The Mindfulness Blog

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A Riddle

Riddles have engaged mankind since before the time of the Greeks and are a wonderful way of getting us to think about things we don't otherwise often consider. Here's a riddle to which you'll never likely guess the response, even though you know the answer: What institutions do most every community in the world establish and promote, even though they serve no obvious secular community purpose?

The answer: Houses of worship, and libraries. Beyond the fact that they both exist, do they share anything in common? Not surprisingly, they do-- both embrace the qualities of quiet, reflection and solitude. Just like mindfulness and meditation, which -- like houses of worship and libraries-- are freely available, to all of us.

So, here's a related question: Why are mindfulness and meditation met with skepticism by so many, while houses of worship and libraries are considered to be pillars of society in most every culture? Why is it deemed important to spend time in silence and stillness with oneself in certain situations, but not in others? That's another riddle I don't understand.

Respectfully, I'd suggest a fairly obvious explanation that really doesn't hold up, under examination: It's what we've been taught-- and what many of us have been taught, has been obviously influenced by Western culture. Which raises another concern that is no less obvious, but much less flattering: To use a colloquial phrase, it's about turf wars.

Religion and knowledge have long been coopted by powerful influencers, but the core messages they market and promote are messages that don't rationally relate to their causes. There is little (I'd suggest nothing) about either religion or knowledge that requires or reinforces the basic qualities of silence, stillness or solitude. Yes, those qualities have become associated with religion and knowledge, but they're not intuitively required or connected.

I don't suggest that anyone should unlearn what they've been taught. I do, however, suggest that we open our minds to the benefits that mindfulness and meditation can provide-- I do suggest that better understanding ourselves can be every bit as inspiring and beneficial as better understanding a god, or a fact about someone/something else, in the world.

Spring, in our world, is about renewal and rebirth-- maybe we can find some of both in our next moment-- in our next breath?


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