A Social Approach

Expecting meditation to do all the work is isolating and incomplete. We must be able to process and integrate all of our experiential learning both on and off the cushion. As social creatures, we must be able to articulate our experiences so we can exchange wisdom and mission with others in our community to maximize our contribution. A person’s potential is limited by their ability to share their great ideas. If we limit the wisdom we gain from the cushion to the inside of our heads, we are not reaching our potential.

While I respect the intention of eliminating craving by not discussing stages beyond one’s current state and of preventing contamination of the pure practice with false teachings, I believe meditators can just as easily get off track in their own heads. Discussions with other meditators about their experiences can reinforce one’s understanding inspiring confidence to continue on the path. Meditators that have gotten stuck might find a nugget of wisdom that returns them to the path. Of course there is a concern that a person could knock someone off the path, but don’t we face a barrage of those diversional forces every day?

Believing that growth on the path can only come by practicing Vipassana on the cushion separates students in this tradition from everyone else. It implies that people outside of this tradition are stagnant and have nothing to give. Yet my life has shown me that anyone who is striving to learn and grow is building their base of experiential knowledge. Every action is an opportunity to learn, and every person is a resource to deepen my understanding. If we don’t let other people in, binding ourselves through the exchange of ideas and experiences, we are failing to dissolve our ego. Reinforcing one’s intellectual knowledge through experiential knowledge on the cushion is essential to reach the final goal, that doesn’t devalue the utility of thought. As the world faces escalating communal crises, it’s the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and hope that will ultimately lead us to a sustainable outcome. I believe meditation can be a valuable piece of that solution. Time to meditate.

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About Ryan Shelton

In March of 2010 I discovered a path to peace and happiness through a 10-day Vipassana meditation course in the tradition of S.N. Goenka. After establishing my personal practice, and witnessing how it changed my way of life, I'm now curious to explore how the growing community of meditators can help to support each other and make the world a better place.
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One Response to A Social Approach

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have been struggling with this myself…Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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