The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Further Notes on Meditation and Cultivation

One of the great problems with most commentators on religion, spirituality, and even philosophy is that they have not cultivated. If you have not seriously cultivated (which includes more than meditation), your odds of understanding what the founders of the great religions were trying to do are small.  You cannot understand philosophers with attainments, and you certainly can’t understand the mysticism.

Kali standing on Shiva's corpse

Kali standing on Shiva’s corpse

Such people are reduced to literalism, or to muttering about hallucinations and delusions. They listen to Socrates, through Plato, saying “no man knowingly does evil” and can only say “this is nonsense”—which it is, if you’re unenlightened, because what certain enlightened people mean by knowledge isn’t what ordinary people take as knowledge.

Let’s start there: Socrates was known to freeze in place and lose all sense of the outer world. This is most likely Samadhi, a type of (very deep) trance state. Buddhists list three types, but anyone who can do even the lowest is an advanced adept.

Krishnamurti claimed that to him moral facts were facts in the same way that physical facts are. If you see a train bearing on you, you jump out of the way. When moral facts are perceived the same way, known the same way, that knowledge is very different from your knowledge that “I shouldn’t kill.”

No one who knows moral facts in that way does wrong if they can possibly avoid it. All knowledge prior to that is not knowledge in the sense that an advanced adept means the word.

In fact, such adepts will tell you that you really don’t know anything. Nothing. This is very common in Buddhism. The world is illusion, mediated through the senses and the mind, both of which are inherently unreliable. You know nothing.

The Delphic Oracle said that Socrates was the wisest man in Greece. He said it was because other people thought they knew something, but he knew he knew nothing. (Careful reading of the dialogues will indicate he did believe he knew some things, but not in the way ordinary people do.)

What are the early Socratic dialogues about? Proving to other people that they don’t know anything.

This is similar to Zen Koans: The idea is to break people’s conditioning and mental models. When you realize that intellectual thought can’t actually grasp true knowledge and stop trying, you create space to actually understand. (More on this further down.)

Let us step to another matter: “Turn the other cheek.” Another common enlightenment experience is that other people are you. Everyone is just a mask on the same underlying reality: God, Awareness, the Tao, whatever. We are the same entity. If you hit yourself does it make sense to hit yourself again in response? To someone who literally perceives everyone in the world as themselves the idea of responding to violence with violence is counterproductive, insane.

Progress on the cultivation path requires learning how to stop paying attention. If you watch your mind, you’ll notice that your attention is always somewhere. On what you’re reading, on what you’re seeing, on what you’re feeling, on the thoughts rushing through your head, on your worries for the future, your regrets for the past, and so on.

Various practices, not just meditation, strive to teach you to not have your attention anywhere. Try it, right now. Try to pay attention to nothing. Unless you’re quite extraordinary, or have done a lot of work, I doubt you can: Your attention’s always somewhere. Maybe you can put it nowhere briefly, for a few seconds. If so that’s actually impressive, most people can’t.

In order to investigate what you actually are, you have to stop paying attention to anything, including your thoughts and feelings.

So the cultivation path spends a ton of time on this. Let’s run through some ways.

Teaching You to Notice and Control Your Awareness.

This is your breath watching —anapana, or a variety of other exercises. You put your attention on something, and you keep it there. Beginners can’t do this for any length of time. Thoughts distract them, itches catch their attention, sounds demand notice, in time one’s heartbeat roars. Once you can put your attention where you want and keep it there, you’re closer to being able to put it nowhere–if there aren’t too many distractions.

Mindfulness Meditation

In mindfulness meditation, you watch your thoughts but don’t get involved in them. As you do so, they tend to die down, but they rarely go away entirely. This isn’t about getting rid of thoughts, though that’s a bonus to whatever extent it happens, it is about learning to, yes, pay no attention to them. And because so many people think they ARE their thoughts, it is about learning that you aren’t your thoughts. If you can pay attention to something, it isn’t you.

Karma Yoga

The God Krishna said that one has the right to one’s work, but not to the results. To a secular type, this sounds horrible, but what he’s saying is this: Don’t worry about it. Do good work, don’t worry about the results, because so much of that is not in your hands. You plant the crops, the rain doesn’t come in time, you get a bad crop. You do your best on the exam, there’s no point in worrying about results.

Confucius told people to do the right thing, but not worry about how doing the right thing worked out in the world. Same idea, and when you also know what the right thing to do is without having to think about it, “never steal, never kill, give charity, do what your father says, etc…” well you also don’t have to think much about what to do. Make most daily behaviour between people ritual “bow x depth to person of Y rank, greet them with z words” and so on, well, a lot more decision making is taken away. You don’t need to think about this, or worry that you did it wrong. Mental space is cleared.

Vows of Poverty, Silence and Monastic Codes

By now you’re getting the idea: more stuff you don’t have to worry about.  Friars or Mendicant monks (like most Buddhists and many Hindu Sanyasan) eat what they are given by people.  That’s it.  They own nothing beyond their clothes and begging bowl, and they don’t work.  They don’t have children to worry about, they no longer care for their parents.  Whole vistas of thought and worry and emotions are cut off.

There are innumerable practices like this. They all reduce cognitive and emotional load.

Who Are You?

Who you are is known: You are awareness. But actually identifying with awareness beyond an intellectual way is damn hard. You reduce all the stuff above to create space, but it is also often necessary to reduce attachments significantly. Mindfulness meditation, as noted, teaches you that you aren’t your thoughts. Vispassana, where you concentrate on body parts or sensations teaches you that you aren’t those parts. You concentrate on a pain in your toe and ask, “Am I that pain?” You concentrate on your heart, your head, your little finger, whatever, “Am I this?” No, you are whatever is aware of the sensation, body part, or sensation.

Then you start doing the same thing with sight and hearing, with things outside your body. Am I that? Of course you aren’t. But in time you begin to wonder what’s so different about that which is “outside” your body, “outside” your mind and that which is inside. Is any of it really “outside?”

You aren’t anything your senses show to you. You are nothing you think. You are nothing you feel. The discriminating intellect can figure this out just through reason, but most people can’t make the leap from that to the experience that you are none of these things, you are the awareness in which all these things reside.

Layers of Enlightenment Experience

There are a lot of different experiences on the enlightenment path. Let’s run through a few.


Hang out in certain cultivation circles and you’ll often overhear the phrase: “There is nothing you can do.” This is deceptive, but it’s a common experience. Krishna talks about this, that the enlightened person does nothing. The actual experience is that your body moves without you, you think without volition, you make decisions without volition, and so on.

Let me point out that this is congruent with science. Scientists can tell when you’ve made a decision, and it happens before “you” are consciously aware of it. In the early enlightenment your mind, your ego, starts perceiving this, and it interprets it as “I didn’t decide to that!” Some people really hate this experience, for reasons I trust are obvious. This isn’t the final enlightenment experience, which for many, reintegrates. Instead it is a point where you don’t identify as what you truly are, awareness, but become aware that your ego/mind is not actually calling the shots.

Everything Is In Me

This experience usually comes after non-doership. Everything except other people is seen as being inside of you. The monitor, the mouse, the walls, the buildings, they are all you. This is supposed to be a wonderful experience, akin to being master of all you see. It’s all you!

Of course it is all you, and it always was. That doesn’t mean it has no independent existence (though it doesn’t seem like it does), this is direct perception of neurological fact: Everything you perceive is through your various senses, which are interpreted by your brain (and maybe a non-physical mind, though you need not believe that). Everything you ever experience is a representation of an outside you can never directly perceive. (Kant: You never know the thing as it is.)

At this point you are experiencing the world as inside you because your only experience of the world is inside you, that’s all.

Cutting the Senses

One of the Yogic goals is to learn how to shut down all the senses. Sense, touch, kinaesthetic, etc… When you do this, what you get is a sense of infinite whiteness. It is very similar (perhaps identical) to many near-death experiences. Certain parts of the brain shut down. The idea here is simple enough: Shut off all senses, see what remains. Cut off the part of the brain that keeps time, and even more mind-bending experiences occur. If you’re a careful thinker you’ll understand why this is valuable.

Causeless Joy

Most of what I’ve written about I haven’t experienced, or I’ve barely touched the edges. I’ve had episodes of this, however. Here’s the odd thing, and I don’t know the reason for it, but when you stop attaching to anything, stop worrying about anything, you get absurdly happy for no goddamn reason. Confucius talked about this, he said that when you acted without worrying about consequences and always acted morally, you would be happy. I’ve never been able to stay there for more than a day at a time, but it’s a very nice place to be, and many adepts manage to sit there permanently. (Also common is to start feeling love for everyone, again with no discernible cause. This is VERY different from what we normally call love, which is contingent, even with our children, but especially with romantic love. I’ve experienced this, though not for any lengthy periods.)

Identification with Awareness

As best I can tell when you actually identify with awareness you avoid suffering.  This is that level. Awareness never suffers. Everything, including pain, happens in awareness, but awareness is not affected or changed by it. This is the part where the advanced adepts start talking about how it’s not this, not that. It has no characteristics, it is affected by nothing, but it creates everything. It is uncreated, blah, blah, blah.  Doesn’t mean you can’t experience pain, and you may do a lot of screaming, but it isn’t suffering, it’s just pain and once it is done, it is done. At this level you really get that everything is ephemeral; that everything ends, that there’s no point in clinging to anything, etc, etc.  No, I’m not there.

Everyone Is One

Common high level experience as noted above. Of course, by common we aren’t actually talking a lot of people, but it has been reported by many of the great masters. Nope, never been even close, myself.

God Identification

There are a couple different levels of this. The first seems to be identification with a specific concept of God, the second is God as cosmic awareness, as all that is, the eternal within everything else resides. Never experienced this, not close to it, and the writing on it is ambiguous. But it is dead common for Yogis, Saints, and mystics of high attainment to say “I am God.”

Religion and Cultivation

The great religions appear to have all been created by people who were advanced on the cultivation path. You can look at them and see the influence.

Prayer, Especially Repetitive Prayer

Ever been told to say 100 Hail Marys? Seen people counting off prayers with prayer beads? This is mantra meditation, which tends to still the mind if done long enough.

Confession and Absolution

Ok, God has forgiven you your sins, so you can stop worrying about it, got it?


Food is one of the hardest things to stop clinging to. Perhaps you should go without food for a while and see it’s not so big a deal. (Note that Mohammed put this into Islam in a big way through Ramadan.)


It’s not that there is anything wrong with sex, but constantly thinking about sex gets in the way of detachment. So, spend enough time not having sex to get over it.  This is also why same sex monastic communities are common: most people are heterosexual, and the less they see of people they find sexually attractive, the easier it is to get over sexual desire.

Buddha is reputed to have said that if there were two desires as strong as sex no one would ever enlighten.

There are also some technical reasons for not having sex or masturbating which may have some validity.

Trust in God, Master, or Guru

We covered this above, but again, if you put your trust in God or Guru and just do what they say, it reduces a pile of worry, decisions, and so on. Of course, this trust can be deeply abused, and I’d never swear obedience to a Guru, but the system has worked for many.

Make No Images of God

If you’re meditating on God (common on the devotional path, noted below), it’s best to have no image, because otherwise you’re meditating on a picture, rather than on something that has no characteristics. (If you can meditate on a God with no characteristics this is incredibly valuable and you will make progress fast.)

Final Notes

You can be a straight atheist or agnostic and progress as a cultivator. The final step in cultivation is often said to be “the end of spirituality.” This is one meaning  of Kali standing over a dead Shiva: The end of spirituality. There is no need to believe in God (though you can conceive of awareness in the broadest sense as God. But you can also call it many other things). What does seem to be a common experience, however, amongst the highest adepts is the idea that your true self is eternal– not immortal, but eternal.

The main things to understand here are: a) the process of learning to pay attention to nothing, and; b) that the experience of enlightenment genuinely changes how you experience and perceive yourself and the world. Enlightenment is not intellectual knowledge, though intellectual knowledge IS helpful on the path, despite what many say.

You can get there a bunch of ways. Often the path is divided in two: the path of discrimination (eliminating everything you aren’t, and attachment to it, till all that is left is what you are), and the path of devotion, in which you trust completely in God and Guru till you are so detached and worry free that you can also see the truth. (The last step on this path is the infamous, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him point,” but you have to be damn advanced before you need to kill your Gods. Until then, God is a great crutch.)

When you have some understanding of the enlightenment path you can re-read the great religious-mystics with a new eye, and you can actually understand much of what they were trying to do with the rules set up for religion. Many of these rules were cultivation practices meant to give ordinary worshippers a chance at some real attainment. You can understand that when a mystic with real attainment tells you to “Treat your neighbour as yourself” he or she is really thinking, “They are you, but you’ll never believe it, so just treat them that way for now.” You understand why they want you to put your faith in God. And so on.

May the world open before you.

(For the record, I am not enlightened.)

Further Reading

Some Notes on Meditation

Personality and Destiny


If you enjoyed this article, and want me to write more, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.


So You Want to Understand the World? A Reading List


Why Trump, Corbyn and Sanders Are Doing Well


  1. steeleweed

    To my skeptical mind, 99% of Spirituality reveals more about the capabilities and byways of the mind than about the nature of the world outside the mind. I have spent 60+ years investigating the ramifications of that and I’m still discovering new things. But it’s that other 1% that is really fascinating, the possibility – however slim – of Something More. out there.

    The biggest problem I have with modern philosophers is that they talk ABOUT philosophy instead of using the tools, methods and discipline of philosophy to examine life and events. Reading them one learns little about X but much about how philosophers argue about X.

    One of the few exceptions is JustinEHSmith

  2. Ian Welsh

    You can certainly argue that (and I left out most of the really wild stuff: read a good bio of Ramakrishna, say, for mind-bending fun). But actual understanding of mind is a big deal, and the reports from the field are that the higher attainment levels make life really awesome. 🙂

  3. atcooper

    This reminds me I need to procure a copy of Jung’s Red Book.

  4. Duncan Kinder

    For starters, the Delphic Oracle did not say Socrates was the wisest man. He said no man is wiser than Socrates. That, among other things, could mean all men were dumb clucks, just like Socrates.

  5. butterfly dreamer

    Trying to understand the “mystic experience,” I’ve often thought it could be a state in which no sensation exists except the electrical currents of the brain, aware only of themselves: one aspect of the experience is the perception that time and space are one.

    And, of course, before all perception is lost, there is a sense of unity and oneness, which can be perceived as either wholeness or nothingness, or both.

    It is somewhat analogous to the relationship between waking reality and dream reality: when you are in waking consciousness, you are convinced it is more “real” than the dream consciousness. However, a difference is that in a dream, the waking world, even when “remembered,” is usually irrelevant; whereas to a person in the waking world, the “mystic” world may be very relevant (or not, depending upon the personality of the “mystic”).

    The experience is, as often noted, ineffable, rather like trying to describe color to a blind man.

  6. Spinoza

    I was raised a Catholic and was pretty hardcore about it from a young age until my early teens. Always drawn to the religious orders and had I remained would have most likely entered one, most likely the Jesuits or the Dominicans.

    Ian, have you ever looked into St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises? A lot of it is a form of visualization techniques. You imagine yourself at the birth of Christ, feel the night wind, smell the beasts, gaze upon the newborn etc. He also deals with something called the Discernment of Spirits which seems like a sort of Christian form of “not this, not that”.

    Also, as my handle would attest, I’m particularly devoted to Spinoza and his writings. He was somewhere between Stoicism and Buddhism as far as I can tell.

  7. erasmus

    well, you know, I’ve read a lot of this kind of thing. always by men. and always the same – trying to ‘transcend’ human existence by ritual/mantras/abstraction/denial/psychic tricks.. (or string theory or alternate worlds as an emergency exit). And most of the (abrahamic) religions focus a lot on NOT thinking about things (and esp not thinking about sex. hmm. evidently men DO think about sex all the time, so to speak? who knew? tho if you’ve raised little boys, you do know…). and most religions (and Donald trump) are about how women are distracting. always distracting. in literature, in life, in religion – so life is ‘coitus interruptus to get the work done’, and fitna is disturbing the focus on allah or jahweh, etc. and women are supposed to stay away from the bima, from the mosque, because they distract men from focusing on solipsistic abstraction, Instead of focusing on social justice and simple helpful living. But Kali/Hecate/erishkegal/ and all those goddesses are simply the dark of the moon, the ending of things, the door we all pass, the return to the earth. Shiva’s a newcomer, of course. He’s Mr. Linear. Kali and Hecate are much much older.

    Why are men so afraid of women, i wonder? Why do they hate and fear them so much? whether in Reddit or in rural india – or pakistan or texas, the absolute loathing and fear and hate is unrelenting. Why are women so FRIGHTENING? I love Michelle Landsberg’s scene in This is New York Honey, when she has had enough and she wades into the mewling crowd of anemic white faced hasidim at a demonstration, she says like a big Jewish mama splitting the red sea, yelling STOP IT! and they open up in awe – until somebody shakes off the spell and they start opening their little mouths in indignation. But. It’s just the Gilgamesh problem. Men don’t understand death and birth as cycles. They know, somehow, that women DO understand this.And I think that’s why they hate and fear women. For women know we are all interchangeable (especially men). If you’ve ever farmed, you know this well. You need ‘A’ stud, not THE stud. And you just kill and eat all the excess males. because they are, indeed, excess. But keep your seed potatoes and your breeding ewes.

    Yes, we’re all the SAME. we’re born, (by an accident of encounter), we have a brief span, we die, and someone else comes along. Like grain. Like Demeter. Like the birth of stars. Reincarnation is just your dna turning up again (the pirate, the piano player, the red hair, the pout, the laugh), but people throw in reincarnation to make the cycle LINEAR. Jeesh. Society is just people living together, and whether it’s the prairies or Manhattan or a sami tribe, you live together better when you follow certain social sharing rules, and have forms of communal behaviour and privacy. Learn how to walk and look in Manhattan, wave your finger from the steering wheel on the prairies. Learn how to raise your umbrella in Venice. Don’t kill, don’t steal, remember names and kin relationships. Protect the young, and try to share the food and the hunting tips. Laughter should be shared and not be mean. It’s really the kindergarten rules, and we all KNOW THOSE and their regional variations – and their historical memes. Turn around quickly and 200 generations of your family will be behind you with the same warts, smile, and political orientation, usually – the one who married the pirate, the brave one, the idealist, the farmer, the baker, the speculator, the artist (actually, Grant Wood painted these types very well – and so did Giotto and esp Holbein) YOU WILL RECOGNISE YOUR ANCESTORS immediately. and they each had a brief candle flame and had adventures, whether in real life or in their minds. And then they died, and someone else came along. It’s very very simple. And you don’t need to let it GO, you need to simply LIVE in the short breath you have. Or as Neil Tyson says “I am driven by two main philosophies: Know more today about the world than I knew yesterday, and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” And this is HARDEST in wartime, in corporate oligarchic matrixes, in resource wars and climate change induced massive migrations where simple kindness, of the quaker/ghandian/jain type is drowned by waves of mass death and exploitation.

    So I find this meditation kick extremely selfish, the same way the monastic movement is always selfish. we know that every time women set up a monastic house, the men take it over, and get the warm rooms near the kitchen. So says archaeology. Nuns on the bus. now THAT’s a spiritual tradition with some balls. precious little of that amongst the men.

    So back to your solipsistic keyboards, everyone – or go look at the stars and feel a little bit less important.

  8. Ian Welsh

    I had a long comment responding, but deleted it. This isn’t an article about gender, cultivation results are the same for both genders, and I’m not interested in helping someone grind their axe over the fact post-agricultural societies (with very few exceptions) were patriarchal.

    Spinoza: Saint Theresa’s stages line up essentially exactly with the general Eastern models. Haven’t looked into Ignatius.

  9. Ian Welsh

    The point of the article was how cultivation creates specific experiences and how those experiences get embedded into religion and, on occasion, into philosophy.

    Most religious people make NO appreciable progress along the cultivation path in the West. None. There are exceptions, they are exceptions. Even Eastern monastics are mostly not enlightened. The highest percentages you’ll probably find are among Indian Sanyasan, who are formally dead, mendicants, though even with them the vast majority won’t be enlightened.

    Religions, however, tend to be created by high level mystics, so if you want to understand the original impulse, you need to understand their mind-set. Then understand that as each generation past the founder occurs, fewer and fewer people in charge of the religion have any real attainment. How many Popes do you think had even the lowest levels of attainment?

  10. Norcal_Steve

    Excellent article, I think this is quite profound. I’ve done many silent 10 day Vipassana retreats (Theravada Buddhist insight meditation). Even most first timers get quite a jolt out of this because the silence and the meditation technique takes them a lot deeper inside themselves than they have ever been before. It’s not easy but it’s well worth the effort. It gets better as you develop more experience with the practice.

    I have one comment relative to your other topics especially on social justice and activism. I am only an occasional reader though your writing is very worthwhile. I was raised in a liberal Catholic culture and I picked up some of the ethic of working for social justice. Buddhism wreaks havoc with that. My social contribution to the world has been to work to let more people meditate. I have strong political views, but Buddhism has taught me that the world is full of suffering and in a state of constant decay. While suffering is very real and social injustice is deplorable, the real meaning of life is that everyone has to work out their own salvation through developing higher insight and higher morality. And that is not something I can really help anybody achieve: they need to find it for themselves if they can.

    I don’t know if that sounds lame, but it shouldn’t if you understand what is at stake in cultivating insight. I have some doubts whether one can be deeply involved in cultivating insight and also deeply committed to social action. They seem to be fairly incompatible because insight teaches you not to worry about the material world, that it doesn’t ultimately matter all that much.

  11. Ian Welsh

    Buddhism is a specific tradition. It is hard to both enlighten and be very socially active, but it’s not impossible. One of my friends is (as best I can tell) fully enlightened and very involved (Hindu Nath). One of my old regular commenters, while she’s has never claimed enlightenment, probably is, and is also involved.

    However, yes, it becomes difficult. You don’t have to view life as suffering, you know: that’s Buddhist canon but not how many other cultivation disciplines view the situation. But you do wind up recognizing that everything passes and as such, yeah, it can be difficult to really engage.

    However my experience is that if you have the necessary Skandas (I do) that you can act disinterestedly, and with love, fairly easily, because even as your interest wanes, so does your resistance to action. And because you become more and more detached, in certain ways you become better at intervening. You also gain more and more latitude of action, if you can be bothered to get off your butt.

    Mahayana Buddhism does believe there’s a lot you can do to help other people find their own “salvation”, though salvation in cultivation terms is really no such thing, it’s just realizing what you always were.

    Finally, cultivation and even enlightenment doesn’t get rid of someone’s prejudices. It just makes them aware of original nature. You can still be an asshole. As a commenter put it here “just because your Master is free from his personality, doesn’t mean you are.” Supposedly once enlightened you don’t accumulate any further conditioning (Skandas), but the ones you’ve got, you’ve got and still have to get rid of. But many people don’t, they can’t be bothered.

  12. Socialist

    I’m Russian and have always wondered why the hell this whole spirituality/Buddhism/Easternism thing has really found new roots in the Western world, ESPECIALLY among the youth. To me the answer has been obvious – the death of Christianity as it has been practiced by centuries. Now it is being substituted by another religion. Less controversial, a religion that has no boundaries, clear rules, is easy to manipulate, easy to take advantage of (not that different from Christianity in many regards but far more deceiving), the religion of “everything is nonsensical, there is really nothing to fight for, nothing matters etc. Here one must quote Karl Marx – “religion is the opium of the people”. The new religion as accepted en masse by the new Western generation suits into the capitalist world beautifully and snugly. Even more so than Christianity.

    Steelewood, many philosophers do talk about influencing the material conditions of this world and thus affecting our perception an understanding of it.

  13. I thought that erasmus’ point wasn’t that women couldn’t follow this sort of programme, but that they don’t to the extent that men do, even when women are given the opportunity, ie, that this is a path preferred by men to an extent that it is not by women, and that there are traditional paths to…awareness, for my lack of the appropriate vocabulary…that are part of women’s traditions that don’t have a strong conceptual overlap with the sort of cultivation preferred by male practitioners. Obviously there are exceptions in both directions.

    For my part, I don’t get the fuss. I don’t yearn for some kind of detachment or psychological elevation, so to speak. There are practices that I have been raised in that I intermittently follow but not with immediate or explicit mental goals.

  14. Brian

    This is a fine article, informative. Thank you. This kind of article are one of the reasons why I subscribe to this feed – That and the historical nuances of modern culture are informative. Thank you.

  15. Joe

    Hey Ian,

    Check out Jed McKenna. Very interesting guy and cuts straight through the crap and mysticism.

    Great article, by the way.

  16. Inverness

    I remain forever changed by my experience teaching in a Catholic school several years ago. While not practicing, myself, I witnessed a Jesuit priest who tirelessly worked with young teenage boys from Harlem. He played basketball with them, tutored them, and reminded them they were worth all the effort in the world. You could feel his love for them, even when the kids pushed him (as teenagers can do). I guess that’s non-attachment! All this from somebody who took a vow of poverty and chastity, and devoted his life to serving the poor.

    If Catholicism is what inspires that priest, and those nuns of the bus, apparently it can be a force for tremendous good. I’m bored with the empty denigration of religion I see from new atheists like Bill Maher, who only seem to pay attention to extremists.

  17. ekstase

    I really appreciate that you wrote about this. I think many people feel a great loss as the interpretations of the old religions that have been given to them fail to console or guide them in the world we now inhabit. I also think that meditation, yoga and yes, Buddhism, can provide a way to access the meaning of why you are here, without the intervention of anyone else. We have an inner teacher, and a path. It doesn’t “make you” anything; it lets you be/evolve into who you really are. As Joseph Campbell said, near the end of a long lifetime of studying the world’s religions, the original, un-attenuated versions of all spiritual beliefs tell us the same things. It’s about being a good person; that is the whole point.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén