Wednesday 4 January 2023

The almost-opposite effects of 'oneness' 'negative' meditation, past versus present - implications for a truly valuable and transformative modern meditation

In the pre-modern past, meditation was a matter of getting past the surface illusions of the mundane world; and re-connecting with the reality beneath. In other words, ancient meditation enabled Man to pierce illusion and discover The World, as it truly was.

Past meditation was therefore a negative method - a matter of removing, of discarding; yet it had positive results, because reality was already there, behind the illusions, 'waiting' to be discovered.  

This was possible, because pre-modern Man retained a connection with spiritual reality; and it was this underlying spiritual reality that provide the consensus view of Mankind. It was indeed a 'common sense' because it was common to all Men - and meditation was able to discover this unifying commonality below the variable surface of personality and custom.

Remove the illusions of the merely personal and local; and the eternal verities remained. 

But modern Man is cut-off-from the spiritual, is alienated from the common world. Having become a detached individual; modern Man has lost the spontaneous and unconscious group cohesion; a product of immersion in the spiritual and divine - which remained, until recent generations, as a dwindling residue of Man's earliest consciousness.  

Nowadays, when meditation strips-away or dissolves the surface illusions of the world - nothing remains

When illusions are cast aside - there is nothing left! When a negative method of meditation is deployed the outcome is itself negative; because there is no 'consensus reality' waiting to be discovered - but instead a void. 

By meditation, modern Man does not gain the world, but loses it

While pre-modern meditation (in the right context) led to a strength and encouragement rooted in solid reality; modern meditation leads to nihilism and despair... If, that is, modern meditation is pursued rigorously and honestly. 

But it is not! Since modern meditation leads to no values, not motivations, and loss of the world; then, meditation is almost never pursued to its logical conclusion. 

Instead, modern meditators use meditation as (merely) a therapy - directed at making the meditator feel better. And as such, modern meditation is embedded in the standard, mainstream, totalitarian-leftist assumptions of the modern world - hence, modern meditators attitudes are worldly, contemporary - and labile in accordance with tracking the changing and rootless dictates of the global Establishment. 

Consider: If modern meditators were genuinely committed to the idea that everything was one, the world was illusion and the self/ ego and thinking were the cause of illusion - they would realize that this illusory nature extended to all of morality. 

They would reject all notions of human rights and equality, because these are part of this world's illusion; they would realize that kindness was as illusory as aggression; that suffering was as illusory as the political views of their enemies. 

But this does not happen. Meditators claim that oneness meditation has all sorts of this-worldly benefits. Some claim that an increase in meditation, or many meditators working together, will improve our lives in this world. Or that meditating makes for better people - kinder, more appreciative, more altruistic people!

Because this is incoherent nonsense; in practice modern meditation that aims at seeing through the illusion of this-world is itself worldly - hence just-a-therapy, at best. It does not have the potential for transformative religious or spiritual power.

I agree with the view that some kind of 'meditation' is valuable, and for some people necessary, in this modern world; but its aims need to be quite different from the merely negative goals of seeing-through illusion - almost the opposite.

Modern meditation needs to be - not about 'discovering' a reality already there - but instead about co-creating a reality that we choose and is in harmony with divine creation. 

We, as selves, need to start working with God in choosing to make the reality - which will not happen unless we take an active and conscious role. 

And that should be the nature, method, goal of meditation in 2023. 

Note: These ideas were stimulated by passages from an audio lecture by Stanley Messenger on the Wessex Research Group web pages. His ideas were mostly drawn from Rudolf Steiner.  


William Wildblood said...

I meditated for 20 years but was it was always impressed on me that meditation without prayer (prayer to God, that is) could actually be spiritually harmful because it could entrench one in the void and actually enhance the ego. Your piece here seems to be saying the same thing in a slightly different way.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Interesting. I don't think that the void was a problem for the ancients in the way it is for us nowadays. In the past the successful meditator reached reality - whereas now the meditator reaches (or more usually) just approaches the void - and then (understandably!) veers-off back to "the world".

What the modern meditator seems to be doing by removing "the self", is actually to submit more completely to the top-down, imposed, virtual world - which is actually demonic in origin and purpose.

In other words, the oneness/ anti-ego/ anti-thinking modern meditator loses the possibility of taking personal spiritual responsibility, and thereby opens himself wide to the influence of evil, because The System becomes the only source of meaning.

ted said...

Good points here. I think what you're pointing at is mysticism (as an aspect of meditation) and metaphysics (first principles) need to go hand in hand. The reason meditation is so therapeutic these days, is because secular "metaphysics" or worldview is primarily therapeutic. There is no God, so the point to life is for the self to find happiness only (and that will be defined not in God's terms but the worldview the meditator is indoctrinated into).

Bruce Charlton said...

@ted - That's a good point.

Dan Shell said...

This seems to exclude a more traditional Western/Catholic concept of meditating on Scripture or similar things like the Mystery of the Rosary. This would be positive meditation on the highest things, which in some sense is meant to get beyond or maybe above the purely material.

Someone said...

The purpose of meditation is to disidentify yourself from the body, thoughts and emotions. The meditator watches how emotions and thoughts come and go, and at some point realizes that he is not them, and experiences a pure presence

Bruce Charlton said...

@DS & S - I am suggesting that we need to look behind the traditional explanations and purported aims, to what actually happens when meditation is done seriously.

Rohan said...

I like this quote by Jung: "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.“

I think there's some value in meditation when one tries to understand the ego but I can't understand meditation that tries to lose the ego through identification with the void

Bruce Charlton said...

@Rohan - I agree with Barfield that Jung had many insights, but was only half-true; because he would back-off when his thinking was leading him to places that challenged his authority!

He was very interesting on the collective un-conscious, but somehow missed out the collective conscious - which is of primary importance. Thus, Jungians are often interesting when they discuss myth and archetype; but their conscious opinions tend to be mundane and mainstream.