I don’t mean to get “wise,” here. Someone start making fun of me.
I just want to emphasize, I do believe that the whole meditation memeplex interrelates with the following list and much more:
wonder, joy, awe, rest, longing, searching, ease, ecstasy, incompleteness, loss, suffering, transcendence, profundity, meaning, authenticity, purpose, self-expression, grace, surrender, sacredness, annihilation, expansion, communion, sacrifice, being, safety, artistry, release, indifference, love, intimacy, compassion, meaninglessness, immanence, embodiment, beauty, dignity…
It would be surprising if meditation didn’t. Part of meditation is exploring your meaning-making system and your relationship with the entire phenomenal world. (I’ll be more precise about this in a future post.)
Perhaps you can still be a technically proficient meditator and not really ever have to unpack all the “spiritual” stuff. I don’t think anything up in that list *has* to conflict with naturalism or joy in the merely real, and all that.
Personally, without some of the positive stuff up there, I don’t really think life would be worth living. And I think meditation is a particularly powerful tool to explore those realms. But it’s just one tool. Reading your biochem textbook or reading about the sociology of abuses of power by religious figures are other tools. Everything about everything. You can’t leave anything out.
I do utilize spirituality as a concept, and I desire my “spirituality” to really, really deliver, in the deepest, truest, most personally meaningful way on a big chunk of what traditional religion promises. Spirituality for me also involves gazing into the abyss and standing naked before an indifferent universe. Exploring all that may or may not be part of my project, here.
On this blog, I want to keep things precise and useful and generally accessible–I presume most people cringe when they hear something like “grace,” a) because it’s not part of their personal value system, or b) it’s an extremely vague concept (until you pin down what you’re actually talking about). I dig that.
Some people might like to read Paul Tillich’s work, in which he defines faith as “ultimate concern.” (And for others it won’t resonate and will provoke much eye-rolling.)
I’m stealing this from the wikipedia page above:
“[…] It transcends both the drives of the nonrational unconsciousness and the structures of the rational conscious…the ecstatic character of faith does not exclude its rational character although it is not identical with it, and it includes nonrational strivings without being identical with them. ‘Ecstasy’ means ‘standing outside of oneself’ – without ceasing to be oneself – with all the elements which are united in the personal center.” — Tillich , Dynamics of Faith, p.8-9
For me, part of my ultimate concern is having the right ultimate concern(s).
And that means I’m concerned with everything.
I’m concerned with phenomenology, epistemology, ontology, ethics, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, folk wisdom, social psychology, math, logic, computability theory, much more, and, yes, some metaphysics and traditional religion, for every last bit of value I can squeeze from them.