EASTERN AND WESTERN PERSPECTIVES OF MEDITATIONWritten by Manoj Dash, BHMS,Ph.D.
General. The word ‘meditation' is by now fairly well known though it conveys different meanings to different people. A dictionary definition1 shows that word is derived from Latin (meditate-meditari), meaning ‘to survey, observe, contemplate'. In order to understand meditation, this paper presents Eastern and Western perspectives along with differences and common features. Western perspectives. Interest in meditation began in West with introduction of technique, Transcendental Meditation which is derived from principles in traditional yoga texts, but has been modified for contemporary practice2. Meditation was described based on physiological studies as a state of ‘alertful rest'3,4, and a strategy to control level of arousal5. Practitioners of meditation were also interested in possibility of meditation giving them special powers (siddhis), to control involuntary functions such as body temperature regulation6 or levitation7. No single technique has been described. According to one description8, there are two main forms. The more common form has been called concentrative, involving focusing on a single, unchanging stimulus. The less common form of meditation has been called ‘opening up', in which practitioner of meditation attempts to broaden awareness to include all forms of sensations. Many scientists believe that despite mystical and spiritual connotations, there is nothing unique about meditative state9, which is comparable to resting or relaxing. To understand Western perspective of meditation, it is important to understand historical background of meditation and contemplation in West. This is closely linked with Christian contemplative prayer which dates back to 4th century (approximately). At time of Reformation contemplative prayer declined or disappeared among Protestants, and went into long decline in Catholic countries. Under influence of rationalism, mystic direct experience of God became suspect. By 19th century contemplative prayer tradition had almost disappeared except among cloistered Catholic religious orders, and it was marginalized even there. Christian contemplative practice began to revive among Benedictines and other monastic orders. During mid-20th century interest in contemplative practices increased, with most popular writer on subject being Cistercian monk Thomas Merton10. Lectio divina, translated as sacred reading, was likely brought to Western Christian Church from Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in early fifth century. It was recommended for both lay persons and monastics in early Christian centuries. Lectio divina as it is traditionally taught, has four parts or elements:
The Folly of FreebiesWritten by Lisa Maliga
We have come to expect things to be given to us. From student looking for easy “A” to consumer searching for that free sample to businessperson wanting that 0 down startup cost to their first million.
Trouble is, nothing is ever really free. Nothing worthwhile that is.
Most students earn that high mark by studying hard.
That free sample consumer waits for turns out to be so tiny it wasn’t even worth time to jot down their address.
And that businessperson learns several other numbers usually precede that 0.
As someone who makes bath & body products, I don’t expect to give them away. It took me years of practice to learn how to formulate my products, what colors would enable my soaps to shimmer brightly yet not run or fade. Choosing which fragrances worked well, wouldn’t disappear after a few weeks, and didn’t change color of product was another factor to consider. Then I had to decide which molds to use, wrap soap, and choose a label. I enjoy making my unique products, yet it’s time consuming and costly – as is running any small business.
Yet, I open my email many a morning to find requests for free samples! This rudeness is indicative of Internet. How many people will walk into a small restaurant and ask for, say, a pancake, to see if they want to order a stack of pancakes? Would a person walk into a garden supply store and try to finagle a package of flower seeds? Unlikely. The anonymity of ’net does allow people to behave in ways that they wouldn’t in real life. They see a web site, not an actual storefront business. And because that website is a small, family-run enterprise, they attempt to devalue that establishment’s products by asking for freebies.