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Intention doesn't matter when meditating

With mindfulness now mainstream, many people have begun a practice to help them become more productive, creative, free-thinking, stress-free in the workplace, with - I presume - the intention of having more financial and world success.

This is not ideal from a Buddhist perspective, of course. However, my sense is that it doesn't matter what your motivation is when you begin meditating. So long as you are meditating then, at some point, you will experience something - peace, bliss, oneness etc. - that will supersede your previous motivations and shift your pursuit towards the original purpose of meditation.

This is because, even if you believe and are dedicated to worldly pursuits, and even if you believe you have no interest in peaceful states of mind, the moment you experience it you will understand that, above all things in life, this is what you want most of all.

Of course, that process will take time to unfold. Some people might have dramatic awakenings and shifts - some people have. And, of course, some might end up pursuing both... although I'd hope and expect that what is gained in the mind influences in a positive manner how worldly pursuits are actioned. But what I fully expect to happen over the coming years and decades is more and more mindfulness practitioners coming to their own spiritual awakenings, with more people experiencing drastic shifts in attitude, and more of the effects of meditation (peace, compassion, empathy etc.) influencing how worldly things are conducted, especially in more traditionally ruthless and profit driven ventures like corporations.

The fact is that mindfulness meditation is now mainstream, and in coming times it will be more unusual to not meditate than to meditate. There is no use in clinging on to 'how it should be', rather, our concern should be to expand what is now accepted to help more people benefit more. It is natural for the curious human mind to - upon experiencing the benefits of something - to explore further related information. As such, I expect Buddha's ethical teachings to become more prominent, as well as practices like loving-kindness, all of which are likely to chart similar paths to mindfulness, including scientific and cultural validation.

In conclusion, this is a time of great hope and potential. To pour cold water on the untraditional methods of practice is to ignore the fact that...

MEDITATION IS NOW MAINSTREAM!

This is a truly incredible and unprecedented occurrence, said by someone who remembers clearly the ridicule surrounding meditation only 15 years ago when I started my practice. This is a time for smiles and inclusivity and GIVING! Embrace these times. We are on the cusp of something potentially incredible, and, I for one, wish to be contribute not detract. :chuffed:

Shoshinlobsterpersonseeker242

Comments

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    On the path intension is everything. Lord Buddha revealed to us the path of liberation. In the age of decline many counterfeit teachings will be proclaimed as truth. That such spurious feel good teachings will be seen as equal to wisdom is without precedent.

    lobsterperson
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I think there are a lot of people who are offered it at work, for example, but they try it because they know the benefits and want those benefits. I don't think most of them do so for more success and productivity. I think their work places offer meditation and mindfulness trainings for those reasons. But I think most people who at least give it a shot are looking for something beyond that.

    I think there are 2 parts to it, to me. One being that of course, we know mindfulness has a base in a wisdom foundation that the Buddha offered. The other being that simply exposing oneself to such activities, no matter the initial motivation or the motivation of those offering it, is beneficial. I think of it like yoga, which is another thing people accuse Americans or Westerners of stealing and ruining. There are a lot of people who try it without knowing what its basis is, or that it's not just a good workout Most of them don't continue with that perception. Most of them find that regular practice touches something else in them, and they want to continue and know more. So they start to learn. Mindfulness and meditation, I think, is the same.

    The most important thing is to touch those places in yourself and start to look farther to understand them. How that happens, to me, doesn't matter. One of my close friends is married to our local sangha leader. She is a devout Christian and teaches meditation at her church. The benefits have been amazing, and she has new people in the community arriving all the time. They don't talk about Buddha, but they learn the same foundation as it fits into their beliefs. It has benefits for them, for their families and for our community. The Dalai Lama, of course, has specifically said to be a better "whatever you are" rather than thinking that you have to become a Buddhist to do so.So i don't think it's fair to say there is less or not value to these practices unless you have a Buddhist foundation. I don't think that is true at all.

    lobsterperson
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    I have seen soldiers develop a high degree of mindfulness while in combat. They come back intact. But as young soldiers they are far from a spiritual path. They remain the same profane creatures as they were before going to war.

    lobster
  • mindatriskmindatrisk Veteran
    edited August 15

    @grackle said:
    On the path intension is everything. Lord Buddha revealed to us the path of liberation. In the age of decline many counterfeit teachings will be proclaimed as truth. That such spurious feel good teachings will be seen as equal to wisdom is without precedent.

    I feel like it is better that people begin meditating with the wrong intention than not meditate at all. Just as I'd rather people exercise and eat healthy to look good for a girl not for the sake of their health if it gets them healthy and fit. At least in practicing the activity you give yourself a chance to realise the true purpose and benefit. It is going to be a slow and hard slog for our species if people are required to have perfect intent before beginning any form of beneficial practice. As far as I'm concerned, so long as people are performing beneficial practices then I don't much mind the 'why'... that can be corrected later. There is too much suffering in this world to make it worthwhile holding people to that standard. I think Karasti articulated this perspective very well.

    karastiShoshinperson
  • @grackle said:
    I have seen soldiers develop a high degree of mindfulness while in combat. They come back intact. But as young soldiers they are far from a spiritual path. They remain the same profane creatures as they were before going to war.

    But maybe closer.

    I'll accept closer every day of the week! This path is too hard to be fussy!

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    You sound exactly like a friend of mine who is deeply into New Age teachings.

    Kerome
  • @grackle said:
    You sound exactly like a friend of mine who is deeply into New Age teachings.

    Maybe I am your friend! Imagine that!

    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    If we try to tell someone "You can't meditate or practice mindfulness unless you understand Buddhism" you are going to lose a whole lot of people for no good reason. Any time people start slowing down, calming themselves, and looking inward, it benefits them and everyone around them. We need much more of this. It is so very helpful, even if Buddha is never mentioned. Look at all the studies about how meditation and mindfulness programs have helped children and even prisoners. This is a good thing for our world and I refuse to split hairs over its origins and the "right" way to do it. Every time a single person learns how to change their actions and reactions in the world, humanity benefits. It's so important.

    mindatriskVastmindperson
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Mindfulness on its own is useful, but I think insight meditation might be even more so. Let's hope some people graduate to the more advanced techniques.

    person
  • @Kerome said:
    Mindfulness on its own is useful, but I think insight meditation might be even more so. Let's hope some people graduate to the more advanced techniques.

    They will, of course! It would be against human nature not to desire greater peace, joy, happiness etc. if it is available to us. This is just the beginning. The repercussions of this time will resound throughout humanity for all time... which might not be long (Hello Donald Trump!).

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Gee I thought I was at NB not new mindfulness. It takes a lifetime to understand Buddhism imo.

    Kerome
  • @grackle said:
    Gee I thought I was at NB not new mindfulness. It takes a lifetime to understand Buddhism imo.

    All the better that we all begin our journey asap then! Imagine how many people will begin their journey into understanding Buddhism through attending a mindfulness course at work? Imagine how much better their lives will be (and those around them) for having the practice of mindfulness in their lives? Imagine all the doors it will open to them to have the realisation that meditation isn't bullshit? I see no downside here. Tbh, the advent of mindfulness in mainstream thought is about as close to a miracle as has been on planet earth in a long, long time. It could literally save our species and the planet. Remember, there are some Buddhists who just practice mindfulness... that is how powerful a tool it is.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I wonder how long it will take for people to start seeing the effects of where they've lost the path, for example people who do not follow right speech might find they become mindful of the damage they do with cursing or abusive speech. I suspect people will stay deluded for quite a long time on some of these things.

    But I can see @grackle's point, the Noble Eightfold Path is supposed to reinforce itself through right operation of each factor, and right mindfulness is only one of those. The intention to do good and follow the spiritual life is an important part.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I think it takes more than a lifetime to explore everything Buddhism has to offer. I don't like when Christians (or anyone else ) tell me I'm doing my life wrong and have to do it their way to get the full benefit out of it. So I try to avoid doing the same to them.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Who has told you that you are doing your life wrong?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    @grackle said:
    Who has told you that you are doing your life wrong?

    I've been told that by a few R.Catholic friends. That I'm steering in the wrong direction. One even told me that even though I professed to not believe in God, and said I was Buddhist, God saw my goodness and Kind intentions, and that they were manifest of His goodness and Compassion. In other words, I only THOUGHT I was Buddhist. In fact, I am Christian because God loves me, and he directs my actions.

    I felt like decking her with a right uppercut then asking her how God's punch felt.

    But I didn't.
    I guess that was God, too. :angry:

    lobsterVastmindvinlyn
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited August 15

    Plenty of people, mostly of the Christian persuasion, once a Muslim friend suggested it as well. Often they are complete strangers but it comes from family and friends sometimes. They always finish the conversation with "I'm so sorry you don't see the light of letting Jesus in your heart. I'll pray for you so that you will see things in His truth." I'm just saying, I'm not going to tell people who meditate and practice mindfulness without a clue what Buddha taught, that they shouldn't be doing it without a foundation, aren't getting the full experience, aren't doing it quite right, etc. It's none of my business and it's patronizing for no good reason. The most I do is mention that I practice those things too. I might mention I'm a Buddhist, depending on context and so on. If they have questions, they'll ask.

    I'm also pretty sure that Buddha didn't have the patent as the only person in all of humanity to realize that sitting quietly with oneself leads to a lot of good things. Native Americans had similar practices without ever knowing who Buddha was. The Eightfold path isn't mindblowing. It's pretty common sense. Someone can realize they need to live such a good life without needing Buddhism, or the Bible, or whatever, to point it out to them.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    @federica. I once was told I was going through a stage. Back in the day the elders would say that if they didn't approve of what we were thinking.

  • @karasti said:
    Plenty of people, mostly of the Christian persuasion, once a Muslim friend suggested it as well. Often they are complete strangers but it comes from family and friends sometimes. They always finish the conversation with "I'm so sorry you don't see the light of letting Jesus in your heart. I'll pray for you so that you will see things in His truth." I'm just saying, I'm not going to tell people who meditate and practice mindfulness without a clue what Buddha taught, that they shouldn't be doing it without a foundation, aren't getting the full experience, aren't doing it quite right, etc. It's none of my business and it's patronizing for no good reason. The most I do is mention that I practice those things too. I might mention I'm a Buddhist, depending on context and so on. If they have questions, they'll ask.

    I'm also pretty sure that Buddha didn't have the patent as the only person in all of humanity to realize that sitting quietly with oneself leads to a lot of good things. Native Americans had similar practices without ever knowing who Buddha was. The Eightfold path isn't mindblowing. It's pretty common sense. Someone can realize they need to live such a good life without needing Buddhism, or the Bible, or whatever, to point it out to them.

    I like your style. You seem to have a good grasp about the way... skilful means et al.

  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    @karasti said:
    I think it takes more than a lifetime to explore everything Buddhism has to offer. I don't like when Christians (or anyone else ) tell me I'm doing my life wrong and have to do it their way to get the full benefit out of it. So I try to avoid doing the same to them.

    The only time I ever tell anyone that they're doing their lives wrong is when they tell someone else they're doing their lives wrong. Then logic dictates I must tell myself I'm doing my life wrong, and so I say nothing. Human beings are deeply uncomfortable with uncertainty. Consciousness is, at its heart, a terrifying and bewildering experience, and every spiritual path ever conceived is a response to a vast chasm of existential dread pushed beneath the top layers of consciousness. The more uncomfortable we are with the uncertainties of existence, the more liable we are to prescribe our "truths" to others. If only we can "correct" others, then maybe we'll feel more confident in our own beliefs.

    karastilobster
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    I am entirely grateful for the correction I have received from teachers over the years. Sometimes gentle other times harsh. But always needed. To realize how unimportant we are is the greatest of blessings. Even though one day we may step upon the stage of a greater dharmic destiny and duty.

    lobster
  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    There is a crucial difference, and you miss the point. You sought out and were open to these "corrections" even if you were initially resistant to them; you identified these practitioners as teachers. To try to "correct" others who do not seek your "guidance," which is what is under discussion here, is doubt disguising itself as faith.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    I have not missed the point. I have not sought to correct anyone. Nor have I offered anyone guidance. What I have done is offer my opinion as others have offered theirs.

  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    If in the post immediately subsequent to mine you were responding primarily to me and not to the thread as a whole, then you have indeed missed the point I was making. If so, then this is most likely because I failed to articulate it properly and not due to an underlying disagreement or lack of understanding on your part. If, on the other hand, you were not replying to my post directly, then I have misinterpreted the context of your response. Either way, I apologize for the lack of clarity.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @federica said:

    @grackle said:
    Who has told you that you are doing your life wrong?

    I've been told that by a few R.Catholic friends. That I'm steering in the wrong direction. One even told me that even though I professed to not believe in God, and said I was Buddhist, God saw my goodness and Kind intentions, and that they were manifest of His goodness and Compassion. In other words, I only THOUGHT I was Buddhist. In fact, I am Christian because God loves me, and he directs my actions.

    I felt like decking her with a right uppercut then asking her how God's punch felt.

    But I didn't.
    I guess that was God, too. :angry:

    That's not half as bad as the Mormons who now baptize AFTER death and without consent. Would you believe the Mormons baptized the long dead Dean Martin?

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @grackle said:
    I have seen soldiers develop a high degree of mindfulness while in combat. They come back intact. But as young soldiers they are far from a spiritual path. They remain the same profane creatures as they were before going to war.

    Indeed. A mindful grunt.

    The use of the profound by the profane or the sublime by the slime is always a possibility. In essence we are, oh OK maybe just me, always profane slime. We are always beggar/beginner mind. By following the maha-magi and other sat-gurus and sitting madly, deeply and mindfully we learn to be right back to born-again ...

    Iz plan.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited August 16

    I think we as Buddhists need to let go of thinking of mindfulness as ours or Buddhism. Yoga divorced itself from Hinduism and many people benefit from it in far different ways than Hindu yogis intended. But some who get into yoga for whatever mundane reason connect with something and look deeper. IMO it should be that way for the modern mindfulness movement, we can still be sitting here practicing Buddhism quietly ready for those who want more and seek it out.

    @karasti said:
    If we try to tell someone "You can't meditate or practice mindfulness unless you understand Buddhism" you are going to lose a whole lot of people for no good reason.

    As a Buddhist I've run into this attitude towards myself, that I don't have the correct understanding so what good would a meditation practice do? It would only lead you in the wrong direction.

    I've always been a hands on kind of person, I'd rather get started and figure it out as I go rather than plan it all out first.

    @grackle said:
    I have seen soldiers develop a high degree of mindfulness while in combat. They come back intact. But as young soldiers they are far from a spiritual path. They remain the same profane creatures as they were before going to war.

    Does a mindful soldier make a better baby killer or a soldier who is less likely to kill babies? I don't think it's so clear cut.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Perhaps you were in uniform and witnessed soldiers kill babies. I did not when I was in uniform. There is no place quite so confusing as the crucible of armed combat. The mindful soldier because of his ability to notice has a better chance of survival. There is no spillover to the other parts of his life.

    person
  • @grackle said:
    Perhaps you were in uniform and witnessed soldiers kill babies. I did not when I was in uniform. There is no place quite so confusing as the crucible of armed combat. The mindful soldier because of his ability to notice has a better chance of survival. There is no spillover to the other parts of his life.

    Why not? It doesn't require too much intelligence to make the leap from understanding how mindfulness benefits your soldiering to the possibility that mindfulness might help regular life, especially in a culture where mindfulness is becoming omnipresent, and especially when you are likely to be suffering (PTSD etc.) from your soldiering and hear that mindfulness can also help with that. It would seem to me that there is more chance of spill over than not spill over.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    Mindfulness becomes truly useful imho when it is turned within, and becomes a habit.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    I'm very active with veterans organizations and have yet to see the spillover.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Is mindfulness in a combat/survival situation really the same as the practice of mindfulness though? It seems like the former is more a necessity that applies only in those moments. The awareness that comes from being in those situations comes from a place of our sympathetic nervous system, which is where our fight or flight response comes from. While the type of mindfulness we generally talk about it the opposite-from, in part, accessing the parasympathetic nervous system. I'm not sure they can be exactly considered the same thing. Especially when the type we are discussing is meant to pervade your entire life and not just the very most stressful moments.

    personVastmind
  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    Right on the money. Specific situational mindfulness has a limited focus. Nonetheless many veterans learn how to function very well under the most stressful of conditions. This carries over in a beneficial way when for example ex military nurses enter civilian nursing. Their compassion and competence is outstanding though their personal life may be in the toilet.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I'm not sure where you are going with this in regards to the discussion-at-large @grackle? Are you saying that some of the situations in which mindfulness is offered (say, at a workplace) are situational and therefore not the same? It's possible, of course. It all depends how the person receiving instruction views it and how it's taught. If they are taught to be mindful with an eye only on being more productive at work, then yes, I definitely can see how that would then mean they drop it as soon as they leave work, just like we leave our work at work in other ways. But it also could be taught in a different manner that carries with them. We don't know how it's taught though.

    My son is going into 3rd grade, and mindfulness and meditation are things they learn in school. It definitely carries over, because they are not taught it with regards to doing well on tests, focusing on homework etc, but rather dealing with their emotions, resolving conflict with friends and so on. Stuff that is easy to carry over versus only a focus on the task at hand.

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    I think my post clearly had to do military situational mindfulness. Simply because mindfulness is au courrant fails to persuade me of its usefulness. Probably many con men and women now have a new way to fleece the public.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    @grackle said:
    ... Simply because mindfulness is au courrant fails to persuade me of its usefulness. ...

    At its most basic, mindfulness is totally focusing on the present and what one is doing. How can that not make people more successful in what they are doing?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Moderator

    It's what some sportspeople call "Being in the Zone".... totally singularly focused and extant in The Moment. I'd say it's extremely useful. Particularly for those 1st past the post....

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Kerome said:> Mindfulness on its own is useful, but I think insight meditation might be even more so. Let's hope some people graduate to the more advanced techniques.

    I think it would be difficult to practice mindfulness consistently and not develop some insight.

    lobsterKerome
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