Here’s an article in the mainstream media that’s wrong on all counts and all levels, worth a warning:
“Prejudiced” means “having prior judgments”, but what they really mean is “having in-group preferences that are taboo for specific groups”, versus other in-group preferences that are praised and encouraged. “In-group preferences” is what I will refer to, because I try to avoid other people’s loaded language.
Interestingly, the slug for the article is:
In other words, according to the Daily Mail, a better person is unaggressive and doesn’t have taboo in-group preferences.
If meditation did make you meek, harmless, and a sucker, I would suggest avoiding it.
Notice that the article equates meditation with “Buddhist practice”. Hindus also meditate, and some Christians perform practices like centering prayer that are effectively the same thing. Suffis meditate, and Sikhs say meditative prayers. I listened to a lecture by a psychologist who claims that meditation is probably derived from a natural biological function, like sleeping or eating, that religious sects stumble onto when performing rituals that require a lot of attention to detail. In other words, many religious sects perform rituals that are evolving towards the same effect, even if they haven’t developed meditation per-se as a practice.
Transcendental Meditation is Hindu mantra meditation commercialized by paying the guru money to choose your mantra for you. In any case, it’s not Buddhist.
So the question is why equate meditation with Buddhism, when Buddhism is not the only religious sect that does it. I suspect it has to do with the other assumption, that meditation should (but apparently doesn’t) make you unaggressive and to not have in-group preferences:
For all intents and purposes, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as a “lay Buddhist”. Some laypeople dabble in Buddhism, perhaps sending boys to a temple for short stints similar to the Christian practice of vacation bible school, but anyone serious about Buddhism is expected to become a monk or a nun; that is, to become
- childless (ie, commit genetic suicide)
- vegetarian or better yet vegan
- a beggar
In Asian cultures, Buddhists have a social contract with the rest of society:
Leave us alone to pursue enlightenment, and we’ll live as non-competitively as possible.
When communists took over various Asian lands like Mongolia, Tibet, Viet Nam, and Kampuchea, they massacred or at least persecuted the Buddhist monks and nuns. In Mongolia they wiped them out wholesale because their soviet handlers told them to. Instead of achieving peace, the monks achieved annihilation.
Someone who isn’t Buddhist also thinks the goal SHOULD be to make you less competitive and unable to defend yourself.
This reminds me of Yuri Bezmenov‘s claim that the soviet model of subversion was to undermine a national culture with leftist politics, vices (especially drugs and promiscuous sex), and hippy/New Age/”Eastern” pop culture. One of the goals was to use “peer pressure by elites upon academics and society to convince that prior values were inherently flawed, racist, prejudiced etc.”
Bezmenov was sent by the KGB to work in India, where he fell in love with the culture but realized that the soviet strategy was to either distract people with practices and vices that made them either disengage from “reality” (whatever that is), or better yet, subvert their own culture, identity-group, and nation. In other words, they want to goad, shame, or encourage you into swallowing poison-pills that they themselves won’t touch.
Mr. Brezmenov claimed that the leftist political activists would be targeted for execution once the target nation was under their control and the leftists had exhausted their usefulness. It was assumed that they’d realize they’d been duped and would cause trouble, but I honestly doubt that was really a danger to the party. My takeaway from years of close observation is that as long as they were allowed to join the communist party and reap the benefits of party membership, they’d go along with the hell-on-earth that was delivered in place of paradise-on-earth.
Since Mr. Bezmenov’s time, things have changed: the soviet union collapsed, and millions of communist party members fled Russia and were welcomed with open arms into the “western” countries, where they are now busy pursuing the same agenda from the inside.
Do you notice what I am talking about happening in contemporary American and European culture and politics?
Peace is not their objective. Their objective is for you to surrender and commit cultural and genetic suicide.
I suggest shying away from any starry-eyed sense of reality that disengages you from what author Ivan Throne would call “the dark world”.
Be an enlightened warrior, not a monk:
- Find a loving companion and keep her.
- Raise your own batch of heroes.
- Get strong and learn how to defend yourself.
- Learn how to create value and trade value for value.
- By all means, cultivate practices that raise your level of consciousness, but only to the extent they don’t degrade your physical and mental vitality.
It so happens that I do meditate. I also practice Hatha Yoga—to get and stay strong, as a matter of fact. I eat a plant-based diet and am nearly vegan (let’s see how that works out if enough men sign up for Mr. Throne’s local Feast of War to take place and I end up feasting with a wolf-pack of flesh-eaters); I also know how to do that without creating other problems. I fast twice a week and dedicate my fasting to the Divine. I have a Libertarian sense of non-aggression principle (more specifically, don’t initiate violence); I’m relatively peaceful even if also “martial”. And I practice shooting. If I had more time on my hands, I’d practice martial arts. There is no contradiction; it’s “and”, not “or”. I choose to allow my personality to expand into ordered complexity, instead of being flat and one-dimensional.
Here’s the irony of the article: its premise is dead-wrong from the get-go:
But it appears the respected monk could be wrong.
For scientists have revealed the trendy Buddhist practice does not make you more compassionate, less aggressive or prejudiced.
Um, no. The Dalai Lama’s claim is perhaps an exaggeration, but the concept is correct: meditation would reduce violence. Not by making you less aggressive or destroying your in-group preferences, but by replacing emotional triggers on violence with rational, calculating control over violence.
Meditation increases control over impulses. You feel an emotion coming on, and in a split-second you decide whether to act on it, resolve it, or channel it into something more intelligent than a “reptilian response”.
Imagine the difference between a milquetoast who is physically and psychologically incapable of harming you, and a dragon who could kill you in an instant but to the extent it can be avoided chooses not to.
You want to be peaceful like the dragon, not the milquetoast.
I had to use an imaginary creature as a metaphor, because the concept is apparently so exotic in western culture! The point is to avoid violence through discipline and intelligent choices, not to surrender as a matter of necessity and call that “peace”.
It’s also worth pointing out that from what we can tell from the article, the scientists were not testing what Buddhists actually practice.
Science is not a substitute for rational analysis. “Science” won’t stop you from confirming your biases with invalid experiments.
Mindfulness practice has nothing to do with making you more compassionate, less aggressive, or less “prejudiced”, and that’s not the point of doing it anyway. Someone set up an experiment that was fundamentally invalid. Possibly because they’re not interested in meditation unless it really did turn chumps into milquetoasts.
“Loving-kindness” is मेत्ता (Mettā) in Pali (the common speech in the time and place the Buddha lived); in Sanskrit (the high speech), which I am more familiar with, मैत्री (Maitrī). मैत्री as I understand it is love without उपादान, (upadana), a word that doesn’t exist in English but usually translated as “attachment”, that is, pre-conditions that you set for your own peaceful contentment. In other words, love that isn’t “needy”. It’s similar to the Greek-Christian concept “agape”, divine love.
Imagining cute animals is not the way that loving-kindness meditation is traditionally done. Instead, you imagine taking on the suffering of other people, and giving them back release from it. It’s sometimes called “compassionate exchange”.
It builds empathy (“I sense that you are sad”) without triggering unhelpful sympathetic responses (“That makes me sad too!”), and adds compassion (“I don’t want you to suffer”) to the mix. The part about imagining taking on other people’s suffering might even make you mentally tougher.
This is all perfectly good; the problem is adding cultural and genetic suicide to the mix, and that’s nothing you will ever learn from me.