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Statues and Status - Can Anybody Meditate and Get Benefits - Lessons from Japan

I'm in Japan for work and I've spent the day visiting the Itsukushima Shrine on Mijajima Island in the Hiroshima prefecture. I came across a lovely workshop where they make statues of all sorts. There's dragons and warriors, intricate peices that are over 6 foot high. I particularly liked this statue. It may be Buddha or perhaps it's Amaterasu, the principal diety of the Japanese Shintu religion. Either way he looks pretty happy sitting there in a meditation posture.

I wrote a little article a while back on sitting for meditation which makes me glad it's OK to use cushions. I'd find it hard to sit like this statue for hours and I've been meditating for over 30 years! I've been chatting with Japanese people while I'm here and what's come up from time to time in conversation is "mindfulness meditation" and "zen meditation". There's a contrast between the old texts and modern teaching approaches. The ancient texts for zen sometimes gave the impression that it's such a hard task and takes absolute dedication and quite frankly puts off most of the people who would otherwise benefit massively from meditation. On the other hand one person described how they are learning "mindfulness" and getting great benefits because it's taught in a practical way.

I'm really glad to hear this because, while there is an element of recognising the "spiritual warrior" within, it's also worth recognising that there's massive benefits to be had from even modest amounts of meditation. It's also all about where you are and what you want. Mindfulness is a very useful starting point and while spiritual meditation has the potential to go much further, everyone starts from within the mind. I teach mindfulness within my classes, although I don't refer to it using that label. There's nothing new about "mindfulness". It's an approach to realising what's always been and the interconnected relationship between personality, identity, mind and stillness. Whatever you call it, it's great that people are waking up and finding out for themselves.

Spiritual "Status" and "States"

When you see a statue like this, it can be inspiring, and it can be intimidating. Some people may think, it looks impressive but I could never do that. Of course they can. The statues are meant to be impressive, to show status, to set an ideal we can aspire to. But the state of spirtual being, is not a limit that can be conveyed in a statue, it's something you discover within. So whether it's an esoteric book or a lovely carved statue, remember it's a way of trying to tell you that you have this awesome potential within you and that you can, with dedication and a sense of curiosity and even pleasure, discover it for yourself. It's all about YOU so look beyond anything that presents "status" and seek the "State" it alludes to.

Posted by Mark Zaretti at 16:32

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