Awakening Among the Overachievers

The flying pigThe Tim Ferris podcast is fascinating because he interviews fascinating people – cutting edge thinkers, radical artists, start-up gurus, fitness freaks and other people breaking boundaries and changing our world – and there is one thing about these people that keeps coming up:

They meditate. Almost all of them.

This has not escaped Ferris, who comments on it frequently and pushes the idea that meditation can be a productivity tool, kind of like speed reading or amazing time management. Personally, I’m not so keen on mediation as a tool for business success, in fact, when I teach it to people this is the first myth I try to dispel. But I am excited to see so many influential people sitting down, shutting up, and tuning in to something deeper in themselves.

So if the soon-to-be one percent are meditating, what are they doing exactly? It seems pretty vague, and most of it seems to be in the vast basket of “mindfulness” practices (which could be almost anything). This means that while many of them are meditating, very few of them may be experiencing the deep transformations that come with insight. But a few of them probably are experiencing such transformation, and regardless of the type of meditation or what they are using it for, one thing is certain: there are now more meditators in positions of influence and high social status than ever before, and this really has my imagination going. Allow me to indulge in a bit of wishful thinking…

Imagine a future where meditation has its own Elon Musk or Bill Gates. Imagine foundations dedicated to supporting stream entry for people in “dharma deserts” (far from meditation centers), global insight initiatives, X prizes for the best technique to attain first jhana, research on what jhanas and nanas do to the brain, and genius grants for talented meditation teachers. Imagine what it would be like if the overachievers began to experience awakening. If they unyoked meditation from the worship of productivity and began seeing it as a good in and of itself that deserves time, resources, and public support. Imagine the way such a change would effect the lives of ordinary people. Imagine what it would be like if taking time off from work to meditate was no more unusual than going to a conference or getting specialized training in your field – and if it were considered just as important. Imagine if  meditation teachers were covered by your insurance company, just like dentists or psychologists.

This is just a fantasy, but such a world is possible. Probable? Not yet. But sometimes, in my more optimistic moments, and when I listen to people like Ferris speculate about why meditation is embedded in the routines of the most influential people, I begin to think that such a world is not just a happy thought, it could one day be a reality.

Posted on August 23, 2015, in Meditation, Mindfulness, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I also like to dream of a spiritual change powered by those who own the economic power.

    But then I can’t help thinking that since the nature of their motivation is mostly tainted by greed, their practice gets warped until it’s not a transformation tool anymore, merely a reinforcement one.

    I’ve been recently sent the following article which tells brilliantly why that concern might be justified

    Thanks for writing such honest and smart posts, I really enjoy reading your

  2. It would be idealistic but amazing to believe that we are all meditating for the collective good.

  3. Well, people like Goenka have shown what is possible. I don’t agree with his approach of McDonald’s like standardization of the programme and Assistant Teachers’ scripts, but I’m very grateful that I bumped into Vipassana through his organization. And then I read MCTB…

    I just stayed at a family friends’ house at Pune. The nice old lady told me a very interesting fact: Her daughter had done an MBA from Symbiosis Pune. It was a compulsory requirement before the programme started for all students to attend a 10 day Goenka course, which I found very interesting.

    I know exactly what you mean by “Dharma Deserts”. Not easy to find hardcore meditators in the middle east, for example.

    I don’t think your vision is a fantasy at all. You guys are doing a great job with the pragmatic Dharma movement. It is only a matter of time for traction to be gained among. In fact, It is a dream of mine to help establish such an organization in India.

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