Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 9 February 2014





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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.

Spiritual joy

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 society.

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 mindfulness.)

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 exhaling.

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.

LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lank
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)
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