During this talk, the development of meditation as an evolutionary process was reviewed. The first images of a person in a meditative position dates from about 5,000 years ago. The initial motivation likely was to find a way to appease the forces of nature, typically a god, to promote good fortune. The Buddha radically transformed this conceptual process towards personal responsibility rather than appeasement through the emphasis on ethical guidelines for relief from the stresses of life. In the current era, scientific empiricism has replaced the gods–not necessarily in an atheistic way, but to place responsibility for salvation in the hands of individuals, and, by extension, the dynamics of cultural values. Meditation practices foster the ability to be responsive in ethical ways to modern consumer culture. This talk prompted discussion about the personal implications of committing to regular meditation practice.
Next week the discussion will explore what modern research reveals about how the brain operates and how regular meditation practice changes the structure of the brain in ways that support a more personally, socially and ecologically responsible world citizen.