Meditations: Viagra and the Art of Meditation
Viagra and the Art of Meditation
A recent front-page article about meditation in "Time" magazine offered up this straight line: "Meditation can sometimes be used to replace Viagra."
Let's see if I got that right. Men, instead of taking that little blue pill tonight to restore or enhance your sexual function, try meditation. It might help you get it up. Oh please.
I put off reading the essay until I was in the right state of mind to receive such pearls of wisdom. But an inherently silly article slipped the bonds of earth and became pure inanity with that single sentence.
The more popular meditation becomes in America, the more I have to meditate to avoid being overwhelmed by despair. What are these millions of people doing? To my mind sitting in groups watching one's breathing, visualizing certain images, conjuring good feelings, or repeating some stupid word over and over again has about as much to do with meditation as Viagra.
When I was still in my teens, and the Beatles were still together, a friend talked me into taking "Transcendental Meditation," the rip-off started by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi whereby one paid for a special sound unique to you. For a few months my friend and I dutifully set aside 20 minutes a day to silently intone our personal vibration.
Then, despite being under penalty of karmic disaster should we disclose our special sound, we couldn't resist sharing our secret word with each other. We had the same darn sound!
In the 19th century, when hypnotism was all the rage, the gullible turned their minds over to some charlatan only too willing to separate them from their money. Hypnotism was touted as a cure for everything, from psychological problems to medical conditions, just as meditation is today. We've come a long way. Now people are self-inducing their trances.
Though I'm fighting the Mississippi in saying this, meditation has nothing to do with concentrating on one's breathing, visualizing images or good feelings, or repeating some silly sound. These "flavors" can and do trick the mind into a trance, but they cannot effortlessly gather attention, awaken insight, and produce spiritual growth.
Revealingly, there is very little discussion in the popular conception of meditation of religious experience, even though the utter emptiness of this godforsaken culture is what is driving millions of people to so-called meditation. Meditation is viewed in secular terms, as a stress-reducer, not in spiritual terms, as the means and end for a serious life.
It is late afternoon, pleasantly warm in town, though hot on the ridge beyond it. Dry, brown grass crackles underfoot. After taking in the precipitous and breathtaking view of the canyon, I sit in the partial shade of a manzanita tree.
The canyon looms below, and fans out to my right. Hawks fly below or just above eye level, and sometimes circle within a few meters. Every now and then I hear a truck on the highway, but the world is enveloped by beauty. The place is still essentially as it was a million years before man, and the feeling of the primeval is still here.
A hot breeze blows through the small leaves of the manzanita. Imperceptibly, the accretions of time and experience dissolve. When I stand, there is only the heat of the sun on my bare back, and the grandeur of the canyon unrolling before me.
Awakening meditation begins with communion with nature, and ends in depths beyond time and space. When ego and thought have been completely silenced through unwilled and undivided attention, the brain acts like a large receiver dish for the background sacredness of the universe.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. I have been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe for 20 years. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.