photo by balint foldesi (creative commons)
Here’s an extended excerpt from a Vancouver Sun article, Meditation: The darker side of a good thing. It answers the question, “Isn’t meditation narcissistic?” It also addresses a common misconception about “detachment”.
“Even though Wilber meditates himself, he laments how meditation in the U.S. and Canada is often accompanied by an attitude he calls “Boomeritis Buddhism.”
That is, Wilber believes many middle-aged baby-boomers who meditate bring to it an over-simplified commitment to pluralism and relativism and the notion that, “You do your thing and I’ll do mine.”
Meditation, Wilber said, does not necessarily help such individualistic people face their inner “Shadows,” the destructive aspects of their personalities.
Instead, Wilber says, when Eastern meditation teachers tell people to “kill their egos,” it runs the danger the students might “dis-identify” with their more unpleasant personality traits.
Meditation for many “becomes a process of transcend and deny … rather than transcend and include,” Wilber writes…
The Eastern teaching that people should have “no ego,” an idea espoused by Vancouver-based spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle and many others, encourages meditators to try to be “empty,” to have no viewpoint, says Wilber.
The trouble is many meditators believe that means having no viewpoints at all, even on important issues. As Wilber says, many meditators don’t believe in anything.
Although Wilber thinks people can through meditation reach elevated states of consciousness that can help them become more mature, he says there is no guarantee meditation will free men or women from their own narcissism.
I appreciate the way both Eigen and Wilber conclude that meditation can be beneficial, but that it’s only part of what’s necessary to reach maturity.
The true goal of meditation, and any spiritual discipline, is not only to “empty” oneself of negative feelings and thoughts, but to face one’s own inner demons. That leads, in a sense, to feeling “full” — in connection with yourself, others and transcendent values.
Meditation should lead to the development of wise beliefs, which Wilber says require a commitment to “compassion for all sentient things.” In turn, that requires developing a self (or ego) that is skilful enough to put compassion into practical action.”