So, welcome to the second talk on a series of talks on the topic of meaning. Meaning, meaning making and relationship to meditation. And one of the areas that we. So first I want to say is introduction that there's a cliche that everyone is a philosopher, but they don't know it. Many people don't know it. And what that means, I think, is that everyone has a set of interpretations meaning, understanding of what it means to be alive, what's important, what this life is about, that they operate from, though sometimes it's not reflective, some time reflect they don't haven't thought about it, haven't realized they're doing this. And part of a Path of Mindfulness is both to be reflective about this, to be clear and conscious, but also to discover, what are some of the underlying assumptions, belief systems, interpretations that we are basing our life on. And as we sit quietly in meditation, it's possible to see these operate. And then also to question them, some of them aren't really that helpful or healthy for us. And some of them are and be able to distinguish between which is useful and not which seem accurate or not, is part of the wonderful power of meditation, of mindfulness. So one area that we can connect one area of meaning making connection to meditation is our understanding of what it means to be a self and what it means to have other people in relationship to a self, that there's all a lot of philosophy, a lot of ideas that come along with our notions of who we are, and who others are and what that connection is. I think a wonderful story around this was some years ago, there was someone who did a study of different meditation centers, I think they're all in the United States. But some of them were primarily the principal participants, the meditators were primarily born and raised in United States. I called acculturated in the United Kingdom, then his local United States, Ian's culture, and some were, were acculturated in an Asian culture that had a much stronger collectivist culture, much stronger sense of communal sense of identity and who they are. Whereas the United States, many people who grew up in this culture have a much stronger sense of individuality and the individual. So researchers studied these two different meditation centers, and asked the participants, how was the retreat? You? Did they there, they both did, you know, set week long retreats or something, what were how was the retreat? And, and, and what did you gain or what was the benefits from the retreat. And, in both groups love the retreat, there was fantastic it was life changing, so that they had in common, but when they discussed, what they benefited from them, in what way it was so great. In one way or the other, the people who are been raised in this local culture in the United States, they emphasize that they discovered who they are, they just had some kind of sense of real independence and freedom. And all the reference points were very individualistic. And, and those people who came from the Asian culture, they said, Oh, I realized how much gratitude I have, for my society, my family, how deeply connected we are, and, and I've, you know, I've appreciated so much more, all the benefits I've received from, you know, my society, my family, my everyone and, and that sense of connection and gratitude and being part of something was, you know, so powerful for me.
And so, in many ways, maybe they're having similar you could they say similar experience of settling, getting concentrated, becoming still letting go of hindrances. But the meaning or the value that they took out of the experience, what they selected out of their experiences, this is what is important. It was so very different one was very individualistic one was more about how they are in the collective. And so this speaks to how often that's invisible, that we make the selection just seems like this is natural. Of course, this is like, Isn't this what it's all about, or, because the view we have of what's important, is not just taken for granted, it's built into the fabric of the universe itself is important than discovering yourself. Some similar thing happened to me many years ago, where I was on a panel, and with the Christian minister, and I was kind of like the Buddhist teacher, Minister. And, and they're also the person that I was, depend on, the person I was with was Asian, Asian American. And I was, you know, came, you know, represented people from United States, I guess. or Europe, we're kind of individualist Norway, where I'm from, it's very individualistic, and maybe even more so sometimes in the way we are in the United States. And, and we were asked, you know, what, when you what brought you into Buddhism, what would you are into your religion, she was Christian. And, and I, for me, I was kind of happily a matter of factly, as if there was most natural thing in the world back then. was talking about how, you know, finding myself or finding this inner freedom and, and she talked about how her Christian faith, how much it put her into a community of fellow fellow people in relationship to society and people, that was what was so meaningful for found a sense of belonging at home. And there, again, we see this, you know, people enter into a religion have very different orientation, but what they're looking for and what they want. So we also become with a lot of ideas, not just simply like that, but what it means to be an individual, what it means to be yourself what's important. And so when we sit down to meditate, it's part of what our motivation can be is about that self. It could be that we're, you know, we're looking for how to be a better, you know, get a career advancements. And so we've been told that if we're too anxious, and so you need to meditate to get calmer and quieter, because that's how you're going to, you know, be more respected at work. And so, so it's all about me, attaining something getting something, it could be that it could be, as you said, other person has been told that, you know, you really don't fit into the community here very well. And you might try meditating, because then you'll relax and start feeling more connected to the people around you. And so the meditation can have different function for different people, depending on what seems important for them. And, and then, so then also, the locus of, of what's valued the most around the self, is the self as an autonomous, independent person, what's most important, and we have to realize that and, and find it, or is a self as someone embedded in a system of relationships with other people, and somehow finding ourselves kind of connected to that embedment and embedded nation states nature of society or social connections, that meditation is going to help us to really feel connected to that and, and feel much more part of it in a deeper and deeper way. The, I've seen, you know, my early years, when I was first coming to Buddhism in was kind of peer with a lot of new people coming to Buddhism, how many piece on people were really coming to find themselves. And, and what they found was, instead of finding themselves that way, or maybe they did, because they found themselves, then at some point, they found themselves back into the deeper connection to their religion they grew up with. And so they will go back into a church or a synagogue or something, and, and, in a way that they then participated more in the collective life of it. Other people I've seen, it goes into Buddhism, and, and, and it also finds a sense of community there. And that's what's kind of more important than the meditation. Because that's what they're culturally or personally, their philosophy what they think is important. And some people
I've, you know, just for some, whatever reason, find that their engagement in Buddhism is always very personal, and they're happy to go off and be hermits and long periods of meditation without much can Action to two others, is one better or worse than the other? I'd rather not think that way. They're all ways of organizing, meaning purpose in this world of ours, and maybe they all have a place, they all have a role. There's a time and season for all things. And there's, and there's a place in society for maybe all the different ways that we can construct our sense of self or a sense of meaning or sense of being connected to others. And, and, and this is an adventure, it's kind of like a discovery. It's kind of like the, as I said, in the meditation, kind of like the powers of 10, that meditation takes you into some deep, deep place quiet, still letting go place. And then how do we interpret that around sense of how we understand the self and what's important around the self and what the self is in relationship to needs and motivations and purposes and our place in this world, in that the place, or what's that connection from that deep place of freedom, as we come back to powers of 10 back into the world back into society. And not a few people have found themselves transformed, so that their relationship and their understanding of what it means to be in relationship to other people is radically changed. A simple way of understanding would be that many people are codependent very deep sense of neediness and need and, and really measuring their success and their well being in relationship to other people and comparing themselves to other people. And to really delve deep into this kind of very powers of 10 to go within going within within and letting go of the social world for a while, can be transformative, so that when we come back into the social world, that the sense of neediness is not there anymore, this sense of comparing ourselves and measuring yourself to other people. And then the social world can have very different meaning than it had before. How much meaning it has, how important it is, depends in part, by the meaning making understandings that we have about our place in the world and who we are and who we are in relationship to other people. And we shouldn't assume that two meditators shared the same understanding of in that range or in that of what's most important, where they most center their life. And I said more in community or more as a in the individual. And what other kinds of secondary understandings come from that. So without saying any of us are right and wrong, I think it's very important. What I'd like to say is that it's important to become reflective about to think deeply about to realize what we're operating under, what are the assumptions, what are the beliefs we have around self around others, and to dismiss this whole investigation of self because Buddhism says there's no self kind of we're not to focus on self is this easy that we then almost myths are not noticed that we actually have, almost subconsciously, unconsciously, deeply embedded notions and operating principles around what it means to be yourself and what's important, and what kind of selective process attention is used for to pick out and I'd recognize and know in this world, what's important. So I offer this with the hope that you will maybe spend some time today, they'll be talking with friends and others about you kind of your you know, your your own central focus on understanding of what it means to be a self individual. And the what that mean, what, what, what beliefs and ideas come along with your sense of personhood?
And what is it to be in person in society? And what are the beliefs and ideas and understandings that come along with? How you are embedded in society? Are you embedded Are you REALLY removed? What's the connection there? And, and I hope that if you reflect deeply on these things, and think about them, that when you come to do your meditation, some of those things can be put, can be put down could be put to rest temporarily, and they won't be operating and churning away in some maybe quiet deep way and allow something some power of 10 to open up for you. Whether it's power of 10 deeper and deeper in or power 10 further and Are out that's for you to discover so thank you