Top 10 Reasons NOT to Meditate (and Why They're Wrong!)
The following are my Top 10 Reasons Not to Meditate (and why they're wrong).
I used to think that the spiritual path was a waste of time or a distraction from reality “out there” as conveyed to me by my senses. I used to think that the senses and this body were all we had so we might as well pleasure them and indulge them as much as we could.
I thought phrases like “everlasting peace” or “go with the flow of the universe,” sounded pretty boring and monotonous and bland and also dumb and short-shighted. Who would want to end up as a couch potato with no job, no income, and no life?
Religions and mystics all too often seem to ignore science and facts. Don’t hard core religious people tend to reject evolution, deny that humans are contributing to climate change and take scientifically nonsensical and internally contradictory religious texts like the Koran or the Bible as God’s word and the complete and perfect truth? And where was the proof that God himself existed? If God is real and as powerful as advertised, it would be pretty easy for him to have been accurate in writing these religious texts or for him to prove his existence to us and show us which religion he belonged to.
I found that the traditions that didn’t seem absurdly primitive and unscientific were too distant culturally for me to adopt. I would put traditions such as Buddhism and possibly indigenous American and Polynesian traditions such as the Huna or Toltec systems in this category. I gravitated to Buddhism in particular because it explicitly rejected dogma and the notion of super natural beings and did seem to ground itself in verifiable truths or, if not science per se, at least subjected itself to being proven by experience and open to scientific investigation. But was I really going to shave my head, move to Asia and don the yellow robes of a Buddhist monk? Or walk around as a modern day Huna magician? Uh, No.
I feared that these systems, especially Buddhism with its doctrine of non-attachment and non-self, would lead to my death or the intellectual or emotional equivalent. Images of half-naked and starved near to death monks in a cave in Tibet or Christian monks cloistered away from their families and friends, sleeping on beds of nails and whipping themselves in penance sprang to mind.
So if I wasn’t going to adopt one religion in particular, what were my options? I always cringed at the idea that each person could pick and choose the bits they liked from each spiritual tradition and change the things they chose willy nilly. And purely using only the scientifically proven bits also seemed risky. Looking at the science of a hundred years ago or imagining the science a hundred years from now didn’t give me much hope that today’s knowledge would be definitive. So I was left for many years with no practice of systematically optimizing my health and sense of well-being.
To me it looked like choosing a path of humility and mercy and forgiveness would make me into a push-over and a victim. My simple minded understanding of doctrines like “turning the other cheek” that wise people from Buddha to Jesus advocated, made me worried that pursuing these practices to their end meant I would become a doormat and just have to accept the fact that people were going to take advantage of me and walk all over me.
I have always had a lot of energy and the stamina to sustain an activity longer than average. Perhaps because of this, I used to think I could use the brute force of my body and intellectual intensity to reach this state of optimal physical and psychological health.
Then we have this place they call heaven or paradise. My carefully considered view was that the place on the other side of the pearly gates was a fiction and therefore following some ancient and irrelevant person’s commandments in order to get in through those gates was silly and childish. And the methods to achieve that state (or place) often involved rituals that seemed bizarre and cultish to me (especially from the Judeo-Christian tradition that I knew best). I had a knee jerk negative reaction to any method that had a god, commandments, a creed, lots of rules or some other dogma.
This is a biggie. Most people alive today (and probably most who have ever lived) suffer needlessly and die awful deaths. Isn’t that evidence enough against the idea that life is perfect already or that continual happiness and health is available to each and every one of us?
Well, I have concluded after many years of intensive searching on these questions that I was wrong about all ten. You can listen to this episode of the podcast to find out the short version of why I think they're all wrong. And stay tuned for the next few episodes of the podcast where I will be going in to more detail.