Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds /Milk Tea Alliance

MBI: No Final Answers

This is the first of a new podcast I am producing called Meta Buddhist Inquiry. The podcast is actually a series of ‘guided meditations’ or contemplations on what I call ‘the Path of Inquiry.’  The Path of Inquiry is a simple but bold method of turning everything you think you know (or don’t know) about dharma from a statement into a question.

The first guided meditation is called “No Final Answer”, based on an article I wrote called ‘Meta Buddhist Inquiry‘.

The idea of this guided meditation came from my experience of the meditation app, Insight Timer. I’ve listened to many guided meditations on the app, and recordings in the music section. I have also submitted a couple of my own chant-music meditations. What I noticed—and what anyone could not help but notice—is that nearly all the meditations and musical pieces hosted on Insight Timer are designed to do one basic thing: calm and relax the listener. They are designed to bring about states of relaxation, bliss, self-love, relieve depression and anxiety, provide psychological support and encouragement. All good stuff.

But then I thought: this is just another digital bubble, another way to soothe and protect the practitioner from the stress of the modern world and existential anxiety. But is that really ‘waking up’? What if ‘waking up’ is actually an experience of anxiety and angst, like a sudden cold slap in the face from reality? Instead of being blissed out, what if ‘waking up’ were actually and experience of being disturbed by reality?

So I started to imagine what such a ‘waking up’ would sound and feel like as a meditation. I decided to do a series of guided meditations whose purpose was not to soothe the listener into a state of bliss, but to actually, though subtly, disturb the listener into a state of existential angst. “No Final Answer” is my first attempt.

2 comments on “MBI: No Final Answers

  1. don socha

    kudos– points you make point to why soto practioners face the wall and focus on not thinking at the bottom of thinking– and in states of hishiryo– thinking at the bottom of not thinking

  2. Shaun Bartone

    It’s also reminiscent of Stephen Batechelor’s Son technique, where the meditator asks “What is this?” over and over again. I think that’s a very limited form of inquiry, but the idea is to put the practitioner into an inquisitive state of mind.

    One question: what is hishriyo thinking? I’m not familiar with Zen.

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This entry was posted on 2018/01/28 by .


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