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The Morality of Meditation

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Meditation to gain the competitive edge? What would the Buddha think? No matter--meditation generates compassion, which is always a good thing. The Buddha would like that unconsidered consequence, I think. 

in sports, this concept is not new...but it is not always called meditation

Jared, what do they call it / what do they do in sports?

Visualization, more or less in sports. I had a coach once who would make us visualize 100 foul shots hitting. And no one dared not visualize those #$%%$^ shots, because that man knew...I'd be running laps still. Wish I could tell you I had a stellar result, but I wasn't fantastic to begin with so maybe I'dve been worse...

Fear of running laps seems like a bad way to motivate someone.

What would the Buddha think?

This is all well and good, but if you stop to think about it, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the (perfectly commendable) pursuit of these benefits and the purpose for which meditation was originally intended. Gaining competitive advantage on exams and increasing creativity in business weren’t of the utmost concern to Buddha and other early meditation teachers. As Buddha himself said, “I teach one thing and one only: that is, suffering and the end of suffering.” For Buddha, as for many modern spiritual leaders, the goal of meditation was as simple as that. The heightened control of the mind that meditation offers was supposed to help its practitioners see the world in a new and more compassionate way, allowing them to break free from the categorizations (us/them, self/other) that commonly divide people from one another.

Meditation increased the compassionate response threefold:

Although only 16 percent of the nonmeditators gave up their seats — an admittedly disheartening fact — the proportion rose to 50 percent among those who had meditated. This increase is impressive not solely because it occurred after only eight weeks of meditation, but also because it did so within the context of a situation known to inhibit considerate behavior: witnessing others ignoring a person in distress — what psychologists call the bystander effect — reduces the odds that any single individual will help.

Meditation increases feelings of interconnectedness and empathy:

Although we don’t yet know why meditation has this effect, one of two explanations seems likely. The first rests on meditation’s documented ability to enhance attention, which might in turn increase the odds of noticing someone in pain (as opposed to being lost in one’s own thoughts).

My favored explanation, though, derives from a different aspect of meditation: its ability to foster a view that all beings are interconnected. The psychologist Piercarlo Valdesolo and I have found that any marker of affiliation between two people, even something as subtle as tapping their hands together in synchrony, causes them to feel more compassion for each other when distressed. The increased compassion of meditators, then, might stem directly from meditation’s ability to dissolve the artificial social distinctions — ethnicity, religion, ideology and the like — that divide us.

The Buddha would not judge. 

Well played, Christina.

Thank you for posting this.  A life-changing insight that I am telling many others about.

I told Dawn I appreciated her posting this, too.

Thank you, both:) 

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