Can Meditating Cure Violence? Scofield Says No
Questioning His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s now-famous assertion that “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation,” scholar, yoga instructor, and activist Be Scofield offers historical evidence and personal experience testifying that, far from a panacea for interpersonal and institutional harmdoing, spiritual practice is ethically neutral.
We’re all part of larger systems, many of which are incredibly damaging to people and the planet. Along with air force bomber pilots, racists, pro-life extremists, corporate crooks, Japanese soldiers in WWII and (you fill in the blank), we can all experience what we sincerely believe to be spiritual transformation or awakening, yet remain oblivious to the dangers of our surrounding culture. In fact, “spirituality” is rather easily incorporated into any social system, including market capitalism, government, and militarism, as a regime of thought control.
Besides, Scofield points out, how can we presume to eliminate “violence” before we have come to a common understanding of what violence is?
Take these few examples [of what some would call “violent”]: spray painting over a sexist billboard, using [force] to defend against rape, eating meat, the prison industrial complex, throwing tear gas canisters back towards the police who fired them, the capitalist system, racial microagressions, stealing food to support oneself…etc. Many would argue that abortion is violent. Would this be eliminated with meditation? There are so many forms of violence and ways that we all participate in systems that are violent that it would be nearly impossible to reach a consensus on who’s criteria of violence gets to be used. How can one eliminate something if we can’t agree on what it is that is being eliminated?
What say ye, BPFers? Read the whole thing and tell us what you think!