As many of us have experienced, it can be hard to speak with family and friends about our meditation practice. And yet it is so important to be able to speak about what we believe and to do it with courage.
Not long ago I came across this very simple statement from the Buddha in a book by the great Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh:
Love is understanding.
I find this to be such a beautiful statement and I think it reveals a lot about how the practice of meditation can change the world and make us more loving. Here are a few reflections…
A little while ago I had a radio interview with the Dutch Buddhist Broadcasting company, and one of the things I talked a lot about with the interviewer was the relation between my meditation practice and my passion for ballet. Then when I read the wonderful book Confessions of a gypsy yogini by fellow blogger Marcia Dechen Wangmo, where she wrote about her passion for dance, I decided it was time to blog about it.
If you live near San Francisco and are interested in finding more out about meditation and the What Meditation Really Is program here are two events you should consider checking out. I will be at both of them.
Meditation can teach us a lot about the power of silence - how to listen and simply be present. In a meditation workshop I recently lead, Diana, a young social work student raised her hand after some hesitation at the end a short session of sitting. “I have never sat in a room with strangers in complete silence intentionally.” She took a deep breath. “First, I felt uncomfortable with the situation. Then I realized that I had absolutely nothing to say or do! I had nothing to prove, didn’t have to be this way or that way for anyone. Silence. Wow, …what freedom!” Everyone in the room broke into laughter, relieved, as she stated the obvious. In our culture we are uncomfortable with silence.
Recently I had some ideas and insights – partly based on personal experiences I can’t share in public – that I thought might be worthwhile to write a few lines about. I basically became more aware of how stubborn my behaviour and my thinking is, how much I hold on to procedures and static opinions or viewpoints. Which prevents me from living my potential. Which is the whole point about meditation, isn’t it?
Marvin Minsky talks about the “sense of self”, awareness and consciousness.
When I was in Boston a month or so ago, I got a chance to visit with Marvin Minsky. Professor Minsky was the co-founder of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT and one of the pioneers in the field of computer science and robotics.
Since the early 1950s, Marvin Minsky has worked on using computational ideas to characterize human psychological processes, as well as working to endow machines with intelligence. In the early 1970s, Minsky and Seymour Papert began formulating a theory called The Society of Mind which combined insights from developmental child psychology and their experience with research on Artificial Intelligence. The Society of Mind proposes that intelligence is not the product of any singular mechanism, but comes from the managed interaction of a diverse variety of resourceful agents.
So I thought it might be fun to ask him some questions about what is the “sense of self”, awareness and consciousness.
There’s so much information available to us on how to meditate, when to meditate, even with whom to meditate. With what we have available, you’d think that we’d all be able to master meditation with ease. Nope!
Since first learning to meditate, after years of meditation, I’ve come to realize that there’s something that is definitely opposed to my peace of mind and finding my “meditative mind,” and that is…the soap opera mind!