Thursday 29 November 2012

Recently Asked Questions 01

[Question:] Learn Pali or meditate?

The Thai word for "protein" is โปรตีน. [Tipco]
[Answer:] They're not mutually-exclusive.

Your question is something like asking, "Should I read the ingredients, or just eat this thing?"  The two options are only mutually-exclusive if you assume that the ingredients are so bad that you wouldn't want to eat the thing once you know what it is made of.

Anyone would advise you to read the ingredients first, but the religious mentality seems to tend the other way: many people seem to embrace the thrill of biting in deeply without knowing what they're biting into (they want hallowed ignorance, to be blunt).

If you're looking for that kind of mystical experience (i.e., hallowed ignorance) you'd be well advised to convert to almost any religion imaginable other than Buddhism.  The people who don't know Pali also don't know what they're buying: many of them are (in effect) "ripped off" by meditation salesmen, and the rip-off can continue for decades.

As a useful warning, I'd advise you to read the one example I've illustrated of the mistranslation (and misunderstanding) of "breathing meditation", and also to take a look at some of the writing of disillusioned former followers of "Transcendental Meditation":

It seems to have taken 30 years for "Transcendental Meditation" to produce well-informed critiques from insiders of this kind.  I suppose the clock is ticking for various Theravāda meditation groups to do the same.

[To see my answers to a number of recently-asked questions (sent in by readers), go to; you can also click on the blue bar at the top of the question-and-answer box in any of the articles to access the same list of answers.]