When teaching theology at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio, in the late 60ies and early 70ies, I told students that if Jesus came to call us to anything, he came to call us to consciousness. The statement is true, but reflecting on that statement now, it is clear to me that I had no idea what I was talking about. What the statement meant to me then had more to do with the objectof consciousness. For example, behavior, like that found in the life of Jesus, which is loving, compassionate, just. Those behaviors are good and desirable but now I realize those behaviors primarily arose from ideas and will power. Consciousness, what Buddhists call "the observer" leads us to a fundamental experiential awareness that All Is One, that we are not separate from anything and certainly not from one another. I did not have the tools to grasp this and for that to change I began to do a Buddhist breathing practice. I began to read Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, and Ezra Bayda to gain some clarity about how the mind works and how we tell ourselves stories that we treat as if they were reality, which they are not. They are simply stories which we tell ourselves and out of which we create for ourselves mountains of suffering.
What is it really all about?
One thing that the various religious traditions share in common at a fundamental level is that "All Is One". There is no separation. We perceive that we are separate beings but
the reality is that we are one. That does not mean that our perception is wrong, only that perception is not the full reality. For example, we tap on a table top and we perceive that the surface is solid. We know from physics that the surface is not actually solid but is mostly space. Our perception is not wrong but it does not reveal the reality we know from physics.
Though it is not central to mainline Christianity, there are clear statements in the Gospels we do possess, that Jesus also experienced and taught that all is one. In John's Gospel, Jesus is reported to have said "...that all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you...that they may be [one] in us..." see John 17: 20-21. There exist other texts, outside the canonical gospels, which point in the same direction.
The Jesus Traditions
The title at the top of this essay suggests that there are more than one Jesus tradition. Mainline Christianity is an example of one Jesus tradition, but as many writers have stated, it is the winners who write the history. Here too, regarding Jesus, there are winners and losers and the "received story" comes from the winners beginning with the Roman Catholic Church.
Mainline Christianity, as found in our time, is based on this "received story." This is not a judgement, it is simply the way it is in view of the evidence which is now available. But there is another story, a different story. Indeed of the two stories, one was championed by the Roman Chruch and the other was not.
Above we mentioned the Gospel of John. This very gospel is highly resonant with some of the hundreds, yes hundreds, of other gospels which did not "make the cut."
These were vitually unknown for hundreds of years because they were eventually destroyed. In 1945, however, a library was discovered near Nag Hammadi, in Egypt. What had been lost was again found. What this discovery revealed is that there indeed exists another story which differs from the "received story." So there were originally two differing perspectives. The "received story" was understood to be literal. The other story was understood to be non-literal. The non-literal story was created over time by people who, in my view, engaged in practices that lead to knowledge, the Greek "gnosis," consciousness, "True-Self"-realization, enlightenment, mystical knowledge.
But before we say more about the other story, the non-literal one, it is important to mention mythology. Joseph Campbell defines: "A whole mythology is an organization of symbolic images and narratives, metaphorical of the possibilities of human experience and the fulfillment of a given culture at a given time."
It is critical to our purpose to avoid casting myth as "false," "untrue," or "a lie" simply because it does not manifest as physically, historically factual. Rather, the truth of myth reveals itself in a completely different arena, the arena of human symbolism, meaning, significance.
Now back to the non-literal version of the Jesus story. The basic bare-bones non-literal version actually predates the Jesus Story by hundreds of years. It probably began in Egypt and was a story about a Mystery god-man which reaches back into pre-history. The god-man's name in Egypt was Osiris, in Greece, Dionysus. This god-man was God made flesh, savior, "Son of God." His father is God and his mother a mortal virgin. He was born in a cave on December 25 before three shepherds. He offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rite of baptism. He turns water into wine at a marriage celebration. He rides into town on a donkey with people waving palm branches to honor him. He dies at Eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. After dying he decends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven. His followers await his return as the judge during the Last Days. His death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolize his body and blood. (The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Harmony Books, New York, 1999.Page 5. Henceforth referred to as JM.)
Of course, this is a familiar story to Christians. As stated above that same basic story appeared long before the advent of Christianity, having what Joseph Campbell would call "the same anatomy." Another example of "the same anatomy" would be Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Bernstein's West Side Story.
The Mystery Religions of the Mediterranean region repeated the basic story with adaptations to various regions or cultures. For example the names of the mystery god-man changed. We mentioned above his name in Egypt was Osiris; in Greece, Dionysus. But then in Asia Minor, Attis; in Syria, Adonis; in Italy, Bacchus; in Persia, Mithras.[JM p. 4] The Jesus story is a Jewish version of the basic story of the Mystery god-man.
In the Mystery Religions there was an exoteric or outer meaning, and an esoteric or inner meaning. The outer meaning is simply the story and its rituals as heard and practiced. The inner meaning is what that story and rituals actually point to. Great philosophers like Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras were actually initiators into the inner mysteries, inner meanings. The purpose of initiation was to bring initiates to consciousness, enlightenment, "True-Self"-realization. There is a sanskrit phrase, "Tat tvam asi," which might be translated as "Thou Art That." The point is fundamentally the same as the quote of Jesus above from the Gospel of John. "ALL IS ONE."
People of these Mystery Religions did not think that the tales were literally factual. The fruit was found in the inner meaning of the stories. So what about this story of the Mystery god-man? What did it mean?
The main point was to bring people to the awareness that although we think of God as a separate being, the reality is that God is not a separate being. So in the story, God becomes human, dies, often by crucifixion, and rises from the dead to invite us to realize that we too die and rise knowing that we are God. So the resurrection is about realization of our true nature. The God-man dying for the sins of humankind is a pointer to our experience of being flawed, sinful, unworthy, self-hating. The death of the God-man and his resurrection indicate that we are really Divine. Resurrection is a way to convey waking up, becoming conscious, "True-Self"-realization, enlightenment.
Crucifixion or death has to do with EGO, false-self. In the Jesus story, we die with Christ so that we can rise with Christ, so that we become the Christ. Paul talks about putting on the Mind of Christ, the Consciousness of Christ. Paul says that we are the body of Christ. In communion we receive the body of Christ so we can become the body of Christ. We become what we receive.
There are stories within the story: for example, the God-man rides into town on a donkey. The donkey is a symbol of the Ego. So the meaning of the Master, riding on the donkey, focuses on who is riding. Our day to day experience often shows that the donkey is riding rather than our being the Master and doing the riding. Another example is the reference to being born again through baptism with water. Interestingly, in the Mystery Religions three baptisms are mentioned, all for purification. The first mentioned was with water, the second with fire, and the third mentioned is breath or wind or air. We find these three baptisms also mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew and John. In Matthew, John the Baptizer says referring to Jesus, "He it is who will baptize with the Holy Spirit (Breath) and fire. He will clear the thrashing floor..." this clearing was done with a winnowing fan, creating wind. Matthew 3:11-12. Also John's Gospel records a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus "No one can enter into God's Kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit (Breath). Flesh begets flesh, Spirit begets spirit. Do not be surprised that I tell you you must be begotten from above. The wind blows where it will. You hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from, or where it goes. So it is with everyone begotten of the Spirit (Breath)." John 3:5-8.
This reference to baptism with water, breath and fire comes straight from the Pagan Mysteries. They speak of initiations to progressive stages of awareness in the practice of pre-Christian and Christian Gnostics. Water baptism initiated the person, cleansed the person. But there is more to the ancient mysteries. It is all about the stages of becoming more and more conscious. Four levels: 1 - people completely dead to spiritual things, identified with their body like unconscious matter; lowest level of human consciousness, [sarkics or hylics]. 2- those who identified with their personality, ego [psychics]. 3- those who identified with their Spirit.[pneumatics]. 4- those who realized that there is no separation, that all is one,[gnostics]. Gnostic Christians identified with Christ, Christ Consciousness, or Universal Consciousness. .[JM p. 127.]
The various baptisms then, brought those initiated to progessively deeper consciousness, "True-Self"-realization, enlightenment. There is no central authority detailing teaching and behavior. The outer story may be the same as for literalists, but there is much, much more. Adherents who were ready were called initiates. The guides were called initiators. In gnostic communities, women were treated as equals with men and held positions of influence.
Early Christian communities were composed of both literalists and gnostics. This posed a challenge which was addressed though not solved by Paul and teachers following him. (see I Cor. 1:10, and JM, p. 217)
"The Gnostics covered Asia and Egypt, established themselves in Rome and sometimes penetrated into the provinces of the West...Justin Martyr, a literalist, Marcion, an uncompromising Gnostic, and Valentinus, who tried to heal the Gnostic/Literalist division, were all important Christian teachers in Rome at exactly the same time. This is how diverse the Christian community was in the middle of the second century."
(JM p. 217)
Gnostics far outnumbered Literalists at this time.
"Paul is a Jew who had embraced the ubiquitous Greek culture of the times. He writes in Greek, his first language. He quotes only from the Greek version of the Old Testament. His ministry is to Pagan cities dominated by Greek culture. Of these, Antioch was a center for the Mysteries of Adonis, Ephesus was a center for the Mysteries of Attis, and Corinth was a center for the mysteries of Dionysus. Paul was a native of Tarsus in Asia Minor, which by his time had surpassed even Athens and Alexandria to become the major center of Pagan philosophy. It was in Tarsus that the Mysteries of Mithras had originated, so it would have been unthinkable that Paul would have been unaware of the remarkable similarities we have already explored between Christian doctrines and the teachings of Mithraism." (JM p. 162)
So the great challenge that faces us as Christians in our place and time is to go beyond the basic story. We are to become conscious of who we really are. That requires work on our part. We live in a culture which lives mostly in avoidance and denial. We are unaware of the dominance of ego both on the individual level and on the collective level. It is collective ego that sweeps us along with the crowd without asking where the crowd is headed. This "going beyond" is what Franciscan Father Richard Rohr's Wisdom School is about as well as other Wisdom Schools, e.g. Jean Houston. For Christians this means getting at the real meaning of Jesus, not staying stuck in the basic story and acting as thought there is nothing further. Richard's book, What the Mystics Know, tells of a further reality, the reality that in spite of appearances, WE ARE ALL ONE.
In light of this evidence it is not at all surprising that we find Paul often using words and phrases previously known and used in gnostic circles. Paul speaks of himself "ascending to the 3rd heaven" (II Cor: 12: 2) Gnostics and initiates of the Pagan Mysteries taught that there are seven heavens. (JM, p. 164. Theresa of Avila speaks of seven mansions.) Paul writes "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him." (I Cor 2:9) In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says: "I will give you what eye has not seen, and what ear has not heard, what has not been touched, and what has not arisen in the heart of man." (JM p. 164) Here are some gnostic terms which Paul uses: pneuma (spirit) gnosis (knowledge) doxa (glory) sophia (wisdom) teleioi (initiated) charismata (gifts) [from the Mystery term makarismos, refers to the blessed nature of one who has seen the mysteries.] Paul speaks of himself as the "Steward of the mysteries of God,"(I Cor 4:1) a term for a priest in the mysteries of Serapis. Paul writes, "Now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face."( I Cor 13:12). Plato said, "...at present all we see is the baffling reflection of reality." This is also a ritual formula of the Pagan Mysteries. In The Bacchae:"He gave these mysteries to me face to face." JM p. 163) Lucius Apuleius says of his initiation, "I penetrated into the very presence of the gods below and the gods above when I worshiped face to face." (JM, p. 163) Justin Martyr stated that: "The aim of Platonism is to see God face to face." (JM, p 163)
The Difficulties with Literalism
Literalists hold that the Jesus Story of the Gospels was an historical happening. From that flows the need for some agreement or uniformity. Responsibility for such basic agreement or uniformity is assumed by a central authority. This central authority determlnes the teaching, rituals, and moral behaviors. This requires faith and participation on the part of the faithful.
The implication of this set of "givens" is that the primary object of fatih is not God but the institutional authority. It is the authority that determines what is to be believed about God, the kind of God, the scriptures that are from God, what those scriptures mean and imply for faithful followers. Before the invention of the printing press, assurance of fairly unified teaching and practice was mostly not complicated. After the printing press, some of the faithful were forbidden to have or at least read the Bible. Then there was the Protestant Reformation which was mostly a reaction to Roman authority. Yet the Protestants kept substantialy the same canon of scriptures. So authority splintered from the previous central authority and formed other centers...and that beat goes on. Authority continued to be important with more or less rigidity depending on the group. But the danger of fundamentalism, whether scriptural or dogmatic continues. In some non-Roman churches, women assume positions formerly reserved exclusively for men, while others, along with the Roman Church, erroneously claim Pauline authority and ignore early Christian practice cited even in canonical scriptures.
Though Vatican II championed the primacy of individual conscience, the expectation remains that conscience will be formed according to the directives and teachings of the central authority. Pope Francis counsels more understanding and compassion on the part of bishops and clergy, but without changing long standing teachings. The collective unconscious of centuries keeps people bound by shame and guilt and the threat of punishment. This is spiritual abuse. This is not what the Jesus Story suggests. Indeed, Paul was not much for rules and regulations: In Colossians 2:20-22 he says, "If with Christ you have died to cosmic forces, why should you be bound by rules that say, 'Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!' as though you were still living a life bounded by this world? Such prescriptions deal with things that perish in their use. They are based on merely human precepts and doctrines. While these make a certain show of wisdom in their affected piety, humility, and bodily austerity, their chief effect is that they indulge men's pride [ego]." (see also Romans 14:1-5; Philippians 3:3) A great problem with literalism is the implication that the external story is enough. Of course there have been and are mystics who have gone beyond the outer story, the outer meaning of the Jesus Story, but often the mystics have been suspect of walking outside "safe" boundaries set by the authorities. (Mystics like John of the Cross wrote poetry which was suspect and so he needed to write treatises to prove that he was orthodox.) These very boundaries set by the authorities hold onto cultural mores and lead to oppression and abuse. Historically, the treatment of women is a blatant example. Theological reasons are advanced to keep the abuse in place. Ultimately literalism leads to separation, separating us from God and from each other. Dogmatism sets the stage for "this is right, that is wrong,we are right, they are wrong, we are the chosen, they are not, we are the privileged they are not." ...and the righteous killing, literal or otherwise follows! History abounds with examples of righteous violence wherever dogmatism reigns, whether in religions, nations, corporations, families. It is really about control, not about truth. (For information of "Christian" sponsored violence see Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to EighthCenturies by Ramsey MacMullen, 1997, Yale University Press, pp. 16-17) Another notorious example, the witch burnings, killing something in the neighborhood of 100,000 women.
This is not to say that clarity, certainty, order, even some rigidity, as in the military, is always and for everyone, wrong. We do know, for example, that people who live in chaos from addiction of various sorts discover a haven where there is a community of clarity about what's right, what's wrong, what is to be believed and what is not. Yet, this is a two-edged sword. The key is to avoid keeping people stuck, to encourage movement forward in personal responsibility and growth, both emotional and spiritual.
The danger for religious institutions is the temptation to keep things as they always were, self-perpetuating, keeping people stuck, actually blocking growth by placing suspicion on asking questions, on doubting the "true teaching." A living religious institution would be one which encourages doubt, encourages questioning, encourages searching for more, going beyond the literal story. A living religious institution provides spiritual companioning which keeps the faithful growing...yes, even "leaving the church." Fr. Richard Rohr said many years ago that if you find life somewhere, go there, whatever it is called. Clergy education/formation can keep both clergy and faithful stuck, hindered from growing in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. Developmental research has long revealed that when a quite humanly developed person joins a group with fundamentalist, rigid leanings, regression to a lower developmental level occurs.
Gnostics do not hold that the Jesus Story (of the hundreds of gospels) is an historical happening. The Jesus Story is mythical and the foundation of a process for adherents guided by masters, to come progressively to deeper and deeper awareness, consciousness, "True-Self"-realization, enlightenment.
This has immense implications for our journey on this plane of earth. The bottom line is that there is no separation, only the perception of separation. It means that all life is sacred, that all creation is sacred. It means that we will change our ways of violence and oppression toward each other and Earth. It means that the various "religious traditions" are all paths to Unity. In the Mystery Religions there was no need for bickering and blaming because, though there were competing schools, they were not concerned about orthodoxy. One could easily see that whatever the name of the Mystery god-man, it was fundamentally the same story. Even though Christians share the same outer literal story, many still can't love and accept each other because of personal and collective ego frames of reference which separate. Obviously the same is true with Muslims. Although Muhammad created the city of three faiths at Medina, we know that his honoring of Judaism and Christianity was quickly abandoned. So it all came down to "my/our way or the highway!" That is an approach which mystifies the masters of all traditions because they know that ALL IS ONE!
When all is said and done, it is very likely that we actually have the Jesus Story because of the Roman Catholic Church. It seems unlikely that the story would have survived through the handing down of Christian Gnositicsm, strong and vibrant as it was in the Mediterranean Region two thousand years ago. We just don't know. What we do know is that there is much more to the Jesus Story than the literal story whether that story is seen as historical or not. We know that initiators of Christian Gnosticism guided those who were ready into the deeper mysteries, deeper consciousness. We know that leaders in institutional Christianity provided intellectual knowledge of the Church's doctrine, practical knowledge of moral behavior, and how to participate in the Church's rituals. We know that participation in external ritual does not transform the hearts of large numbers of people. But then, what does? History attests to this. However, Jesus Energy is real and holds power to transform lives at the deepest level. This wondrous Energy is so profoundly, desperately needed in our time. Consciousness is rising...and it happens one person at a time. It is also deepened in the context of loving, supportive communities. Their number is also growing. So let us take up the challenge, using whatever means are available to us from whatever source. The ultimate Jesus Dream is of Unitive Consciousness, what the mystics of the ages have experienced, from whatever spiritual tradition.
So is the Jesus Story simply another story? No the Jesus Story is just one of the greatest stories ever told.
We need to embrace the truth that religion, any religion, needs spirituality. Spirituality does not need religion. The Jesus Story is an invitation for us to move intentionally using whatever spiritual practice delivers the goods, to the reallization of the secret of the Little Prince: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." The Little Prince by Antoine de-Saint Exupery, p.87.
There are many paths to the goal. We need to ask oursleves what practice helps me to be more conscious, reveals the illusions of ego entrapment, brings me to experiential awareness that we are all connected, opens the possibility of experiencing unitive consciousness, what the "ancients" called Gnosis?
Earlier, in the section on the difficulties of Literalism, we saw that there were various levels acknowledged by the Mystery Religions and Christian Gnostics: 1- people completely dead to spiritual things, identified with their body like unconsious matter, lowest level of human consciousness, called hylics or what Paul called sarkics; 2- those who identified with their personality, ego, called psychics; 3- those who identified with their spirit, called by Paul Pneumatics; 4- those who realized that there is no separation, that all is one, called gnostics. Sarkic Christians and psychic Christians need the law. Pneumatic Christians, according to Paul, are beyond the law, they know what is good and fruitful and what is destructive and what is not and do not need a law to tell them. Gnostic Christians live in the reality that all is one. The goal of spiritual practice is ultimately to live in the realization that All Is One while remaning fully in the body. Paul speaks of "out of body" experiences. Various spiritual practices speak of this too. Nothing wrong here but we can't stay there. We need to integrate the "knowing, experiencing" that All Is One in the body. This is ultimately what can change the world.
Various practices include following the breath, imaginative (Ignatian) meditation, Heart Rhythm Meditation, Buddhist meditation practices including walking meditation, Soul Collage, centering prayer, lectio divina, being in nature, "being fully present to" a beloved partner, "being fully present to" an animal, Mesmerized by the night sky, photography, gardening? Perhaps a combination of some of the above practices. The question we need to ask ourselves is, "what delivers the goods for me?" Whatever it is, do it every day. Pehaps you have had a "near death experience." If so, you may already experience gnosis. If needed choose whatever ongoing practice will deepen what happened in that experience. We need to search for growth in awareness. We may not reach unitive consciousness, we may glimpse it from time to time. All we need to do is to keep moving in that direction. Many people have had spiritual experiences at one time or another, maybe experiences of unitive consciousness, perhaps in nature, perhaps at a concert, perhaps at a church service. But it passes and we slip back into the same old, same old states of awareness and ego entrapment, forgetting that we are All One. Regular practice can protect us from slipping back so easily. Our wellbeing as a species and as a planet require our commitment to becoming more conscious. I have practiced Ignatian meditation, centering prayer, Buddhist meditation practices, chanting, Dances of Universal Peace, and now with the monthly-by-zoom help of a mentor, Heart Rhythm Meditation. I was in my head for so long that it was crucial for me to get into my body. It was the Buddhist practices that were most helpful for me. Then came Heart Rhythm Mediation. More that 30 years ago when I was giving talks on the history of healing in the church, I prayed that what was in my head would fall into my heart. Now I am in the right ballpark. It has been worth it, a day at a time, with patience toward myself in the process. I am immensely grateful. So be patient with yourselves, friends, be patient. Just take the next step with confidence.
Finally, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi:
Those who don't feel this Love
pulling them like a river,
Those who don't drink dawn like a cup of spring water
or take in sunset like supper,
Those who don't want to change, let them sleep.
This Love is beyond the study of theology, that old
trickery and hypocrisy.
If you want to improve you mind that way,
I've given up on my mind.
I've torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away.
If you're not completely naked,
wrap your beautiful robe of words around you
Some related materials:
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Awakening the Universal Heart by Serge Beddington-Behrens
Caves, Huts, and Monasteries by Mark S. Kasik
Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries by Ramsey MacMullen
Beyond Happines by Ezra Bayda...and other books by Ezra Bayda
Energize Your Heart by Puran and Susanna Bair
Merton's Palace Of Nowhere by Jim Finley
Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh...and other books by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn
The Global Heart Awakens by Anodea Judith
The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy
The Little Prince by Antoine de-Saint Exupery
The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault
The Wisdom Way of Knowing by Cynthia Bourgeault
Thou Art That by Joseph Campbell
What the Mystics Know by Richard Rohr
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron ...and other books by Pema Chodron
I Am by Tom Shadyack, Hollywood Producer
Communication with animals - google utube: Anna Breytenbach
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 19th, 2016: Wake Up
Picture of the lakeshore with the words: "Hear the waves. Think clear thoughts."
A calmer you. The Fidgety, tired, frustrated and bored person's guide to meditation.
If you're not already into meditation, theres something slightly comical about trying to do it. You have to think about thinking. Or, stop thinking about thinking. Or think about not thinking.
What you're mostly thinking is 'Why can't I meditate.'
Which happens to be the title of Nigel Wellings' new book (subtitle "How to Get Your Mindfulness Practice on Track.'
Wellings, a British psychoanalytic psychotherapist who has been interesed in meditation since he was a teenager 40 years ago, aims his book not at skeptics or raw beginners but at the many people who perceive the value of meditation, who have tried it, maybe taken a class, but can't keep it up, writes Nancy Szokan of the Washington Post
Or as a frustrated student named Tess put is: 'My mind still goes blah,blah,blah.'
There are more thant 300 pages of explanation, anecdotes, encouragement, examples and so on, but the best part might just be at the end of the book, where there's 'Quick-Fix Chart for the Struggling Meditator.'
Can't find time to meditate every day. Possible solution: Don't wait for the meditation mood to strike you -- do it routinely, like brushing your teeth, whether you feel like it or not.
Feeling Distracted. Rest your attention on your breath as you breathe in and out for five breaths. Let the breath be as relaxed as possible, so you can feel that it breathes itself in and out without you having to do anything to help. It will naturally slow and deepen, but this is its job, not yours. And stick to just five breaths --- resist doing more.
Falling Asleep. Possible solution: Keep your eyes open. Or try meditating while walking..
Boredom. Possible solution: Be mindful of the experience of boredom itself --- What is it like? (That's also a possible solution for being distracted, Wellings says --- the biggest problem for would-be meditators. A distraction you are mnndfully aware of...is not a distraction --- it is your object of mindfulness.
Disappointment, the feeling that meditation just isn't working for you. Possible solution: Cultivate loving kindness toward yourself. Be patient. Develop a sense of humor. You'll get there.
Time Magazine Feb. 13, 2013 "The Art of Being mindful" by Kate Pickert
This article is about a curriculum developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn
an MIT educated scientist.
Other articles on this website: On Spiritual Practice. On Practice and Justice
April 26, 2016 (Typo corrections and other slight changes May 5, 2020)