(Ed Ford (930101:1305) ) --
Coming to one's senses is a rather interesting phrase. If by
meditation you mean attempting to establish some kind of contact or
dialoque or closer relationship with what AA people call a higher
power, I'll agree.
I think that putting limits on what the outcome of the process
will be is a mistake. The effect is apparently much the same,
whatever terms people use to explain to describe their
perceptions to others (and to themselves, if they wish). It is
certainly convenient to have a socially sanctioned conceptual
framework into which to fit out-of-category experiences. That
doesn't make the framework or interpretations in it right.
The distinction between religious experience and religious
institutions is fundamental. Ideally, the latter support
the former. But given the former, you don't need any of the latter.
I would say that a function of the institution is to preserve, hand
down, teach, and foster meditation (or prayer). Without the
institution, meditation will no longer have teachers and a
tradition on which to rely.
Given the religious experience (not as a transient "high" but as
a settled attainment) you no longer need the institution that was
intended to enable you to achieve that. But you may choose to
work through institutional forms to benefit others--the familiar
My point was only (and I know you know this, Ed) that Rick's
fulminations against religion are against its institutional
aspects, which for him apparently have no connection with living
experiences of the sort that those institutions supposedly should
foster, but often in fact stifle. Given the experiences and the
association of them for whatever reason with the institutional
forms, one may be willing to put up with the institutional
baggage. Lacking such associations, the grounds for patience
seem to reduce to social conformity.
There are many forms of meditation. Prayer carried out in
certain ways is similar to meditation with a mantram. I was
referring to the simplest form described by the Buddha, attention
to sensations in the body in a systematic and focussed way. This
is not in itself the aim, it is a means. By this practice
extranea fall away. If what remains when all imaginings fed by
fear and longing fall away is the perception of oneself in dialog
with a higher being, then that is what is. I would not pre-judge
for or against that perception.