Come on let’s be honest, who hasn’t come to a meditation practice thinking that it was going to help them tap into some uber spiritual place capable of catapulting them into a permanent fifth dimension free from pain and suffering. I know it’s been my fantasy on quite a few occasions. That said, ultimately I and the millions of others with the same unrealistic dream come crashing back down to earth when we realize that alas, we are mere mortals with a history and more importantly, parents and a society who “taught” us how to meet the world.
Lewis Richmond pens this recent Huffington Post on meditation and spiritual bypassing. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, spiritual bypassing in simple terms means not taking responsibility for one’s actions. According to Richmond, who references John Welwood’s amazing work and directs the article toward those meditators in the later stages of life (although the post is applicable to practitioners of any age), meditation in combination with mind and soul seeking practices like psychotherapy allow a person connect to human needs, psychological issues, interpersonal difficulties, and developmental deficits.
What’s the point? Not missing the philosopher’s stone contained within our wounds. And to properly investigate them so that we maybe truly be free.
When we are young we have, as Welwood says, “unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.” If we actually use meditation to face those issues, to thoroughly investigate them, and do the hard work of step-by-step inner transformation, meditation indeed can prove fruitful throughout our life. But now that we are much older, we have (in addition to any old unresolved developmental tasks from our earlier life) a whole set of new developmental issues, those that come with an aging body and mind.
Once after a lecture someone asked my teacher Shunryu Suzuki, “Why do we meditate?”
He answered, “So you can enjoy your old age.”
Read more from Richmond on meditation, aging, and spiritual bypassing here.