Both meditation and weight lifting offer all sorts of health benefits — both mental and physical. But perhaps many of you, like me, have seen twisted uses of each where it is clear that good things can harm us.
Imagine the weightlifters staring at themselves in the gym mirrors. I’ve seen physicians with desktop computer wallpaper of themselves doing muscle poses. OK, sure, it is their hobby. But think of the lifters who hope to be more attractive and respected by lifting — “health” is their least motivation. Think of the hours and hours spent with such endeavors.
Imagine meditation groups where people are intentionally trying to be less talkative, intentionally trying to appear more thoughtful. Imagine meditators who run to groups looking for community, acceptance and meaning in life while chanting the orthodoxy of non-attachment. Think of those who pride is boasted because they now feel more spiritual or who feel they can see reality clearer than non-meditators. Or imagine the Tantric groups who imagine themselves sexually free, radically counter-cultural yet merely feeding their own twisted neuroses.
Ironically we can spend lots of time building a simple skill but only use it to reinforce bad habits of mind. The new beneficial skill ironically makes you weaker.
Interestingly, here is a Buddhist story that points at the foolishness of good things hurting us:
One day the Buddha met an ascetic who sat by the bank of a river. This ascetic had practiced austerities for 25 years. The Buddha asked him what he had received for all his labor. The ascetic proudly replied that, now at last, he could cross the river by walking on the water. The Buddha pointed out that this gain was insignificant for all the years of labor, since he could cross the river using a ferry for one penny!
— from Edward Conze’s Buddhism: It’s Essence and Development
Can the pursuit of science, reason and logic do the same? Absolutely. How about religion? Most certainly. How about blogging? Hell no. Nothing but virtue and benefits there.
Pic Credit: Girl in road — I added the bar bell!