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Meditation as a profession?

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Meditation as a profession?
Answer
9/30/14 2:24 PM
Hi all,

I've recently graduated college and have been in the process of looking for full time employment and what the hell to do with the rest of my life. People always tell you to pursue what you love, and I do love meditation, vipassana or samatha. It's actually one of the only things that I feel is "worth" pursuing in a professional fashion. I actually don't even care about my degree that much at all. (Mechanical Engineering) It feels like any job I pursure would not be ideal for my sila due to the fact that most companies aren't exactly adept at morality and partake in some morally reprehensible activities. 

My question is: do any of you know a way to pursue meditation as a career? I'm not particularly interested in becoming a teacher as I'm pretty certain I haven't attained  first path, and I don't think I'm anywhere near qualified. I also don't like the idea of corporate mindfulness workshops and all that stuff because I think the Dharma should be free of commercialization so it retains it's purest form. The only thing that really leaves for me is mindfulness and meditation research. Is there anyone who knows how I could get involved or get in touch with someone in the field? Unfortunately, my degree is in Mechanical Engineering, and I do not have a Psychology degree. Do you think that would prevent me from getting a job in research in the field?

If there's anything I missed about the meditation "industry" or any insights you think I missed, it would be much appreciated if you would share them.

Metta

RE: Meditation as a profession?
Answer
9/30/14 3:19 PM as a reply to Maher K.
Hi Maher,

What I did first was to ensure that I have enough time to do training a) with teacher/s and b) meditate on my own, (a lot). I think that there are many kinds of meditation teachers out there whose level of experience varies greatly. It is of course up to the person how will it be. Personally, I think that there is no way around the sitting cushion. My advice to you is to find a good teacher or few of them. Then do training with them (perhaps residential), you know, to get you going. Then stick with it for a good period of time. In case you don't wish to do residential training, then find a way to as little work as possible to get by to pay your bills and at the same time sit a lot. I don't know if you are familiar or interested in praying, or how it is done in the trad you are familiar with but what I did in my own case was to pray my a*s off for help from the masters of my lineage so that I could have perfect conditions for my training. I spent some time in a monastery but mostly did training on my own while being married, paying rent and so on. What happened was that I worked about 10-15 hours a week and got paid minimum wage for 40 hours. That was perfect. The work wasn't something I was educated to do but it worked. Then I had other similar jobs over the years. I got a lot of help in subtle form from the tantric masters of my lineage.

If there is a will, there is a way. Best of luck!

Baba

RE: Meditation as a profession?
Answer
9/30/14 3:34 PM as a reply to Maher K.
Yes, I think your only option is research if you don't want to be a teacher - most centers are run by volunteers. If you want to do research, you will probably need to go to graduate school. This isn't so bad, because I'm sure an engineering degree can get you in somewhere for MRI/modeling stuff. However, make sure you understand what a life of meditation research entails (you won't actually get to meditate more, academia is generally NOT more relaxed than engineering, and the publication mill is not the paragon of purity you might think).

Another somewhat dramatic option is to join a long-term meditation center. I cannot suggest any off the top of my head but other members probably have more experience with retreats. You can basically live there indefinitly but it's sort of an end-game decision, it's hard to turn back.

Obsession with meditation to the exclusion of everything else is exceedingly common in pre-path post-A&P, and Daniel Ingram specifically warns to avoid dramatic unrevokable decisions during this time.

My honest suggestion would be to make boatloads of money as an engineer and use this to fund extended retreat/downtime to study meditation. Once you have enough experience, it may become more clear what you want to do, and it will be easier to start a career if you already have developed ties with the meditation community.

If the morality thing is really bothering you, consider that the most efficient way to help others in the world is to donate as much as possible to effective charities, rather than actually volunteering yourself.
See for example http://www.givewell.org/
If you disagree with their criteria, then you can donate to meditation research, I guarentee it will be more valuable to progress than working in it yourself (not to discount your abilities).

RE: Meditation as a profession?
Answer
9/30/14 5:26 PM as a reply to Maher K.
Hey there!

Check out the Center for Mindful Learning's residential program. I'm there now and it might be exactly what you're looking for. emoticon

www.centerformindfullearning.org is the website, and the residential information lives on www.cedartraining.org. Here's a direct link to information about the residential program:


http://www.cedartraining.org/train/residentialtraining/

Best,
Daniel

RE: Meditation as a profession?
Answer
9/30/14 9:01 PM as a reply to Maher K.
I've looked into this as well, for the same reason as you-- it's what I love, and I can't stand the thought of spending 40 hours a week as a corporate slave when that time could be spent meditating. Here are my thoughts...

Meditation for a living, that's probably not going to fly in the typical "work to pay bills" routine that most Westerners follow. Who is going to hire you to sit in a room meditate? Many teachers are volunteers, or otherwise live off dana, generosity of others. However, there are other ways of living in the world outside of the 9-5 grind. If your housing and food is provided, you really don't need to work in a traditional sense. Whether this means doing extended work retreats at meditation centers, or buying a patch of desert land and trying to live in a self-sustaining off the grid manner, is up to you.

When you think about it, the driving force behind having a job is all the meaningless bills we have to pay. I know a guy who makes about $600 a year and that's all he needs; he has his own house on a patch of land out in the boonies somewhere. He grows most of his own food, hauls water from a lake, generates his own electricity, and so on. You could certainly live like that.

Here's an option-- write a book about meditation. If it's good, and a high quality publisher picks it up, you may be able to live off the income of that alone.

If you want to score some real money, train in concentration and develop siddhis, then start picking up followers and become a guru. From a morality perspective, this is a terrible idea, but people with no spiritual abilities or insight at all have done this successfully, as sad as that is.

For myself, I don't think pursuing meditation is a career option, as much as I'd like it to be. I have four kids and they need to be fed once in a while.