One thing that I remind myself as I meditate on retreat is that meditation is biological. For all the spiritual mumbo jumbo that we use, meditation is science. It’s a neurological thing, to be precise. There’s a very important sense in which meditation is about making the brain work better. As one medical doctor puts it, “neurons that wire together fire together” (or something like that, don’t quote me).
Western philosopher (and dead white guy) Blaise Pascal seems to have asked a similar question (as the one I raised in my last post), several centuries ago, because he made this statement: Note: I am currently sitting on my ass for a 10 day meditation retreat. This post was written and scheduled in advance.
As I said in my prior post, a few folks take to meditation naturally. The first time they sit, they drop into calm serenity and/or into a state of deep concentration, picturesque, like a lovely little Buddha, they seem only a few shades away from complete and total enlightenment. Well, good for them, but that’s not me, and that’s not most of us, and in a sense, that’s not really the point of meditation. I know the format for this particular meditation retreat, this being my fourth one. It’s between 10 and 11 hours of meditation a day for ten days. Mostly, it’s just sitting and sitting and sitting and sitting. And more sitting. And you start to feel bat shit crazy.
I’m heading out on another 10-day Vipassana meditation (S.N. Goenka, for those of you into Vipassana). I leave today, and soon I’ll be completely offline. (We all literally check our cell phones at the door, and we don’t see them again for ten days.) You’ll still see some blog posts show up, however, because I’ve done some writing in advance and scheduled a few posts ahead of time, a few simple reflections on meditation and retreats and whatnot. It’s possible that you’re reading this, and a 10-day retreat sounds quite impressive. I’m more than happy to take any and all of your compliments and admiration, but in truth I’m only able to do a 10 days because I’ve been meditating for a very long time. When I first began meditating, I wasn’t a natural.
I’ve had some epic spiritual experiences in my life, big Grand Canyon moments that changed the course of my life, but when I look back on my spiritual journey, I’d say that it’s the small things that have really made the deepest, most lasting change. Epic experiences are deeply powerful, and they’ve change the direction of my life, putting into focus what’s important and what’s not, but addressing more and more I think that it’s the little things that have helped me deal with my deep-rooted ego-issues. I’ve shed tears at the rim of the Grand Canyon, on the cusps of a major life change, but I think that there’s been more power in understanding an itch.
One of the things that has gotten a lot of press lately is how Evangelical leaders who are a part of Trump’s informal faith advisory council have stuck with their man, even after Trump’s Charlottesville fiasco. Even after Trump wavered on his condemnation of white supremacy in his recent comments on Charlottesville — indicting “both sides,” as though the left shared just as much blame as neo-NAZI’s — evangelical leaders continue to stand by Trump. Even after a wave of prominent CEOs defected from one of Trump’s advisory groups and even after every last soul resigned from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, prominent evangelical leaders continue to ring out their support, which has come most ardently (and most infamously) from Jerry Falwell, Jr. who took to Twitter to praise Trump in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s Charlottesville speech. The most obvious question: Why? Given how at-odds Trump is with the basic tenants of morality and spirituality as taught by Jesus, how can evangelicals remain so steadfast in their support for Trump?