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Something that’s been bugging me for a long time is that it’s very difficult to talk about meditation in way that attracts people that I do want to be around and repels people that I don’t want to be around. (I mean, I don’t mind being around, or I even enjoy the company of, people I want to repel. I just don’t want them around, sometimes, because they make it harder to keep around the people that I want around.)
Typically, when I start a meditation meetup, it brings in a lot of new agey people who aren’t particularly inclined towards panoramic, internally consistent, reality-grounded mental models. Or, too few people show up. And those latter people often do turn into friends, which was part of the point, but that’s not the same thing as a robust, like-minded group that regularly meets.
It’s possible that meetup.com doesn’t have much of the right demographic, but I’m still having trouble doing reliable (read “any”) marketing outside of super-easy stuff like creating meetups. (Suggestions appreciated.)
I also assume that the people I’m interested in attracting don’t have a high expectation of a high-quality meditation group appearing on meetup.com.
So, I’m continually looking for concise, polarizing wording that will get people to join or not join with high sensitivity and specificity. Below is a chunk of a recent draft I’m playing with. Comments greatly appreciated. (Of course, of course, I actually have much more nuanced, loosely-held beliefs, lalala, but I’m writing words to do a job, and they’re truthful enough that I don’t feel super-disingenuous.)
- No living human brain, no human consciousness.
- After we die there’s just oblivion forever.
- Humans are a result of evolution and natural selection.
- Evolutionary psychology can be a framework for understanding human values and human behavior.
- Deep, heartfelt intuitions as well as values, goals, concerns and practices are shaped by evolution.
- Spiritual values, goals, concerns, and practices were and are invented by humans for human purposes.
- Spiritual teachings and instructions drift over time and are subject to idiosyncratic interpretations by the people providing them and the people consuming them.
- Spiritual claims, values, goals, and practices are a mixture of superstition, metaphysics, exaggeration and dogma.
- Spiritual claims, values, goals, and practices are also influenced by painstaking, albeit informal experimenting over thousands of years.
- Claims about spirituality can be wrong.
- All maps are wrong, but some are extremely more useful than others, depending on what you’re trying to do. Map selection is an ongoing process.
- Science is on ongoing human endeavor, but it provides the best map we currently have for navigating reality. There is also room for science-aware speculation and experiment in informal communities of practice in which common values, goals, practices, and concerns are shared.
- Some spiritual claims, values, goals, and practices are compelling and meaningful for some people, some of the time.
- Scientific methods, as well as tenaciousness, playfulness, and creativity can be useful for testing, modifying, refining, discarding, and reappropriating spiritual claims, values, goals, and practices, as well as inventing new ones. We could call all of this “transformative practice,” more generally. Peer-reviewed research is already showing possible benefits (and dangers) of transformative practices, but this research is in its infancy, and communities of practice are just as important.
- Switching gears, everyone living their lives on their own terms, individually and collectively, to the greatest extent possible, is a good thing to strive towards.
- And, in conclusion, transformative practices (like meditation), carried out by individuals and communities, over many years, can be a tiny puzzle piece in the above striving, and can be a very important, meaningful, useful, and gratifying puzzle piece, for some people, some of the time.