Thread: Does Meditation Inflate the Ego? and What is Consciousness?

  1. #1

    Does Meditation Inflate the Ego? and What is Consciousness?

    Soto Zen teacher Brad Warner talks for just over 5 minutes.




    Any comments in connection with what he said the video ? (not bypassing that and just posting about the title of the topic, please!)

    These are the two links he mentions:

    http://mentalfloss.com/article/54817...d-inflated-ego

    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com...?sf192035709=1


  2. #2
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    Well, I've listened to Brad's talk, and I've read the article on mentalfloss.com, reporting on the study. I've also followed up the study itself and read (speedily) the description of the methods used and the statistical justification, as reported in the journal Psychological Science.

    The study claims that, after yoga or meditation, people feel better about themselves than before. The study was conducted by inviting responses to questions after completion of a session. The control group was established by asking the same questions before the session began, or when there was no yoga or meditation session that day.

    So all participants, both subject and control, were regular users of yoga or meditation. The study concluded that people felt better about themselves after a session. The study tells us nothing about ego at all, nor does it compare users of yoga or mediation with non-users.

    Brad makes the point that we don't practice meditation in order to dispose of the ego. There's no need for a meditation master to have no personality of his own. What meditation provides is a way to see the effect of the ego and to choose our actions both consciously and mindfully.

    I think the study was a waste of time, and the results it claims are misleading, at best. Brad agrees with me.

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    The study used different definitions of ego. It was trying to say that some people who start yoga and meditation do so because they think it's part of a lifestyle they want to identify with. Like going to the gym, some people go for the prestige of being someone who goes to the gym rather than for the health benefits, or whatever. It illustrates how difficult it is to communicate these ideas without shared understanding of the different meanings they can have for different people.

    I spent the last week trying to stay cool on the beach at Brean in England, contemplating this strange thing we call consciousness, and what we mean by it. How can we lose consciousness after a blow to the head, or under anaesthetic, but then still be the same people, hopefully, after we return to consciousness? What is it we lose, and what carries on when we are unconscious?

    My next ponderings were around what it is about our brains that generates such consciousness. How many brain cells would I have to destroy before I was no longer conscious, or even before I could no longer be defined as having mental processes carrying on? What if I could build a brain How many brain cells would I have to add before it gained consciousness? Of course I didn't get any answers, but asking myself such questions was useful when looking at all the definitions I could find.

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    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Hi, Aloka.

    The result of the psychological study quoted in the article seems right to me both internally ( from my own personal perspective) and externally ( from what I have observed in the behavior of others). Not much more to say about that than such feelings are warranted in that yoga increases / maintains flexibility, which allows one to do more physically than they would otherwise as they get into their elder years. Loss of physical flexibility and strength is actually harmful to our quality of life as we age into decrepitude. I can tell you that from first hand experience. That is why I try to do as many chores as possible (yard work, etc.) so as not to lose muscle mass and stamina. Yoga provides the same kind of conditioning for our bodies.

    Meditation provides maintenance of the mind and control of the ego if one studies the teachings of The Buddha, especially that of "emptiness" and the nature of the samsaric cycle of birth, aging, disease, and death. Of course understanding of The Four Noble Truths is key, otherwise The King of Death (Mara) will quickly gain control of our egos and inflate them to our detriment.


    Sorry, but I skipped the video and just read the article. Maybe tomorrow. Did a lot of work today and need to take my nap.

    ...Ron

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