Sunday, August 25, 2013

Waking up

Lake Josephine, St. Paul, MN, V.Bergman.
Within the past year or so, I've received criticism from a couple of meditation practitioners for keeping up with the news, a habit I acquired in childhood. I remain unclear as to the exact objections of my critics to my staying informed.

I understand that people who suffer from chronic depression might want to stay away from the daily news, but how about the rest of us?

On the other hand, I took issue at an event not long ago with a seminary professor expressing his disdain for meditation practitioners - in his words, "navel gazers," who turn their backs on social justice issues and world affairs.

In his book, Being Peace, Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh responds with great clarity and simplicity to the conflicting opinions on this matter:  should the meditator follow current events or ignore what's happening in the world?

Meditation is to be aware of what is going on - in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day 40,000 children die of hunger. The superpowers now have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy our planet many times. Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects...

(In Buddhism, waking up means being aware of what's going on in our bodies, our feelings, our minds, and in the world.)

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