Recent NYT article on London meditation anti-Guru moving to New York has inspired some thoughts as to why i don’t buy new age, 10 minute meditation session, end your anxiety without some sort of spirituality/faith/religion. One of the main tenets of buddhism that has made it into the mainsteam, LA fitness/YMCA yoga, pop meditation guru, “new age buddhist-influenced philosophy of life” is the need/ability to control and let go of your thoughts.
I’ve recently been thinking just how important that tenet is and whether/what is missing from this one step mantra to modern life success
1) Our thoughts give us meaning/define (obviously) the way we look at the world
1a) obviously we’ve got to be sort of attached to some thoughts to be used as building blocks in order to create meaning so that we can live and invest in our lives in consistent ways. These building blocks are necessary so that we ultimately can do things that improve our daily life – you know innovation, technology, family/friend time, humanity, and world peace.
2)our anxiety/stress/otherwise unhelpful thoughts keeping us from the wonderful improvement above might be do from lack of control in the outermost layer of building blocks (aka a bad roof) or from some deeper layer (like a bad foundation) or from multiple layers (consistently bad concrete/molding/anything else in a house that goes throughout).
2a) For the really stressed, angry, anxiety driven, cruel, fearful people out there –how many layers of building blocks do we need to let go/control/sift through?
2b) That is some hard work.
2c) Given how deep most of our problem are and that most of us are subject to the bad foundation and bad multiple layers problem, ten minutes of thinking and letting go when you’re “away from it all” will not help.
3) Given that most of our problems are relational and we’re hoping for brilliant thoughts to explain how we can better approach these relationships in practical ways; (sometimes telling someone “just love them like you love yourself” isn’t the most clear cut direction of what to say/how to act/how to think about a person that will improve the relations —being patronizing/motherly/fatherly/sisterly/disciplinarian sometimes doesn’t work); any practice of letting go of one’s thoughts would also need to cultivate practical helpful thoughts…which again requires rebuilding thought building blocks. (reorientation)
3a) list of new age spirituality needs based off this short, superficial analysis
a. practice letting bad thoughts go
b. learning to identify which thoughts are bad – especially the non-obvious ones
c. building a complementary framework to identify the bad thoughts we didn’t know were bad/interfering
d. getting the new ideas to build the complementary framework
e. practice sifting to find and cultivate innovative new ideas which are practical and specifically life applicable to build and to build from the complementary and ultimately newly adopted framework.
f. More than ten minutes of quiet time during your lunch break because reorienting the way you see the world and how you think about the world is not easy.
4) on the other hand, if mr. anti-guru is helping the most successful people, then perhaps these are people who have learned to orient their building blocks in such a way that they can get their jobs done with minimal emotional/moral/physical(Thought) interference and need the meditation merely to get to the next level of success.
5) in which case, Mr. anti- Guru, you are helping people be better at doing what people already do really really well in their current context and are unhelpful to these same people in helping them be better at things they do quite badly, sort of badly, or in a mediocre way. Changing the roof probably won’t help the foundation for long.
Despite the major weaknesses with religions in general and each religion specifically, we might agree that religions/spiritualities that make people the happiest (i know its a vague term but I’m thinking somewhere along the lines of “i have a meaningful life” ) seem to converge on the point that it is not easy to cultivate that type of happiness everyday/all the time. Of course it need not be a neverending struggle nor a wait til death struggle, but perhaps it lies in the happy medium.
Disclaimer – all i know about mr. anti-guru and his practices is from the recent NYT article so his article inspired me to think through basic meditation rather than informedly critique his practices.