More than 3,000 Buddhist monks in 100 monasteries throughout Southeast Asia have learned the Transcendental Meditation technique, as a result of the work by a revered Japanese Buddhist monk, Reverend Koji Oshima, who is a longtime TM practitioner and certified TM teacher.. Why is it so pervasive?  As a post-Christian my thinking is set out in the article  Christianity and Supernaturalism and in my second more recent article Clearing the Way for Rational Non-theistic Religion (on my site www.johnbaxter.org) I argue that the big issue is not whether or not there is behind the cosmos some sort of ultimate intelligence we might call God –  because that is something we cannot know for certain one way or the other – but whether or not supernaturalism is credible or a serious barrier to understanding what the world we live in is like. My first question when I spoke to the first Buddhist I met and then to Ajahn Sumedho was, “Can I be a Buddhist and an atheist and can I be a Buddhist and not believe literally in rebirth?  The answer to both questions was, “Yes you can.” And Ajahn Sumedho made no bones about suggesting that the gods, devas and spirit worlds referred to in the Buddhist scriptures should be interpreted as metaphors and images to help us come to terms with who we are and where we are in this present moment. When it comes to memes Blackmore points out that Dawkins saw the gene as the primary replicator driving evolution, but he was the first to see that once humans evolved into conscious beings we became the creators of cultural replicators, what he calls memes, because we are uniquely good at copying and we copy anything we can – language, culture, music , religion, fashion etc etc, good, bad and indifferent. The eight practices include right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right samadhi (meditative union). This is a fundamental concept that refers to the perpetual cycles of existence. Your email address will not be published. The Buddhist Concept of Impermanence. Types of Meditation Techniques At least by modern American practices, meditation is widely used as … Self-transcendence is the source of compassion, which means to suffer with others. We also have given her a name and we all treat and think of her as a little person of enormous value.  If for some reason we did not have these very strong inbuilt reactions and if we were not to carry out the extremely demanding patterns of care needed both now and for years to come, her chances of survival would be negligible. In Eleanor  as well as replicating patterns, reactions and fashions she picks up at school, she also laps up the supernatural narratives that are around for play and entertainment and is learning how to discern where they may provide relevance and insight to her life while clearly recognising that they are not “real.” Are these all memes too? Though inaccessible directly, God is neverth… Who knows. The “Pro-Life” and Catholic Case Carefully Examined, Mortality. The point I think she is making is that this cultural Darwinism like biological Darwinism is relentless and mindless and we should not  slip into thinking evolution will inevitably further human “progress” and the survival of our species.  Being blind it will not. Nirvana in Theravada Buddhism. Put briefly my reaction to this despite my respect for the breadth and depth of the work he has done, is that I think Keith Ward has got it wrong. Go to the British Humanist Association web site and there along with Polly Toynbee and all the other  luminaries (and an impressive list of movers and shakers they are) urging people to join is a picture and quotation from Susan Blackmore.  Since I met her back in the eighties in Bristol (an event I am sure she will not remember) she has gone on to write a widely used university textbook on Consciousness and building on the work of Dawkins has been popularising his theory of the non-biological development of cultural, scientific and religious evolution through memes, a meme being anything that can be copied. You certainly can practice Buddhist meditation whatever your religion or lack of religion, be you atheist, Humanist, Jedi Knight or born again Christian and whether you see transcendence to be something supernatural or secular.  What a future for Lola Beau and Eleanor. 1. The say it could introduce a deep cultural change throughout society in almost every area of human endeavour as more and more people take it up and become more aware and better able to handle themselves and those they work and relate to in more compassionate and rational ways.  That is a big ask, a big claim and sounds very optimistic. Right effort is detailed in four types: 1. I learnt so much about myself, my body and the workings of my own mind.  It was both a revelation in self-discovery and an experience of peacefulness and joy.  He can identify himself in photographs unaided and so is quite obviously self-aware. It also seems to me that if people disagree with Ward’s supernaturalist dualism he might simply write them off as “reductionist materialists” who refuse to see and perceive the Transcendent God behind everything. Karma is the law of consequence with regard to action, is the driving force behind the cycle of reincarnation or rebirth. We arrive at egolessness through a different path than Buddhism, but with the same effect. to yourself. On being offered the questioners’ mike I suggested that it seemed to me Mark’s approach to Mindfulness resulted in a religion being seen as a system of mental and moral training and while I thought this fitted well when applied to Buddhism, how did he think such an approach might apply to Christianity? In the Buddhist philosophy, the best path to enlightenment is somewhere in between the luxury of many in the upper castes and the poverty of the most devout Hindu holy men. There is another rapidly growing movement of thought and practice which it seems has so far been separate from the work of Crook, Blackmore and Dennet despite the recourse to meditation of Crook and Blackmore and that is the Mindfulness Movement. He is of course usually referred to simply as the Buddha, the awakened or enlightened one. This experience led him to try using meditation training to help patients cope with stress, anxiety, extreme pain and terminal illness. Whether or not the duality between this world and some otherworldly goal accurately reflects the original views of the historical Buddha, it is similar to what is found in most of the other spiritual traditions that developed around the same time, during the Axial Age (roughly 800-200 B.C.E.) This states that if you have creatures that vary ( variation) and if there is a challenging environment for them to live in so that most of them die, (selection) and if the few that survive pass on to their offspring what helped them survive, then they will be better adapted to survive (heredity) and then you MUST get evolution or design out of chaos without the aid of mind. His field was Ethology, animal behaviour, and he also “was the first scientist to try to tell the story of the Evolution of Human Consciousness in a groundbreaking book of that title published in 1980, at a time when, somewhat paradoxically, the academic discipline of psychology avoided the issue of consciousness almost entirely.”( http://www.westernchanfellowship.org/lib/wcf////johns-life/. It is clear he NEVER worshipped any god or devas and referred to them with humour and gentle deprecation.  He also used teachings to fit his audiences which of course meant using stories, metaphors and folksy humour as well as rather sharp rebuttals.  From this it appears he saw the cosmos as unending and so uncreated and so not the work of a creator god.  Does this make him an atheist or an agnostic? This opens the way to seeing the Bible as a record of personal experi­ences which, in the case Christianity, can be traced back to the foundational experiences of Jesus.” P171, His thinking here about religious experience is he points out based on that of the 19th Century German theologian Frederich Schleiermacher, but while Schleiermacher considered the Christian miracles stories to be based on “exaggeration and legend,” Ward is prepared to see them and certainly the resurrection of Jesus, as “objective events (not just states of mind) which manifest the presence and activity of God.”. Precisely because there are multiple names for God, the prideful self is prohibited from thinking that it can capture or possess God. However, a Buddhist does not think he can achieve the highest level of self-discovery through Buddha, in order to clear others’ sins and bad behaviors. Siddhartha was also a social reformer of sorts. September 11th 2001 was my sixtieth birthday and while treating myself to a computer in a store  surrounded by TV monitors I saw the world change as two airliners crashed into the twin towers. According to Merriam-Webster, it means, "exceeding usual limits," "lying beyond the limits of ordinary experience," or "being beyond comprehension." An interesting set of options. Certainly we can expect rapid developments, changes and interactions. Factors to Consider . Grasping the core concepts of Buddhism may take, well, a Buddha, but that doesn’t mean that everyday people can’t aspire to achieve the serenity and understanding that Buddha is able to … Daniel Dennet 1995. This is our need to fantasise, day-dream and opt out of our everyday world and enter an alternative world of game playing and fantasy. Moving on then to Beau, he demonstrates vividly how quickly and voraciously a lively boy with stimulating parents reacts to this treatment and becomes self aware long before the age of two using play as a tool to sort things out and make sense. This can be interpreted as seeking Awareness, Truth and Community. For Kabat-Zinn faced with patients he wishes to help but who would run a mile at the thought of getting involved with some “pagan Eastern religion” he has to an extent played down the Buddhist roots of his work – though I think this is not true if you read his most recent book which shows he is deeply Buddhist in his thinking. Eleanor goes further and underlines the extremely important part fantasy and supernatural story play in the emotional life first of a child and on reflection I think in the life of almost every adult. It is the transcendence of all arthas. Instead it recorded how the historical Gotama example he quoted the Buddha as saying)  Instead it recorded how the historical Gotama had emphasized the need for each person to seek the truth for themselves and promised peace, joy, equanimity and a key to happiness in this life in return for following the path he indicated.  It describes his way as a practice, a system of moral and mental training which is the necessary preliminary for seeing how things are in an unbiased way. Why is this so?  This is because as I have said in Clearing the Way that the fundamental truth Science shows us is that he cosmos we inhabit is remorselessly and unremittingly consistent.  This is something we can say – without any reasonable doubt – as being something we KNOW. The way to achieve transcendence is through the practice of good karma. From Christian to Atheist and meeting John Crook. Here are some of common traits of self-transcended people. This is believed to help a person achieve nirvana and release him/her from the cycle of rebirth, which is the ultimate goal in Buddhism.  We were lectured by several of the leading theologians and philosophers of religion of the day (including professors John Macquarrie and Basil Mitchell.) This means that the developments that have taken place in our understanding of logic and mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and the workings of matter in space and time we must recognise apply throughout the knowable universe – however much some may wish it were otherwise.  I did the course there in March this year (2012) and found it excellent despite or perhaps because I was disabled by back pain at the time. This is believed to help a person achieve nirvana and release him/her from the cycle of rebirth, which is the ultimate goal in Buddhism. A person who wants to follow the path of Buddhism must not remain attached to the idea of being good, otherwise, it is considered to be a similar manifestation to the one of craving for something. It surprised me that despite this strong, clear teaching Rahula following what has become the common tradition sought to insist that somehow our accumulated energies could go on and take up residence in a future life form rather than be scattered at the time of physical death as they are during life into all the forms we continually encounter and influence. Karma is the law of consequence with regard to action, is the driving force behind the cycle of reincarnation or rebirth. Buddhism is not strictly a religion in which one worships a higher power that governs the world. I’m afraid that the ultimate outcome of such concessions could be a psychologically oriented humanism tinged with Buddhist philosophy and a meditative mood.”  (www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha106.htm) We will return to look at that comment later after exploring Mindfulness, but first let us look at the rather similar disagreement Professor Keith Ward of Oxford has had with regard to Don Cupitt’s views on Christianity. Meditation I learnt is not about achieving some special unusual state of consciousness, but is simply the development of a habit of disciplined reflection, a focus first on the breath and the body and then the mind in the present moment. Meditation is a mental exercise found in all religions. Zen Buddhism is a story that masters choose because it is very direct in a way that can challenge a person's spirit to be brave enough to see. This year he has also appointed Dr John Peacock a distinguished lecturer in Buddhist Studies at Bristol University to be Co- Director of the Centre. Mother Love and Our Tendency to Anthropomorphise. By following the practices of Buddhism, we can free ourselves from these poisons as did the Buddha. Subsequently she gave up on parapsychology and has researched and written on Consciousness and Memes.  As a result we live in a sea of memes ready for our brains to replicate –and they do. At the time that saddened me but I think it was understandable.  In those days Christian theologians were only beginning to wake up to the necessity of studying other religions carefully and sympathetically if what they had to say was to have any general intellectual relevance.  In this I think many professional RS teachers I knew were often ahead of them in their attitudes if not in their scholarship.. Hinduism and Buddhism are divided into many different sects with a wide variety of beliefs. In sum, self-transcendence is a transformative way of making us complete. If you’re regularly meditating and practicing mindfulness, you’re probably already undertaking many of the practices that is advocated by Buddhism.  In the Theravada tradition which has reason to claim to be the oldest and least changed and is to be found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia,  the definition is quite simple. The first complete biographies of the Buddh… I think now many others use the term in a similar way. In Theravada Buddhism, mainly practiced in Southeast Asia, they separate the terms enlightenment and nirvana. I think there are actually many who appreciate and are inspired by the figure of Jesus, by Christian values of love, compassion, forgiveness and service to others and see these are communicated through traditional Christian story, ceremony and symbol in the practice of the worship and life of the Church who nevertheless doubt the existence of God and cannot accept supernaturalism. It is accessed by NHS patients referred by their GPs, but some of the courses are open for personal development or as a first step in preparing to be a Mindfulness trainer. This is a play for children about death, loss and mourning explored through fantasy which was really quite demanding. Buddhism does not reiterate the fact that there is a permanent migration of the souls. I have termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other th… So in becoming  involved with the Buddhist community, a Sangha or symbiotic community of monastics and their supporting householders devoted to Awareness, Truth and Community (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) and through the personal practice that inspires I certainly feel I have discovered the key to a much happier and fulfilled life and have a clear “moral compass.”  This of course does not make me perfect, always sensitive and aware. It is about an important metaphysically but also abstract concept concerning actions and their consequences. Self-transcendence sets our soul on fire and moves us to accomplish the impossible. Apply what memetics has to say to Keith Ward and we might see that the study of the religions shows us how waves of replicators are sent out by the religion founders and their disciples and these go through a process of selection and further modified replication. The point I would make is that by eight she is used to immersing herself in fantasy and supernatural stories.  Some she sees are just entertainment, others she sees make a point about how the world works and how we should behave, yet she does not confuse them with the realities of everyday life.  She is also aware and sensitive not to upset adults when she knows some believe in an invisible God who is everywhere and some do not. 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