. “Meditation catalyzed Jesse’s creativity and heightened his already acute awareness of shifting sensations, moods and feelings.”

Although Jesse was a nice guy who seemed “open,” in his constant search for something new, he became insensitive to women and others. Eigen says Jesse really needed to control people, because they threatened him.

Jesse attended meditation centres for years, but Eigen believes meditation threw Jesse back into himself. What Jesse needed, in the end, was less meditation and more connection.

As Eigen says: “Jessie needed simple human contact, not Enlightenment.”

Thinking of Owen and Jessie together, Eigen believes they both hurt themselves by trying to escape from other people through meditation.

The meditators did not integrate life’s inevitable suffering and limitations into their own being, says Eigen. Focussing on their inner lives, neither Owen nor Jessie allowed themselves to be “transformed” by others.

Ken Wilber, another sophisticated spiritual thinker who is working to integate psychology, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and philosophy, also warns against North Americans treating meditation as a be-all and end-all.

Even though Wilber meditates himself, he laments how meditation in the U.S. and Canada is often accompanied by an attitude he calls “Boomeritis Buddhism.”

That is, Wilber believes many middle-aged baby-boomers who meditate bring to it an over-simplified commitment to pluralism and relativism and the notion that, “You do your thing and I’ll do mine.”

Meditation, Wilber said, does not necessarily help such individualistic people face their inner “Shadows,” the destructive aspects of their personalities.

Instead, Wilber says, when Eastern meditation teachers tell people to “kill their egos,” it runs the danger the students might “dis-identify” with their more unpleasant personality traits.

Meditation for many “becomes a process of transcend and deny … rather than transcend and include,” Wilber writes in his book, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World.

The Eastern teaching that people should have “no ego,” an idea espoused by Vancouver-based spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and many others, encourages meditators to try to be “empty,” to have no viewpoint, says Wilber.

The trouble is many meditators believe that means having no viewpoints at all, even on important issues. As Wilber says, many meditators don’t believe in anything.

Although Wilber thinks people can through meditation reach elevated states of consciousness that can help them become more mature, he says there is no guarantee mediation will free men or women from their own narcissism.

I appreciate the way both Eigen and Wilber conclude that meditation can be beneficial, but that it’s only part of what’s necessary to reach maturity.

The true goal of meditation, and any spiritual discipline, is not only to “empty” oneself of negative feelings and thoughts, but to face one’s own inner demons. That leads, in a sense, to feeling “full” — in connection with yourself, others and transcendent values.

Meditation should lead to the development of wise beliefs, which Wilber says require a commitment to “compassion for all sentient things.” In turn, that requires developing a self (or ego) that is skilful enough to put compassion into practical action.

In other words, meditation and Buddhism have a lot to offer, but so do Judaism, Christianity and other spiritual and psychological paths that emphasize transformation and living life to the fullest.

As Eigen sums up: “No religion or therapeutic methods holds the best cards in all games.”

Or, as Wilber concludes: “Meditation is not wrong, but partial.”


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