Neo-Buddhist meditation is incoherent in every way

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
Neo-Buddhist meditation is wrong for Christians because it leads to spiritual delusion and hypocrisy. It causes the user to engage in mental and spiritual intercourse with unknown spirits and unqualified teachers. You wouldn't invite random strangers into your bedroom, so you shouldn't invite random doctrines and spiritual forces into your very soul.

But did you know that this false meditation is actually also wrong even by Buddhism's own standards?

We are currently in the age of "dharma decline", where proper Buddhism cannot be practiced.

The earliest tradition offering a specific figure for the duration of the dharma predicts that Buddhism will endure for only five hundred years. This prophecy, found in the vinaya texts of several different ordination lineages (nikāya) and dating from perhaps a century or so after the Buddha's death, is generally intertwined with the claim that Buddhism would have survived for a full one thousand years were it not for the fateful decision made by Śākyamuni to ordain women as well as men. As a direct result of the presence of nuns within the monastic community, the life span of the Buddhist teachings will be cut in half.

Theravadin Buddhists had not meditated for many hundreds of years.


On the contrary, instead of meditating, the majority of Theravadins and dedicated Buddhists of other traditions, including monks and nuns, have focused on cultivating moral behavior, preserving the Buddha’s teachings (dharma), and acquiring the good karma that comes from generous giving. To be sure, such folks have recognized the critical role meditation plays in awakening—in the Theravada view, you cannot become enlightened without such practice—but they have not doubted that one can live a worthwhile and authentic Buddhist life without meditating. Aiming not toward awakening but toward a good rebirth, many Theravadins have even argued that meditation is inappropriate in our degenerate age, except perhaps for a rare few living in the isolation of jungles or mountain caves.

British thieves who stole holy books, as well as folk revivalist figures trying to make a fortune, started the meditation movement as late as the 1880s.

This question brings us to Burma just over a century ago. Prior to this time, no trend toward widespread meditation had developed anywhere. It is true that Thai forest masters, above all Ajaan Mun (1870–1949) and revivalist figures in Sri Lanka such as Dharmapala (1864–1933), played an important part in the establishment of insight practice and sounded the call for lay meditation. But they did not spark any broad-based movements. One must look instead to Burma to account for the ascendance of meditation to a popular practice—specifically, that of insight meditation. The Vipassana view understood meditation as the logical and even necessary application of a Buddhist perspective to one’s life, whether lay or monastic. The rise of this practice, however, was not strictly an indigenous development. It came into being specifically through colonial influence. (In fact, no current tradition of insight practice can reliably trace its history back further than the late 19th or early 20th century.) Though now a global movement, insight practice had its start in a moment of interaction between a Western empire and an Eastern dynasty. Indeed, one could go so far as to pinpoint its origins to a particular day: November 28, 1885, when the British Imperial Army conquered the Buddhist kingdom of Burma.
This intense and unprecedented lay interest in all things Buddhist supported the rise of talented monks who became superstar preachers to the laity. Lowering the fans that had traditionally covered their faces during dharma talks, they created a style that was soon dubbed “fan down.” These preachers reached immense audiences—at times, tens of thousands of people—and used an easy-to-understand and engaging style. To drum up interest, some monks even adopted stage names that appropriated the names of popular actors. (This would be like an American monk trying to raise his profile by calling himself Bhikkhu Brad Pitt.)

Pretty much the only "living" Buddhism that supports meditation practice is Mahayana Buddhism, especially Chan/Zen, transmitted to China, Japan, and Korea. These Buddhists have different ideas on the dharma decline. In Japan, it's common for "monks" to get married and they even eat meat too, so I'm really not sure how serious they are about enlightenment these days.

And even among dedicated practitioners, the meditation practice is associated with monastic life, strict teachers, learning orthodox doctrines, and painful beatings and discipline; it isn't an app that you download on your phone where you pray while waiting to get an iced latte. There is a concept called "Dharma transmission" which refers to the teaching passed from a teacher to a dedicated disciple. It isn't a fun game that you play by yourself and it's hardly accessible to any laypeople. The modern individualist says "I want to meditate at all costs, even if I'm not a monk, and even if it causes delusion!" but the actual traditional Buddhist would say "I will keep accumulating good karma through good deeds, and then I will be reincarnated as a monk one day" -- Do you see the difference?

BTW, take a look at the famous teachers of "American Zen", and you will notice they all have one strange affiliation in common with each other :)

Thanks for reading.
 
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RexImperator

Crow
Gold Member
If all that Buddhist theology stuff is put aside, can the actual practice of meditation be useful for Christians? For instance, I’ve wondered if there was some connection between the Christian concept of Kenosis and the “emptying of the mind” so-to-speak in meditation. Surely there’s a connection to Stoicism, which played a role in the development of Christianity.
 
Im glad you brought this up.

The decline of modern buddhism is an interesting phenomenon.

Theres a few trends at work. This issue of revivals and reactions to colonial rule is true, especially how the official accepted image or accepted practices of a religion change so fast and so quickly and what went before seems to be forgotten.

Phones have gutted common buddhist practice across Asia and some of the peoples who were the most committed to old fashioned values and daily conduct based on mindfulness are now ridiculously phone addicted. people like the Lao and the rural Thais have turned in a generation into kind of big fat goofy versions of Filipinos with scattered attention spans added on. Its all happened so fast and only the older generations can remember anything different.

Its also all become ridiculously superficial in practice.

As for Western Buddhism it is a joke now. It went (increasingly) very new age self-obsessed psychological in the 70s 80s 90s and then changed with social media to the point where it is now Left wing political activism with just lip service to buddhism.
Most buddhist groups in their congregations and announcements seem addicted to the news cycle and take a very CNN approach to each bulletin that they pay breathless attention to.
Back in the 90s one of the main things buddhist teachers told their students to do was not to watch TV and to practice a "media fast" on anything and everything that did not apply to their immediate lives and professions. Massive change.
Now its all BLM Ruth Bader Ginsburg Latest Trump outrage etc. They have become Pavlovian automatons.

Back in the 90s it was always being whispered over herbal tea/kombucha by buddhist leaders at smaller local or regional levels that American Buddhist leaders all seemed to be Middle Aged Jews from the Mid West. Always met with a knowing look, headshake and a shrug.

Look where it is now..
 

Marmion

Pigeon
“We do not come to God with bodily steps, but with those of the mind, the first of which is faith.”St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on John 6, lect. 4.
Yoga-like breathing techniques are not the way!
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
If all that Buddhist theology stuff is put aside, can the actual practice of meditation be useful for Christians? For instance, I’ve wondered if there was some connection between the Christian concept of Kenosis and the “emptying of the mind” so-to-speak in meditation. Surely there’s a connection to Stoicism, which played a role in the development of Christianity.

I think that being your own priest is always dangerous, and that's pretty much the essence of modern neo-meditation. You're performing your own sacraments for yourself because you think it's "useful" or "cool" even though it's theologically incoherent by every standard.

In my humble opinion, the Holy Rosary of the Catholic Church is the best meditative practice for laypersons in the context of a busy secular life. Chanting the psalms is also pretty traditional.

As far as I can tell from the Eastern Orthodox monastic writings, if you simply must do something resembling emptying meditation, it's extremely technical and requires spiritual mentorship, asceticism, and real commitment to avoiding delusion, as part of the Noetic Prayer tradition. However, I think that you are allowed to pray it out loud, using your own voice, saying "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner", even if you do not have a spiritual mentor.
 
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Marmion

Pigeon
I think that being your own priest is always dangerous, and that's pretty much the essence of modern neo-meditation. You're performing your own sacraments for yourself because you think it's "useful" or "cool" even though it's theologically incoherent by every standard.

In my humble opinion, the Holy Rosary of the Catholic Church is the best meditative practice for laypersons in the context of a busy secular life. If you are outside the Catholic Church, you may be interested in praying the Psalter.
“Among the various supplications with which we successfully appeal to the Virgin Mother of God, the Holy Rosary without doubt occupies a special and distinct place. This prayer, which some call the Psalter of the Virgin or Breviary of the Gospel and of Christian life, was described and recommended by Our Predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII” --Pope Pius XI

“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” - Pope Leo XIII

"Of all prayers rosary is the most beautiful and the richest in graces; of all it is the one which is most pleasing to Mary, the Virgin Most Holy. Therefore, love the Rosary and recite it every day with devotion: this is the testament which I leave unto you so that you may remember me by it." - St. Pius X

"Of all prayers rosary is the most beautiful and the richest in graces; of all it is the one which is most pleasing to Mary, the Virgin Most Holy. Therefore, love the Rosary and recite it every day with devotion: this is the testament which I leave unto you so that you may remember me by it." - St. Pius X

If you must do something resembling emptying meditation, as far as I can tell from the Eastern Orthodox monastic writings, it's extremely technical and requires spiritual mentorship, asceticism, and real commitment to avoiding delusion, as part of the Noetic Prayer tradition. (However, I think that you are allowed to pray it out loud, with the words "me, a sinner" added on, even if you do not have a spiritual mentor)
“Hesychasts...defended the theory that it is possible by an elaborate system of asceticism, detachment from earthly cares, submission to an approved master, prayer, especially perfect repose of body and will, to see a mystic light; which is none other than the uncreated light of God...There was a regular process for seeing the uncreated light; the body was to be held immovable for a long time, the chin pressed against the breast, the breath held, the eyes turned in, and so on. Then in due time the monk began to see the wonderful light. The likeness of this process of auto-suggestion to that of fakirs, Sunnyasis, and such people all over the East is obvious...There seems also to have been a strong element of the pantheism that so often accompanies mysticism in the fully developed Hesychast system. By contemplating the uncreated light one became united with God so intimately that one became absorbed in Him.
This suspicion of pantheism (never very remote from neo-platonic theories) is constantly insisted on by the opponents of the system.”

Probably be best to avoid that altogether.
 

Pantheon

Sparrow
Orthodox
If all that Buddhist theology stuff is put aside, can the actual practice of meditation be useful for Christians? For instance, I’ve wondered if there was some connection between the Christian concept of Kenosis and the “emptying of the mind” so-to-speak in meditation. Surely there’s a connection to Stoicism, which played a role in the development of Christianity.

In the sense of observing and detaching from ones thoughts, yes. One can use meditation to direct the will towards the good and become more self-aware. My Orthodox prayer book says in the beginning that self-knowledge is the highest science. When you think about it, the modern world directs all attention to gain objective knowledge of the outer world, but very little attention and care to the Self.
 

El Draque

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Interesting topic.

Meditation is anodyne and lacking any real compass that prayer & building a connection to Jesus will bring. The sort of 'Mindhack Meditation' which has become so prevalent in the west though, just seems like another 'one weird trick' self obssessiveness.

That said, i can't see there's anything too bad about doing a bit of deep breathing and focussed relaxation, if that helps you with performance in sport, or giving presentations or whatever.

The problem is it's been pushed into a world that's turned its back on God & on prayer. So it's a sacharine band aid to the ills that will befall a man, and by extension a society, that replaces them with such a frivolous, person-centred pursuit as meditation.
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
Meditation is anodyne and lacking any real compass that prayer & building a connection to Jesus will bring. The sort of 'Mindhack Meditation' which has become so prevalent in the west though, just seems like another 'one weird trick' self obssessiveness.

That said, i can't see there's anything too bad about doing a bit of deep breathing and focussed relaxation, if that helps you with performance in sport, or giving presentations or whatever.

In the sense of observing and detaching from ones thoughts, yes. One can use meditation to direct the will towards the good and become more self-aware.

I think you two need to be careful here. When talking about deep breathing, it really depends what tradition and zeitgeist is carrying the teaching forward. For example, we know that modern American bodybuilding is derived from Jonathan Gold and Arnold Schwarzenegger; that's the tradition we inherited; we are following in their footsteps. Likewise, if you're huffing and puffing your breath while visualizing your happy space because of the Mindfulness Movement then you're still participating in what is essentially a heretical religious practice and traditions derived from it.

If you've ever witnessed a modern western "anxiety-reducing meditation circle" before (as I have had the misfortune of seeing, so many times), it becomes incredibly obvious that it is an actual religious practice, and not a good one. We need actual Christian priests to deep-dive into this stuff and clean it up for the faithful believers before inviting them into our souls.
 

El Draque

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Reminds me of the exchange between Wilder & Fury, when Wilder was talking about channeling 'the bronzed bomber' before fights. Wilder is practitioner of meditation too as i recall.

 
Just to underline how insane buddhism in the West has become. (It has become SJW-ism rather than Buddhism.
This also applies to the westernized middle class in SE Asian countries who are hugely into virtue signaling and keen to be seen following trends)... -

This is the kind of stuff being pushed as buddhism now >


'May 25th - Black Lives Matter ritual and fundraiser

To mark the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, we’ll be hosting a special Black Lives Matter ritual evening and fundraiser. All proceeds will go to support Blueprint for All.

Please bring any poems, quotes or readings you’d like to share, the names of BIPOC/BAME people who’s lives have been lost due to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence, and a message of solidarity with Black lives everywhere.
"

This stuff is everywhere in Buddhism. people can't practice just buddhism any more.. if they try to go in for group practice then they are forced to take part in political theatre.

There was a virtual talk given by a teacher last summer where he gave a teaching on basic buddhist perspectives and said that ultimately there is never a justification for hate and anger - that these things are always hindrances which must be tackled eventually.
Immediately the chat went mad and one of the guys behind the camera said "er, people are saying in the chat.. um, what about systemic racism? another voice said "yes, they're saying what about racism?"

And then the teacher very clumsily did his best to square the circle and said "Oh yes yes.. No no, I didn't mean about racism..! there are things that are different". So - according to a religious teacher SJW-ism trumps the ultimate teachings of his religion. Outstanding.

At least one teacher acknowledged the problem recently:
"It seems to me that most British and American Buddhists share a political viewpoint. It seems that the vast majority of them are left wing, and some of the younger ones ‘woke’. Consequently, they are surprised when a Buddhist, such as myself, expresses a different viewpoint, or challenges theirs.
When Extinction Rebellion first hit the headlines a few years ago, many members of our community began talking about and advocating involvement in XR, and still are. Soon after the death of George Floyd in America the same thing happened with regard to Black Lives Matter. XR and BLM both have very strong political ideologies behind them, which my Buddhist friends were either unaware of, or agreed with, or chose to overlook. Either way, they were bringing political ideologies, knowingly or not, into our Buddhist movement."

Not that Christians on this forum need trouble themselves with any of this.
They have probably seen the same phenomenon happen in various Christian Churches in the West.
May be diverting for 2 minutes to see the madness swallowing up other religions whole though..
 

Knight.of.Logos

Robin
Orthodox Catechumen
Certain relaxation techniques are in my opinion neutral and can help a person if they are already on the right path. I don't even know if these would count as meditation, per se, as they aren't really about emptying the mind as much as breathing in particular ways to get into a more parasympathetic state and thus lower stress or anxiety. I still do these sometimes, but if anybody has any evidence from a valid Orthodox source these are harmful, I would be happy to hear it. Honestly, I don't really need to do them much since I can do the Jesus Prayer or a longer prayer, but there are situations where I'd rather not pray (such as in public) and can do a breathing relaxation technique to calm down.

Then there are some meditation techniques such as kundalini yoga that seem to me to be clearly demonic. I am glad I never messed with these techniques.

Buddhist meditation seems to be more subtle, but the "openness" can lead to demonic influence, similar to psychedelic drugs (though meditation is not as obviously bad). Buddhist meditation can result in one making an idol of themselves, and lead to psychoses and/or people's minds turning soft and weak. I used to be interested and involved in meditation and one of my friends who was very into it ended up being suicidal, though he did have a rough childhood. I was fortunate that it never messed me up too bad, but it did lead me astray, soften my mind, and make me prideful sometimes -- "look how spiritual I am," or "look at how dead my ego is, I'm doing great." Meditation is kind of like masturbation for the mind. It is a cheap imitation of the real thing, and it makes a person become soft and deluded. I repent from this and may God have mercy on me for my error. I am thankful that I eventually found Christ and the true way, though I am only at an early stage.
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker


Vogt wasn't the first to die by suicide after a meditation retreat, according to experts who are aware of other cases. And she wasn't the first to go into psychosis or experience serious mental issues after taking a grueling course, which can involve 10 hours a day of strict meditation.

While such tragic outcomes are rare, there is a growing body of research that highlights the possible dark side of intense meditation.

The research highlights the need for greater education and potentially, reforms, around meditation centers.


Adverse effects of meditation were assessed in twenty-seven long term meditators (average 4.27 years) both retrospectively (time one) and prospectively at one month (time two) and six months (time three) following a meditation retreat. At both time one and time three subjects reported significantly more positive effects than negative from meditation. However, of the twenty-seven subjects, seventeen (62.9%) reported at least one adverse effect, and two (7.4%) suffered profound adverse effects. When subjects at time one were divided into three groups based on length of practice (16.7 months; 47.1 months; 105 months) there were no significant differences in adverse effects. How the data should be interpreted, and their implications both for the clinical and psychotherapeutic use of meditation as a relaxation/self-control strategy, and as a technique for facilitating personal and spiritual growth, are discussed. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are also offered.
 
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