Minding the mind:
Global meditation wave
"The mind travels vast distances. It strays all alone. It's bodiless
has no form. Those who are capable of restraining that kind of mind,
will escape the bonds of death."
The Supreme Buddha
The general assumption is that, profound mind - culture is - more or
less - an exclusive eastern heritage. Meditation, psychic powers,
mindfulness, yogic exercises and various other disciplines associated
with those flourished mostly in oriental spiritual systems.
Arahants, sages, rishis, ascetics, seers and various others of the
same calibre are totally given to a way of life that is related to many
forms of mind culture. The end-aim of a religious life is the
achievement of moksha, liberation, nibbana or the summum bonum. The path
that led to this supreme goal was the practice of mind culture.
For quite some time, the westerners tended to think of mind -
cultivation as exotic. An occasional westerner, disillusioned with
worldly life, may come over to an eastern land, seeking spiritual
guidance to overcome his angst-ridden stresses.
The meditation therapy he receives, may persuade him to years for
total monk hood, eschewing lay-life fully.
A mass-level interest in mindfulness - meditation did not manifest
itself widely in the western world, about a decade ago. But, for some
years now, several highly responsible western scientists had been
conducting profound studies,to test the efficacy of Vipassana Bhavana
(Insight meditation) in their systems of therapy.
A devotee of Ven. Deranagama Kusaladhamma Maha Thera, chairperson The
Buddhist Channel, presented to him the copies of papers, embodying the
results of some of those sustained studies.
Such world-renowned experts as Prof. Richard Davidson of the
University of Wisconsin and Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn of Massachusetts
University Medical Centre are prominent among the scientists conducting
studies in the field of mindfulness meditation.
When I imbibed the contents of these papers with deep interest, I
could not help but think, that these findings touched only a limited
coterie of high academics. These discoveries, I felt at that time, did
not affectively reach a wider swath of the people.
While I was in such a frame of mind, I was jolted into a state of
spiritual joy, by the cover - stay of a recent issue of the globally
known news-magazine TIME.
In her surprise packed presentation, writer Kate Pickert proclaimed
that a revolutionary tidal wave of mindful meditation, has
transformingly engulfed a vast mass of people in the US. For ages, we in
the eastern lands, have been thinking of us as the proud resignal
legatees of the meditation culture of the orient.
But, in the light of her revelations, we see that we have not been
able to utilise our inherited mindful - meditation systems, with that
practical efficacy. Nor have we been able to take them to mass-level
though we in Sri Lanka have only very limited population.
As the writer records there are nearly 1,000 certified instructors
teaching mindfulness techniques (including meditation) and they are in
nearly every state in the US and more than 30 countries.
The curriculum of mindfulness-meditation that is so extensively
patronised is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and has been
developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat Zinn.
The meditation program counters the multiple instructions, that
assault an individual inhabiting today's technology-dominated digital
The MBSR course, restores mindfulness, placing you strictly where you
belong - here and now.
What should interest us in this new development, is that we are being
presented a system, borrowed largely from Buddhism. But it is been given
to us, in a brand new packaging.
I admire the modernised presentation of a system of mindful
meditation we have known for centuries. Through such sermons as the Maha
Satipatthane Sutta (The Great discourse on the establishing of
In this specific discourse, the Buddha teaches the devotee the
meditation on the Breath inhaled and exhaled.
In Pali this is termed ana-pana-sati (being mindful of inhaling and
The system of mindfulness-meditation that is being taught, has been
quite widely adopted in the US.
This result - oriented meditation system, as has been described by
the writer, has interested the administrators of the country as well.
Democratic congressman Tim Ryam is making an effort to raise more
federal funds for mindfulness research.
I feel quite grateful to the writer Kate Pickert for her substantial
chronicling of this Meditation Revolution.
One specific purpose I had in mind, when I thought of paying a
tribute to this article was to request our own country, that has a
tradition of over 2500 years of Buddhist Meditation, to arrange
practical studies of this role-model.
This system has a wide-ranging application. Corporate bodies could
opt to ensure a more focussed on performances.
Elizabeth Stanley, is making an effort to give the benefits of this
meditation system to those in uniform as well. It is interesting to note
that in Sri Lanka, Gen. Daya Ratnayaka has already introduced meditation
as a component in regular Army Training.
I would suggest, that the article by writer Kate Pickert be
reproduced and distributed to all those to whom such information matters
of course courtesy TIME and writer Kate Pickert.