Is secular meditation possible?

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Is secular meditation possible?

I've been thinking a lot recently about fixing my life, and meditation came across my mind, but it is so closely related with all of the spiritual aspects of Buddhism. Is it possible to find nirvana secularly? Not a Buddhist "deathless" nirvana, more like a Maslowian self-actualization nirvana.


I want to be more humble and mature and less focused on desires and people. Actually, I just want to be happy but know I will never be satiated with desires and people.


Any help? 

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Is it possible to find nirvana secularly?

No. There's no such thing.

I get what you mean by the Maslowian self-actualization idea. That is more along the lines of how you should be thinking about this.

Is secular meditation possible?

Absolutely. Are you able to direct your attention? Then you can meditate.

Meditation isn't a pill (even though it gets perscribed like it sometimes!), it's a practice. And with any practice, you need motivation to do it. The outcomes you are wishing for are quite admirable, but they are also quite advanced. The way to get there is not to be focused on the outcome itself, but to be primarily concerned with enjoying and being happy in journey there. The outcomes you want will be natural consequences of that.


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Nirvana is a loaded word,

Nirvana is a loaded word, but I have experienced a feeling I'd call the loss of ego. It was one of many gifts received from an erratic sleep schedule -- another was sleep paralysis, and yet another was hallucination. Meditation's physiological benefits can be enjoyed without religion, and even some concepts like "energy," I think can be utilized without taking them literally. As in the "energy" imagined in some visualization techniques -- think of it as a means of focusing and directing your attention, rather than some woo-woo force emanating from the earth or godhead.

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Buddhism can be

Buddhism can be secular.
Whether you find eastern religion/philosopher helpful or not depends on how you approach it. Concepts like 'nirvanna' and 'karma' shouldn't be taken as literal truths, but as loose observations of the human condition.
It's quite clear that how you treat people will have a large effect on how they treat you. In that sense, karma makes perfect sense.
With nirvanna, that comes from a recognition that a happy person and sad person are seeing the same world - all that is different is their perception of it.
Nirvanna is when your happiness is no longer dependent on circumstance so you are no longer dependent on the world. It also involves that freedom from the 'ego' that you were talking about.

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Quote: Is it possible to

Is it possible to find nirvana secularly? Not a Buddhist "deathless" nirvana, more like a Maslowian self-actualization nirvana.

Sam Harris made a pretty big deal about this in his speech at the conference.  Personally, I think his ideas were fairly reasonable, and he just found the worst possible way to say them to a bunch of dyed in the wool atheists.

As others have pointed out, there's nothing mystical about meditation.  There's also no guarantee that you'll find anything that will make you happy through meditation.  Daniel Dennett made a really good point when he noted that the vast majority of people who go into caves for three years to meditate don't say anything useful or interesting when they come back.

I'm a big fan of cognitive therapy.  I think you might want to give that a look.  It's not something you even need a therapist for if you're truly honest with yourself and aren't afraid to ask hard questions.  Just buy a textbook from a college bookstore and learn how to do it yourself.

Here's the basic overview:

* Humans develop "core ideas" that are more or less hard-wired into our brains when we are still quite young.

* These core ideas help us form shortcuts so that we don't have to reason through everything from the beginning.  They're like our own personal axioms -- things that are self-evidently true, and don't need to be evaluated further.

* The problem is that sometimes we form core ideas that are false.

* False core ideas lead to lots of false beliefs that we may not even consciously know we have.

* Identifying false core beliefs leads to identifying self destructive behavior patterns.

* Identifying self destructive behavior patterns leads to identifying "triggers" that cause us to engage in those patterns.

* Once we identify the triggers, we can begin to reprogram ourselves.  When a trigger happens, we consciously override it.  Over time, our new behavior patterns replace the original ones, so that we now have true core beliefs and healthy behavior patterns.

 In fact, I can't think of any reason why you couldn't meditate as a means to discovering false core beliefs.  Why not have the best of both worlds?  Anyway, check out cognitive therapy.  Nothing can guarantee happiness, but I've got a lot of personal and anecdotal evidence that it can work.


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Rational meditation



It is possible to do meditation in a rational secular way. But its not easy to find any guides to this, since most meditation guides and info is deeply rooted in some, often eastern, philosophy. And because of that, these guides almost always have a set goal. They expect you to want to be happy, reach nirvana or find your inner truth og goddes or stuff like that.


Meditation wont fix your life and, as mentioned somewhere in the comments, it's not a pill you can take. What meditation will do for you is make it easier to fix things in your life, by making you much more selfaware. I disagree with hambydammit in that we have false beliefs at all, but I agree that people get fixed in patterns. Through meditation you WILL discover the patterns and you will be able to rise above them and adjust them. Without meditation that is almost impossible.


in my view, meditation is just a way of optimizing your mind. Just like fitness optimizes your body.


Smiling morten