The Buddhist group wasn't nearly as scary as I thought they might be. Their leader was - there's no other word for it - ditzy, and talked well past the limit of the audience's attention span, but no attempts were made to brainwash the participants (unless they've just purged all memory of it from my mind...)
The meditation technique was extremely simple, just a slight elaboration on "breathe slowly and pretend stuff doesn't exist". Currently I'm trying to work weightlifting into my daily schedule, but, once I've made space for that, I'll definitely start trying to fit a little meditation in.
The tea-and-biscuits session afterwards was interesting. Having done my background reading, I was sensitised enough to pick up on a few slightly worrying concepts, but nothing worse than the average Christian group spouts on a regular basis. My concerns were comfortably defused by the comparative openness of the person I was chatting to (the group leader/teacher). By contrast with my last attempt to study meditation, she didn't try to conceal the religious beliefs colouring her thoughts.
I don't find the Buddhist cosmology any more realistic than those of other religions, but I don't find this particular tradition any more scary than most of the other religions out there. As such, I'll keep going to the meditation group for a bit longer.
Incidentally, I had one of those perfect Kodak moments today. During lunch with my friendly neighbourhood evangelists, one made a comment about the importance of scripture. That gave me the ideal opening to reach into my bag and pull out the Koran, the Bhagavadgita and a collection of Buddhist scripture (which I happened to have on me - no really!), with a comment along the lines of "which scripture did you have in mind?".
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