A warm welcome to every one of you.
We have a 30-minute guided meditation. A talk will follow the guided meditation on Mindfulness engaged with Secular, Spiritual and Religious Views.
Guided Meditation/Talk consists of a transcription, edit and adaption to text from a Zoom talk. This talk was given to new teachers of mindfulness training in our 12 month MIndfulness Teacher Training Course (MTTC).
The Guided Meditation consists of a sentence or two followed by 30-60 seconds silence and then another sentence or two.
Guided Meditation on the Relative and Ultimate (Non-Relative)
- Let us sit in an upright posture for a sense of presence, a sense of well-being.
- If we sit in a chair, then place two feet firmly on the ground. Sit tall with a straight back for calmness and clarity.
- Let us meditate and reflect on the relative, everyday agreement about the way things are. For example, I, whoever I am, is just sitting here being mindful, meditating. Let us establish ourselves here and now reducing time dwelling on the past or in hopes or fears in relationship to the future.
- Breathe in and breathe out to relax the whole being to contribute to feeling composed, integrated and grounded
- Experience the influence/impact of the past on the present. Be mindful of any conditioning, habit, memory, story, mental tiredness, boredom, reactivity and much more.
- Be as clear as possible if consciousness finds itself on the receiving end of past habits, conditioning. Let us remember. We are not always under such influence.
- Perhaps right now, you do not feel oppressed by your history, by whatever has gone before in your life
- Right now, the past does not have an unhealthy, problematic influence. We can trust in this experience of calmness and clarity, a presence without effort
- The present can confirm the fruit, an outcome, a consequence in challenging ways of the past upon the present or the past lacks such an impact. These are examples of relative truth.
- The present moment can also acknowledge nothing problematic in your immediate experience. There is nothing impacting you of the old affecting what you see, hear smell, taste, touch and think. This is also the relative truth of the present.
- In the absence of any domination of the past, we can sense the living present. This clarity can make a valuable contribution serving as a seed to develop, explore and cultivate for the future. We can develop a wise contribution to the future, to what might be or will be.
- The future exists relative to the present and past. Meditate on this.
- We can initiate a creative engagement and a fresh initiative
- Let us explore the three fields of time knowing our relationship to the past, its influence on the present and the influence of the relationship of the present to the future.
- These are major priorities in the field of human experience with three fields of time comprising of relative truth to each other.
- Meditation and reflection support the integration of past, present and future.
- We can experience this small world of consciousness with its content called past, present and future
- while acknowledging the relative, ordinary, conventional and the everyday, not in denial
- Let us not contract into consciousness and its content.
- Let us not contract into the relative truth, into the fields of time.
- Let us sense the everyday limits of the human being.
- Let us sense an Expanse not dependent on conditions of past, present and future.
- Know a sense of things where the self is not the centre of the stage.
- Stay receptive to the Expanse, the Vast, transcending the finiteness of involvement in matters of past, present and future.
May all beings look deeply into things
May all beings be receptive to that beyond limitations
May all beings know a free and expansive way of life
A Talk. Mindfulness and the Secular, Spiritual and Religious
I would like to speak to you about three kinds of human experience – secular view, spiritual view and religious view. All three kinds have their benefits and limits.
It would be unfortunate if we narrowed ourselves down into one of three key areas. A narrow view creates a blind spot to seeing what the others have to offer. We can appreciate in the everyday world secular views and values in relationship to things, science, psychology, philosophy, and more. It is a skill to recognise the benefits, to learn and know about them yet dwell clear regarding the limits and impact of the limits secular views on human beings. A secular life cannot offer clarity, well-being or liberation from suffering.
Much of the populations suffers at times from mental health issues – stress, anxiety, fears, anger, depression and more. Secularism does not generate widespread peaceful co-existence with others, creatures or the natural world. Global issues go hand in hand with secularism.
We might describe spirituality as freedom from obsessing around money, consumer goods, personal success and recognition from others. Our sense of the spiritual lies beyond ownership of goods and personal identity. Although hard to put into words, the spiritual reveals a deep sense of ethics, values and inter-connection with life bring about a sense of awe, wonder and gratitude. The spiritual has its shadow, its limits. Identification with spirituality can put us out of touch with the real world. We can live in a romanticised view of life, false and deceptive.
Religion, including Buddhism, can remind us of the importance of love, hospitality, service and, the knowing of God (the Ultimate, the Limitless). People of faith develop through sharing life with a community of others, of the like-minded. Faith gives emotional comfort in a time of crisis. The power of prayer and meditation reveal the spiritual such as sitting in the Gothic cathedral, sitting in a monastery or in the forest. Religion can provide a precious place in our life. People of faith can form sects, cults, dogmatic views and feed hatred of non-believers.
Some feel at home with the language of God, and some do not. Secularism spiritualism and religion has its problems. Western mindfulness often places emphasis on a secular application of mindfulness/meditation with little reference to spirituality and religion. This is a narrow view.
Know Your Audience
This talk is a reminder to everybody of a practical, down to earth engagement to give support to reducing stress and pressure to contribute to people seeing clearly. You apply knowledge, skills and practices. That does not mean to say that we overlook spirituality and religion.
To communicate effectively, you will need to know your audience. If you are going to teach mindfulness and meditation, you will need to listen to the motivations and the intentions of the practitioners. Do not assume your knowledge and experience of mindfulness/meditation/psychology means that everyone in your group needs to hear an exclusively secular approach.
Genuinely deep sentiments arise in the community of practitioners unrelated to secular ideology so secular language might not be helpful or valuable. Is there anything in life which reveals a spiritual sense for the practitioners? Ask people if religion plays any role in their life?
Can we nourish and encourage those voices to share their relationship to the secular, the spiritual and the religious? Can such sharing make a remarkable contribution to a deeper awareness and a significant reduction in suffering? Do practitioners have the feeling of being heard, and listened to by the mindfulness teacher? Do not play safe, do not just stay within the confinement of classical mindfulness forms, practices, techniques and meditations.
Some practitioners have little opportunity in life to share their experience or interest in the spiritual and religious sensitivities. They feel embarrassed. They feel they won’t be understood. They will hear they are out of touch with reality. You might think their needs and beliefs have nothing directly to do with mindfulness or meditation. It has everything to do with the practice. Sincere spiritual and religious beliefs can give immense support to people who suffer. Your clarity, love and curiosity will contribute to their sharing and speaking that often went unspoken. You offer empathy and understanding rather than dismiss beliefs you do not share.
Explore the values of the secular, the spiritual and the religious revealed through the arts, meditation, mindfulness, sharing, nature, sudden awakening and more. Recognise the values of spiritual and religious, which can make a major contribution to healing, to recovery, to being born again to coming out of the old suffering.
Mindfulness teachers need to keep our heart and mind open to views around life, death and after-life. Keep your eyes and ears open to those with needs and beliefs different from secular orthodoxy.
If you’ve already dismissed, the value of authentic spiritual/religious experience, you have closed your mind down. You haven’t had enough experience with spiritual/religious people and the gods and angels in such a way of life. An anti-spiritual, anti-religious view reveals the same problem as the anti-secular view. The view confirms a form of rejection and denial and a missed opportunity for a range of ways of experiencing life, meaning and action.
It is our challenge to listen.
Wealth of Past Experience
Wise mindfulness teachers do not fit neatly into any specific box – not bound to a secular, spiritual or religious view. You hear something in one of these categories, you may not know how to respond. This will occur regularly. My goodness me, this certainly can be a trigger to find out. Anybody who says, “I don’t know. Nobody knows” shows an irresponsible response. “I may not know in the moment. I can find out a lot. I can make the shift from not knowing to developing an understanding about an area. That challenge means reflection, mindfulness, meditation, research, conversations and meetings plus reading, watching YouTube, and more.
We begin to absorb our awareness, meditation and knowledge to develop. a degree of understanding. That is precious for that person, group and for decades to come. We do not offer a teaching of being proud to stay in the unknown, to glorify mystery and limits of thought. There is a sadness to hold to that kind of viewpoint.
The past can influence the present in healthy ways, wonderful ways. Thank goodness, we do not promote the spiritual ideology of being in the Now or being in the Here and Now. That is such a blind spot. It is an ideology for the lazy mind.
Let’s see what we have learned. Let’s turn our attention away from the here and now and investigate the past, so we recognise and acknowledge the benefits, the insights and the moments of change of view. Never underestimate the wealth of your experience and what you have gone through. You can put hand on heart. You go to the past situation, which might have been a nightmare. You never thought you would get through it. It was merciless due to the causes and conditions triggering the nightmare. You got through it. One of the great things about our humanity: we can feel grateful that we went through hell because it enabled us to develope as a human being.
We learned so much out of it with so many insights. Many wonderful insights for women, men and others on this Earth arose in incredibly tough times. These insights produced an empowerment. Others have not had to go through that. They also draw from their clarity, insights and wisdom found in their wellbeing. This also, gives great support to others.
Let us not restrict our being to a priority of the consciousness in contact with past, present or future. Let’s recognise that sometimes our everyday world can be quiet and non-intrusive. We can allow a receptivity to that which is not of time, which is Timeless. Being time-less, it is naturally expansive. Let’s take an interest in that without it falling into the constraints of the secular spiritual, religious box. The Timeless supports the wisdom of life with love and empathy. The construct of time rests in the timeless. Timeless confirms the non-relative, the transcendent.
A loving human being has a natural and organic wish to share through communication, action, the poetry of life, silence and meditation, a deep exchange, a reflection, the written word and much more. As I wrote in one of my poems, we can add an extra string to our violin to expand our human exploration and human discourse.
Let’s have a quiet minute together.