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I've begun teaching my course on Mindfulness at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now called Sofia University) this week (September 25,2012), and think that some remarks and diagrams I created for my students to help clarify some things about two kinds of concentration and their use in meditation would be of general interest. While “progress” in spiritual development calls for profoundly more than better words, I do note that physical science has made enormous progress in the last few hundred years, but it’s not clear that spiritual knowledge and development have made much, if any, “progress.” One element allowing progress in basic science has been precise definition and usage of key terms, which allows for clear communication of observations and understandings.

Published in Meditation Blog

All through my life, I’ve wished that I could reduce or eliminate the suffering that others go through. I guess this is built into the basic pre-programming that comes with being human. Most of the time this desire is in relative abeyance and I’m distracted from it, as I'm busy coping with my life. There are people in my life with a lot of pain, but I don’t think about it often as there’s nothing practical that can be done about it --- and I hate problems I want to help with but can’t do anything about! And, like all of us, I have (too) many defenses which blunt my perception of others’ suffering – that’s something I’ve needed to work with all my life.

Published in Meditation Blog

While my wife and I were on our Fall camping vacation last week, I was "meditating" near a pathway in a botanical garden on cliffs over the Pacific while she was taking photos. The rugged coast of northern California is so beautiful!

Since I'm always going on about how useless that word "meditation" is, unless you get a lot more specific about exactly what a person is actually doing, let me elaborate on that.

Published in Meditation Blog

One of the things I've tried to do most of my life, both in my personal and professional lives, has been to become aware of the more subtle aspects of what I'm thinking, feeling, and doing. I especially like to become aware of implicit assumptions that lie behind what I'm doing, outside of my normal consciousness, as such assumptions can control what I'm thinking, feeling, and doing in ways that I'm not aware of, thus limiting my freedom and having consequences for the people I relate to insofar as such implicit assumptions affect the way I act.

Published in Meditation Blog

Pain and Suffering:

Some years ago I came across and was very impressed by Shinzen Young's approximate algebraic formulation of the relationship of suffering to actual physical pain and psychological factors (see http://www.shinzen.org for relevant writings or his book, Break Through Pain: A Step-by-Step Mindfulness Meditation Program for Transforming Chronic and Acute Pain).  Having a scientific and psychological mindset similar to his, I have been thinking about and conceptualizing variations and extensions of this for years. 


Published in Meditation Blog
Monday, 05 December 2011 14:15

That word "Meditation"

When I become the Czar of Worldwide Words, I'm going to abolish the word "meditation."

Isn't that an odd way to start a blog on meditation? Gets your attention, though.

My post here will be written mainly from my role as a scientist, as a psychologist, as one of the founders of a relatively new branch of psychology, Transpersonal Psychology, although as a student of meditation and spiritual paths all my life, my perspective is "inside" and well as "outside."

As a field, mainstream psychology pretty much accepts the materialistic assumptions that dominate in most fields of science today, that only what is material is real, matter and physical energy. The physical matter and electrical and chemical processes of your brain are real, consciousness is nothing but a secondary derivative of those physical processes. From this perspective, all those things called "meditation" are indirect ways of controlling your physical brain's functioning, and so someday you won't have to spend all those (too often boring) hours sitting, because science will develop a pill that directly puts the brain in the best "meditative" state. "Spirit" or "spirituality," from the materialistic perspective, is simply old fashioned nonsense, superstition, and best dispensed with, as it interferes with our rational functioning.

Published in Meditation Blog