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Morality and Daily Life

"Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"

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Hello people,

in this days of the year, when we have lots of familly/friend dinners, conversations start to wander around, and I'm afraid they will go to "i heard you are meditating, why do you do that?!"

I would be happy to go in all the detail I can with them, but I'm sure you have noticed the kind of tone they ask with, so I never really know what to answer so they don't think I went crazy, and at the same time is a decent answer.

Whats your usual answer?

Cheers!
Andy

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
12/18/09 1:39 AM as a reply to Andy Coke.
Andres Coca Lopez:

...conversations start to wander around, and I'm afraid they will go to "i heard you are meditating, why do you do that?!"

I would be happy to go in all the detail I can with them, but I'm sure you have noticed the kind of tone they ask with, so I never really know what to answer so they don't think I went crazy, and at the same time is a decent answer.

Andres, get a hold of yourself, young man. Why are you asking such a question? Do you feel self-conscious? What do you care what others think about what you are doing? Do you allow what others think to run your life? If so, perhaps there is the rub ("rub" is idiomatic for = "problem")!

Andres Coca Lopez:

Whats your usual answer?

The best course of action is to be truthful and straightforward. If someone were to ask me why I meditated, I would simply tell them "for mental and emotional clarity, insight, and equilibrium." No need to go much beyond that.

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
12/18/09 5:05 AM as a reply to Ian And.
I must be, 'cause for a second I felt offended emoticon

I do care about what people close to me think, since I dont want them to fall into the ignorance to think of meditation as some useless thing that gets you high and thats it.

Thanks for your answer, and thanks for caring and pointing that out, I'll investigate.

Cheers,
Andy

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
12/18/09 8:29 AM as a reply to Andy Coke.
My stock response is, "Because I like to". Often, this simple statement of personal preference is accepted - after all, nobody feels the need to listen to endless justifications of someone's choice of music or literature or clothing or food.

While the question ostensibly is, "why do you like it", it's really "why should I do it". We're so used to sales pitch and commercials, to being given reasons for acting certain ways, that it has become a way of thinking. Someone is doing something out of the ordinary - what's the sales message, the slogan?

So if they insist, they're actually asking the second question: "give me a reason why I should do it". At that point the only possible response is: "I can't give you a reason why you should meditate. If you find yourself meditating or having the urge to do so, that's your reason right there. Otherwise, there's no point."

Or, more diplomatically, "I can't make decisions on your behalf, but if you're thinking about starting meditation, and are looking for practical hints, I'll be glad to share what I know", i.e. if they then admit to having reasons of their own, we can get down to a real discussion of the Dharma - whether in Buddhist terms or in Christian ones or in Atheist or Mystical or whatever terms depends on the circumstances.

If they don't have any personal reasons for asking, it becomes evident at that point, and we can discuss something of mutual interest instead.

Cheers,
Florian

P.S. there's an old forum thread "What do you tell them"which revolves around this. (I don't want to appear as a spoilsport saying, "read the archives" - that was a very good discussion back then.)

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
12/19/09 5:02 AM as a reply to Andy Coke.
You can tell them that it's kind of like working out, but for your brain and nervous system, or like working out but for your mind.

Instead of running laps with only your legs, you're running laps with your attention. Everyday you keep running laps, and gradually your attention gets stronger and more fit, healthier. Like exercise and physical therapy for your mind and nervous system. Sit down in a quiet place at first to 'isolate the muscle'. Just like when you do curls to isolate your biceps. Later, you take it more and more into other activities. Just like with physical training.

That's pretty straight-forward. And no big deal. Ought to satisfy casual questioners. As for more-than-casual questioners, you probably already have tons of topics to discuss with them. You can also notice the desire in yourself for this thing that is such a big deal to you to be a big deal to other people. Sometimes alot of the 'juice' in the issue is coming from us. And the other person was just mildly interested, or did not actually care that much. Sometimes not. For me that's more of the issue. Sometimes I want to philosophize with people. The actual practice, though, is pretty straightforward. Just driving your car down the road.

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
12/20/09 4:57 AM as a reply to Nigel Sidley Thompson.
Thanks Florian, your answer sounds practical, but I guess it is to be used when you just want to 'avoid' the conversation. Which is fair enough, because sometimes discussing why I don't eat meat ruins my dinner, I don't want my Xmas dinner screwed for discussing my practice.... this kind of conversation gets real hot!!

The thread is very interesting! sounds somewhat familiar. I must admit that I'm quite lucky, since my girlfriend has become increasingly interested in meditation and is reading MCTB, Oh yeah!! However, I can predict she getting pissed off for me meditating since my levels of obsessiveness can get quite large.

Nigel, I do like your answer man, as much as I dislike analogies, that one is going tot come in handy emoticon

I reckon the problem is that I need my parents to give me their yes to go on retreat.Because, although I live in a different country, I'm a student and they keep paying. So I need them to, at least, understand that this thing is big deal, and can get juicy useful results.

Cheers guys,
Andy

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
12/23/09 7:57 AM as a reply to Andy Coke.
Andres,

This article:

http://shinzen.org/shinsub3/artHow.pdf

provides quite an elegant, concise, and comprehensive description of mental cultivation practices, contextualized in both secular and religious terms. If I were making a case to my parents as one who was currently a student I might just give them this article to read. Something about Shinzen Young's written voice is just eminently responsible, solid, and trustworthy. It's also quite straightforward.

There are many other similarly well-written articles right there at www.shinzen.org which might similarly serve your purpose.

Personally, I'm so very happy for you that you've recognized the value of retreat practice while you're still in a life-phase in which you can take advantage of it. Good for you! And I hope you have a very fruitful practice!

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
12/29/09 6:54 AM as a reply to Nigel Sidley Thompson.
Thanks Nigel, it is a great read. It is true that Shinzen Young has that something in his way of talking about this stuff. It is a shame my parents cant speak much English!

So far I tryied to avoid as much as I could talking about it, will se what happens in the next big dinneremoticon . Although my friends seem quite open to it, and some of them even asked me to get them all together and teach them how to meditate.

Cheers,
Andy

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
1/1/10 4:55 AM as a reply to Andy Coke.
I meant to mention that there are Spanish translations of many of the articles. Is that your parents' language?

At any rate, it sounds like you might not need these articles for your parents. Just wanted to make sure you knew.

Nigel

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
1/1/10 6:53 AM as a reply to Nigel Sidley Thompson.
Thats right, I don't really want to give it to my parents. It is more for me find a way to explain it... but the article is so nice that I'd like to just print a copy for'em.

Thanks for letting me know,

have a good new year!

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
1/6/10 9:22 PM as a reply to Andy Coke.
Just tell them it's like prayer. Unless they're atheist.

Then tell them it's like rigorous self analyzation.

Think that covers both sides of the spectrum.

RE: "Huh, I heard you are meditating... how's that?"
Answer
1/25/10 4:04 AM as a reply to Andy Coke.
Yeah, I know the feeling. I work and live in a place where there isn't much stuff like this around and basically never talk about it at work for similar reasons.