Sacrilege

The marketing of Buddhism and Buddhist mediation practices makes me both sad and uneasy. The latest one is a company promising to teach you have to get into jhāna in a day, and then also gives you the ability to pop into it at will.

And what’s jhāna, you might ask: it’s a highly energized series of meditation states that are absolutely central to the practice of traditional Theravāda and other ancient strands of Buddhism. The practice is largely not talked about for a few reasons. It’s highly individual and usually requires the help of a teacher. It’s also a serious offense for a monk or nun to claim a jhāna attainment before lay people, and even among lay people the details of actual practice are best left unsaid in most contexts.

I have no idea if the state which the company, with the cringe-inducing name of Jhourney, purports to send people to has any overlap with the meditation practice of traditional Buddhism. For the sake of conversation, let’s suppose it’s the same thing. It would still be missing the point.

The real value in learning traditional jhāna practice is the slow trial and error of this works, that doesn’t. It’s learning patience, building a community with other meditators, and learning in a sort of apprenticeship from a teacher. The slow pace is critical for learning how to then integrate mediation attainments into daily life intertwined with insights.

My guess is that this Jhourney” thing will be something like psychedelics. For some people they were the thing that first opened their eyes to possibilities beyond a materialistic worldview, but for perhaps most people LSD is just another form of entertainment.

For more, The Atlantic has a rather optimistic take on this whole thing.