Zen Is Driving The Sword In, With Inner Peace
Most people have the wrong idea of meditation.
Context: I was once talking with someone who referred to herself as a witch. In the banter I nick named her Melisandre in reference to the The Red Woman from the show Game Of Thrones
She retorted that her friends think she’s more like Cersei and to that I noted that she has to have had at least one person killed, preferably more. Bonus for friends and family. To that she said
That is not very Zen for a meditation teacher
Though she was playing the joke this comment does speak to a larger misperception that meditation is for hippies and only about world peace. Indeed if people meditate there is more peace, but there is not more peace because meditation is about morals, ethics, being good, religious or being a door mat. There is only more peace when more peace is the most logical and sensible path forward.
But if you’re in the middle of a battle field and your job is to remove the body of an enemy before they remove yours, meditation will actually help you be a better killer.
In fact meditation does not change who you are, it makes you better at who you are.
It does not change your morals or ethics, it simply helps you live better by them. So if you’re a mass murderer, you’ll be … actually just don’t meditate please!
If you’re in battle in the court room, in the board room, the bar room or the bedroom you’ll be better at it. And you’ll get less stressed in the process.
Not only that, you’ll process these traumas such that they won’t haunt you.
I have a friend who was involved in a lot of killing as a young man conscripted into the special forces of his country. Almost 20 years on he is plagued and haunted by his past. Even though he strongly believes in his country and what he did, he is haunted by the darkness of his past. By the hate for his enemy and by extension for himself. After so long he still has not resolved the inner conflict. He slit the throats of many enemies but his biggest enemy is within.
And this is what a good meditation practice is all about. Resolving the cause of all conflicts – inner conflict and suffering. My friend suffers, and he has spread his suffering to others through less than optimal interactions with other people. Yet he is a good man. A generous loyal friend to those he trusts – when he is able to trust.
Why The Heck Is Meditation Associated With Hippies And World Peace?
Though meditation has been around for thousands of years it was first made popular in the west in the 1960’s. Of note during that time the Beatles became strong advocates.
This was both a blessing and a curse. It brought meditation to the attention of almost all of the population but it also “tagged” meditation erroneously with being “hippy”. This latter bit unfortunately caused millions and millions of people to think that meditation was not for them and only for hippies. This then denied those people the incredible benefits of meditation. For example Vedic Meditation brings rest that is several times deeper than the deepest point in a night’s sleep. This deep rest leads to many benefits such as the slowing and reversal of biological aging, much reduced rates of cancer and heart disease, more efficiency and effectiveness, greater happiness and the list goes on (and on and on and on). More importantly it denied the world the benefits of when a community/country meditates. These include less crime, less accidents (those studies may be limited to car accidents from memory), greater health, more peace, cooperation, productivity and generally a greater sense of health and well being.
We are now well into the second wave of popularity of meditation. It is becoming main stream and the hippy tag is not as strong.
Interestingly the big issue we face now is the general lack of good knowledge around meditation. With people creating $9.99 apps and generally spreading a misunderstanding of meditation the most common comment I receive nowadays is “that is counter intuitive” (compared to say 10 years ago when I was teaching before this second wave). For example as I explain that “thoughts are a part of meditation” or “you will lose your mantra from time to time [in Vedic Meditation]” people look at me puzzled and say “that’s counter intuitive”. In fact some of these simple facts about meditation are so misunderstood that I might have to repeat them to students more than 20 times over the years of follow-up before it fully sinks in.
Don’t Give Up On Peace
From a Vedic perspective, violence is a part of our age.
We happen to be at a less violent time in this cycle of Kali Yuga according to the Veda but violence will be a part of our lives and the lives of many future generations before we see peace across the world again. Does this mean we give up on peace in our lives? I highly recommend against giving up on that. It simply means that we have even more good reasons to meditate. For if one day we are personally affected by violence our meditation practice will help us resolve it more quickly, effectively, efficiently and with inner peace.