Mindfulness and religion
Oct16

Mindfulness and religion

Except from my forthcoming book: Mindfulness: The Full Works   Mindfulness and religion   At the beginning of Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey a black monolith appears in a prehistoric landscape. An ape picks up a bone of a dead animal (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypEaGQb6dJk at 6.30) and strikes at the apes of a rival tribe; his companions follow suit, and a new era is born. What was formerly just a bones is now a tool, in this case a weapon. Technology is born, and with it all of its benefits and drawbacks.   To make this move, that ape had to do something specific with his mind. He had to have an idea. He had to make the first ever abstraction. He had to draw out from his multifarious experience the idea ‘tool.’ Once he had the idea, he could look for a tool in the world of concrete experience; he could pick up the bone. But first he had to make that leap: the first abstraction. It was no doubt a similar process when man invented fire. Someone would have had to abstract the idea ‘heat’ from their surroundings. Feeling the warmth of the sun; seeing lightning burn the brushwood on the hillside; the warmth of the body. Between all those things was a common factor: ‘heat.’ This capacity to make abstractions from his experience eventually gave mankind mastery over his environment and technological prowess.   But the evolution of technology does not explain the origin of religion, or how mankind evolved ritual. For some the reason was social. After studying Australian aborigine culture Emile Durkheim deduced that because religion existed everywhere it must have been social useful: in producing collective well-being, cohesion and integration. Roy Rappaport proposes that ritual is the original and primary means of creating systems of meaning that ground and give life to society. (Ritual: A Very Short Introduction) He even thinks it predates language and conceptual ideas. Without what we understand in a common sense way as religion humanity could not have emerged from its proto-human condition. And while it is impossible to prove, he thinks that religions’ origins are closely connected with the origins of humanity. Personally I agree. I think that religion and ritual evolved to make sense of what man could not conceptualize, technologize or master: what was deep in the bowels of the earth or high in the sky beyond his reach. Even with our technology today and the technology we imagine in the future there will always be something it cannot master. The question of how to live.   Emile Durkheim proposed that religion is basically a “social...

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Loving kindness meditation
Jul13

Loving kindness meditation

According to Buddhism it is possible to consciously develop a sense of care towards ourself and others. Meditation can give us the space to consciously look at the emotions we have towards any person. And because our emotion towards a person is often based on our view of them, if we transform the view of the person to be more realistic than it is, and see them not as an object but as a living being who cares about their experience; wants to be happy and does not want to suffer, then the emotion we have towards that person is transformed from indifference or hostility to a sense of care for them.   Guided meditation on developing loving kindness towards ourselves and others (41 minutes) – find a way to sit comfortably on firm cushions or a chair and listen to this guided meditation. Loving kindness meditation – 12th July 2015 http://mahabodhi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Loving-kindness-meditation.mp3  ...

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Grounding meditation
Jul12

Grounding meditation

Meditation grounding awareness in the body....

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Basic grounding in experience
Jul12

Basic grounding in experience

This meditation provides the basic grounding in experience upon which all other meditation is based. It includes a calming relaxation. (28 minutes)...

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West London Buddhist Centre
Jun23

West London Buddhist Centre

Here are some images of the new West London Buddhist Centre, 45a Porchester Road, Royal Oak, London.   [envira-gallery id=”1119″]

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