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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anderson Cooper, mindfulness, Buddhism... and kerfuffles.

I'm sure you've heard by now that Anderson Cooper, on 60 Minutes, had a publicly filmed experience of a mindfulness meditation retreat.  if you haven't seen it yet, here's the video from CBS...

and despite the beauty, peace and dignity of his experience, there was some fallout about it amongst the mindfulness set... (come again?)... like this article from Professor Jeff Wilson, criticizing Cooper's presentation for not being, uh, traditionally Buddhist enough.  (come again?) 

normally, I wouldn't jump into a fray like this or care too much about kerfuffles over religion, faith, practice, spirituality or this and that -- but a good friend tagged me on the Wilson article on Facebook, obviously with the intention to get a discussion started between his thoughtful, spiritual friends. 

and, so, here's my response to Professor Wilson's article:

oh, ha, seems like Wilson is another classical Buddhist with an ax to grind about purity, presentation, preservation of 'the tradition,' etc. oxymorons and paradoxes abound, obviously (why would a Buddhist cling to anything? arrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh).

I loved the Anderson Cooper video, loved a mainstream guy exploring an ancient knowledge system, and finding some merit in it, for his own life and inner peace. and then sharing it widely via his role as a figure in media. there's a problem with this? I think it's great! if even ONE stressed person in the US (and there are only a few hundred million of those, right now, sheesh!) gets some relief or insight into their own consciousness because of Anderson Cooper's experience -- so much the better.

obviously, Wilson doesn't know (or doesn't care to know) about the reams of research that were done during the hey-day of the TM (Transcendental Meditation) movement in the US and worldwide, in the '70s. TM meditators were routinely hooked up to EEG, galvanic skin response, and other devices in medical schools and universities around the US, demonstrating the brainwave synchrony and other health/inner peace/stress reduction benefits possible when meditating with mantra, TM-style. the experiments were conducted by major research universities and medical schools because the results were EASY to reproduce! consistent! and showed clearly what ancient texts from India had described millenniae ago -- the 4th state of consciousness, the trance or transcendent (meditative) state. (it has a distinctly recognizable, unique brainwave patterning and other physical factors from the previously known, consistently identifiable 3 states of sleeping, waking or dreaming.)

Wilson's outrage over someone approaching meditation from a stress-reducing or medically Western approach to gather some data is just, well, anachronistic and ridiculous. (sir, your ignorance is showing!)

finally -- a word from our sponsors (the ancient rishis, or 'researchers', of India) -- the guys who wrote the Vedas millenniae ago (from which knowledge Buddhism sprang, also in India, just a more modern level of expression of the same ancient truths and observations) on the difference between 'religion' and 'spiritual stuff'. when the ancients cognized the Vedas (Veda only means 'knowledge', by the way, not dogma or religion or whatever), their consciousness was super-clear and open (not unlike later rishis, like Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Padmasambhava, Patanjali, Francis of Assisi, etc.) and they simply received the knowledge of how stuff operates in this creation. you could say, the blueprint of creation. simple. no 'you should do this' or 'you shouldn't do that' stuff, no rules per se -- simply knowledge and observation about how creation functions.

my feeling is that spiritual figures have graced this planet since time began, bringing whatever pieces of knowledge, of divine awareness, are appropriate for their age (time cycle) and region (audience) -- and within a generation or two, that pure knowledge has been codified and distorted by normal human beings without a really refined consciousness, into the best they can approximate -- ie, religions.

if you look at every religion on the planet, there are universal truths threaded through them all. the candle shapes may be different, but the light, the flame, is the same.

Wilson's regrettably silly screed against Anderson Cooper's beautiful journey may have gained him a paycheck -- but it certainly has done nothing to advance universal love, peace, and understanding among human beings.


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