Meditation is dangerous?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Emi
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Meditation is dangerous?

Post by Emi »

I've been attempting to research this more thoroughly, but people appear to be split right down the middle about it.

Recently, I discovered something called 'binaural' music - forgive my ignorance if you're all already aware of this, but I accidently stumbled across it on YouTube! :embarassed:

Anyway, after reading some comments on various videos, it seemed as though some (possibly) genuine people had 'gone places' whilst listening to the music and meditating, and seen themselves as other things. This immediately strikes me as not so much harmful, but more 'spooky' than anything - if it's true that when one changes their mind, they change their world, what if one were to begin confusing their 'mind-world' with their 'human-life'? The ensuing theoretical problem sounds like a mental structure found in movies!!

On http://www.buddhanet.net" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;, I found this:
To live, we need salt. But if you were to eat a kilogram of salt ;it would kill you. To live in the modern world you need a car but if you don’t follow the traffic rules or if you drive while you are drunk, a car becomes a dangerous machine. Meditation is like this, it is essential for our mental health and well-being but if you practise in stupid ways it could cause problems. - Ven. S. Dhammika
On top of all of this, my religious studies teacher (whilst not a Buddhist herself, but very knowledgeable about the religion) said that to practise meditation without a teacher can be very harmful. She didn't elaborate, despite my pushing of the subject. I am without a teacher, and have been for my entire practising time, as there are none around the area in which I live!

My point is, what about meditation can be harmful/dangerous, if any of it? And if it being harmful is the case, how does one 'abuse' meditation to the point of harming oneself?

Surely we can't find harm in the same place we seek to clarify?

Thanks to any replies, very much ready to be put in my place! :lol:
"When all you've got is nothing, there's a lot to go around."
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IanAnd
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by IanAnd »

It may only become harmful if you have a tendency to believe things that are untrue and thus become deluded by them. It isn't meditation per se that is possibly "dangerous," but rather the "dangerous" reaction that some untrained people have as a result of what they "perceive" (delusion) about phenomena that they observe.

Meditation, in and of itself, is harmless. It is meant to help add clarity of vision to the mind if practiced correctly.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV
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jcsuperstar
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by jcsuperstar »

the danger is thinking youve attained states you really havent, or attaching further to a belief in self. i guess some people who probably already have some sort of mental issue could worsen it, become deranged, i dont know. but with all the meditation books out there one would have to assume that the tradition, as it stands, wouldnt really be too concerned with this.

and on the issue of spirit journeys or other experiences where one talks to ascended masters or gods whatever, just because you run into something "out there" doesnt mean anything they have to say is worth listening to or should be believed. your "spirit guide" could be a dream, imagination, hallucination or maybe some inter dimensional jerk trying to screw with your head... Caveat emptor and remember, dont believe everything you think.
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Guy
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by Guy »

Hi Emi,

Before I became a Buddhist I had tried other meditation methods, one of which was a New Age type of meditation where you supposedly contact your "higher self". This "higher self" told me to "kill myself" which frightened me, at which point I ended the meditation. After a few minutes of reflecting on what had just happened I decided that whatever it was that told me to "kill myself" was either a creation of my own mind or some type of "inter-dimensional jerk" :rofl: and so I didn't take it to heart.

To re-emphasise what jcsuperstar has said - If these type of things happen to you in meditation don't worry, you don't have to believe it, it is only dangerous if you believe in it.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

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Emi
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by Emi »

Thank you so much for your replies

I've never personally had one of these experiences. Now I understand that the potential 'danger' is not a physical one, but one which can cause mental harm if everything is believed, and self becomes more important.

:namaste: friends, this forum is fantastic.
"When all you've got is nothing, there's a lot to go around."
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catmoon
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by catmoon »

Thought I'd throw in, though it has been said (sort of) already. It's pretty common for people to have a powerful meditation experience and come out wondering if they are now a buddha. If you have sufficient skepticism in your character, this idea will fall apart, but if not, you get what I would describe as a "mad internet Buddha".
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Emi
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by Emi »

catmoon wrote:Thought I'd throw in, though it has been said (sort of) already. It's pretty common for people to have a powerful meditation experience and come out wondering if they are now a buddha. If you have sufficient skepticism in your character, this idea will fall apart, but if not, you get what I would describe as a "mad internet Buddha".

:lol: Have you ever met one? :rofl:
"When all you've got is nothing, there's a lot to go around."
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poto
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by poto »

Emi wrote:
catmoon wrote:Thought I'd throw in, though it has been said (sort of) already. It's pretty common for people to have a powerful meditation experience and come out wondering if they are now a buddha. If you have sufficient skepticism in your character, this idea will fall apart, but if not, you get what I would describe as a "mad internet Buddha".

:lol: Have you ever met one? :rofl:
Yeah, if you frequent public forums long enough you're bound to run into a few.

Some of the "mad internet Buddhas" even go so far as claiming to self-ordain and try to lure people to false schools of Buddhism like this guy:
http://www.greatwesternvehicle.org/Self-Ordination.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis
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Cittasanto
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by Cittasanto »

in all fareness anyone who has been practicing long enough will have these experiances, I myself had one which lasted about 6 weeks, and some which lasted only a few moments, or a day or so, the trick is to keep looking.
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
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mikenz66
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by mikenz66 »

poto wrote:
Emi wrote:
catmoon wrote: :lol: Have you ever met one? :rofl:
Yeah, if you frequent public forums long enough you're bound to run into a few.
Yes, these sorts of characters have popped up from time to time on E-Sangha and Dhammawheel...

This is why a teacher that you trust is really essential at some points, especially when you think you are enlightened!

Clearly, if the Eightfold Path is as powerful as advertised, it has the capacity to radically shift the mind, especially the sense of self. This can be rather disconcerting for many people.

Fortunately (?), for most people living normal lives it's difficult to have such really deep meditative experiences without doing a few retreats, where you are likely to get some instruction. So I would not be too concerned about the possible problems if you are doing daily meditation fitted around normal activities and you are developing it as an eight-fold path, with the sila and wisdom aspects, not just a one-fold mediation path.

Metta
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tiltbillings
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by tiltbillings »

Emi wrote:I've been attempting to research this more thoroughly
Jack Kornfeild's A PATH WITH HEART might be interest to you. It is discusses from a very practical, experienced place such issues.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723
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Ben
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by Ben »

Hi Mike
A'hem....
mikenz66 wrote:not just a one-fold mediation path.
Ah yes, the noble single-fold path for counsellors, social workers and family lawyers!
I'm only joking! From time to time, we all need a dose of mediation!
metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
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but great rivers flow silently.
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mikenz66
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi Ben,

Yes, if only the counsellors had an Eight-Fold Mediation Path. No more disagreements... :tongue:

Mike
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Ben
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by Ben »

Hi Mike
Speaking of counsellors & psychologists - my wife is off tomorrow for the Mind & its Potential conference in Sydney with the Dalai Lama. I wouldn't mind going along myself! My wife's already embraced 'Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy'. So who knows what would happen if more psychologists, social workers and lawyers advocated for and practiced the Eightfold Path.
metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: [email protected]..
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cooran
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Re: Meditation is dangerous?

Post by cooran »

Hey! just leave us Social Workers alone you blokes ....

In spite of hard working Social Workers, Psychologists and Lawyers ... Dukkha IS!

metta
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