Meditation is a spiritual practice that is increasingly touted as a panacea for most psycho-spiritual ills. Amongst other things it is said to change brain rhythms, enhance the mental faculties, connect us to the higher mind and stabilize our emotions.
However, there are others who question this assertion and who who suggest that meditation does not offer these wide-ranging benefits to everyone.
In his book, Make Me One with Everything, Lama Surya Das—an American-born lamas in the Tibetan Dzogchen tradition—makes the following challenging statement:
Over the years, I have observed that closed-eye solitary meditation might not be best for everyone.
In fact, in some cases closed-eye introspective meditation might even be contraindicated, such as for extreme introverts or those suffering from paranoia or other pathological symptoms where solitude and separation could cause more harm than benefit.
In making this statement the author is not asking us to dismiss meditation totally but instead to develop a new awareness of its merits through a process called ‘Inter-Meditation’ and which he describes as
…meditating with “other”—an intentional connection in order to realize non-duality.
For those of us who witness the great disconnectedness that we often see in others who have practised meditation for several years this statement will be greeted enthusiastically!
Whilst Make Me One with Everything pursues the concepts of inter-meditation it is not a dry treatise on yet another rather dull spiritual practice.
Instead the book is part practical instruction and part personal commentary on the life, personal experiences and opinions of the author.
The various chapters of Lama Surya Das’s book evolve through a wide range of subjects—not just the practice of meditation or Eastern spirituality.
Calling upon Buddhist doctrines where they are needed in order to support his more scientific arguments the book weaves its way through a multitude of principles formed around concepts such as co-spirituality, inter-meditating with guides, self-mirroring, emotions of self-fixation and inter-meditation games.
From an examination of the condition of self-acceptance and forgiveness through to Tantra, adversity, the challenges of mortality, the Higher Self and our connectedness to nature the book covers a great deal of spiritual and psychological ground.
Whilst it focuses upon those centuries-old, core Buddhist doctrines of suffering and enlightenment it also reaches forward and extends these core Eastern teachings to encompass several modern scientific discoveries as well as deeper explorations into contemporary Western spiritual themes.
In summing up his research into inter-meditation techniques the author states that through its practice:
Everything assumes its rightful place, proportion, size and significance in the cosmic mandala, the great hologram of adventurous being.
For the author and the reader alike, the days of isolationist spiritual practice is over!
We are living through a time when most religious and spiritual doctrines are being upended and dusted down.
In his book Lama Surya Das is following this same challenging approach.
Whilst inter-meditation, as the author so rightly points out, is not without precedence in the Buddhist tradition, it is largely unknown as well as being a concept that many adherents of western spiritual beliefs will find to have common ground.
Through its radical approach to the subject of meditation and inner-contemplation I found this book was refreshing, exciting and beautifully created in every way.
The narrative is engaging and this sense of connection to the reader merges well with the practical advice and exercises that the author encourages his readers to engage with.
Make Me One with Everything is a book that whilst it has a serious central idea to translate to a new audience it does so in more of a story-telling than purely conceptualised way.
Thus, the personal anecdotes and recollections of the authors own spiritual journey makes encourages the reader to understand the making of the man as well as the formulation of his ideas.
It has been a very long time since I enjoyed reading a book on meditation and Eastern Buddhist practice as much as I did this one!
At last, a book that is not afraid to offer radical new ideas, break new ground and challenge the spiritual status quo.