The question is, are we waiting on Superman? And how do meditation benefits fit into this discussion at all? It’s my belief, there are times, when we all hope that a superhero will come winging in from out of the ether and save us from ourselves, all the while knowing, in our heart of hearts, it’s not going to happen. It’s this desire that has historically give rise to messianic thinking, which is not idealism but false hope.
How do we avoid this mind-trap and can meditation help us in that regard? My answer is, yes, and I would make two points about meditation and avoiding the messianic thinking trap, one mental and spiritual, the other physical and spiritual.
The first is self-realization, when someone ‘knows’ who they are they don’t look outside of themselves for answers. Second there’s a physical process that can take place in the brains of meditators called, “self-directed neuroplasticity,” a process that can lead to increased feelings of compassion, self-awareness, introspection, and reduced stress evolving as with changes in the brain structure. You can learn more about this process in my post, “Evolution of Consciousness a Benefit of Meditation?”
Carter Phipps, in the “EnlightenNext” blog, dive deep into the meaning and effects of the trap of messianic thinking. Here’s Carter….ﾠ
“…A few years ago, I was doing research on an article on messianic thinking, and I came across a fascinating historical tidbit from the nineteenth century about Anne Besant, who had been a women’s rights activist in London before joining the Theosophical Society and eventually becoming its president. Besant was an interesting character for many reasons, but she is perhaps best known for her efforts to find the young boy who was supposed to grow up to be the World Teacher of the Theosophical Society. That boy was Jiddu Krishnamurti, the great twentieth-century teacher who rejected his association with Theosophy along with any sort of messianic titles and became a powerful independent philosopher/teacher in his own right.
It’s a fascinating story in many respects, but what struck me at the time was the reason for Besant’s messianic turn. It seems that she was incredibly passionate about progressive causes at the time, and amidst difficult conditions of the poor, and the squalor and poverty of an industrializing London, she began to lose faith in the modernizing forces at work in the economics of the day. After a flirtation with Marxism she met Helen Blavatsky, founder of Theosophy, and became interested in those esoteric teachings.
I’m sure there were many reasons for Besant’s interest in Theosophy, not the least being her own longtime spiritual interests, but one reason struck me as important: she was losing faith in the capacity of progressive causes to make a difference in the rapidly industrializing homeland.ﾠ She had lost faith in politics and progressive movements to change the circumstances of the disadvantaged and so turned to inner dimensions, to spirituality, and, in particular, to a new faith in a coming “world teacher.” Her messianic turn, in other words, was driven by a desire to jump-start, or at least speed up, the processes of cultural evolution. Indeed, it was her waning faith in the possibilities of progressive change that led her to turn away from her activism and look for a heroic, history-changing event.
Indeed, I have noticed that it is often when we don’t have real conviction in the possibility of evolutionary change that we start reaching for revolutionary messianic movements. It may be the global promise of 2012, or the Harmonic Convergence, or some sort of “Earth Change” or massive one-time universal “shift” that will pave the way to the future, but it will definitely be something. In that respect, I see many Besants in our own time, individuals who have a deep desire for change, and a passion to see things truly improve on this delicate third rock from the sun. These are often the same people who have worked hard for noble causes that are slow to take root in our culture. They look out at a world of climate change, terrorism, corruption, overpopulation, and financial disaster, and where billion people live in poverty, and conclude that things are not getting better at all. Or if they are, they aren’t improving fast enough. ﾠAnd then they pray, hope, meditate—for some event; some change of consciousness; some immanent convergence, ﾠemergence, or resurgence of love, light, peace, and compassion to deliver us from the evil and ignorance that has a hold on our collective soul. In other words, they look for a messiah, or a messianic event, to change everything. Sure, they may not use that term, but semantics aside, that is what it is.ﾠ And often they invoke the term “evolution” to describe this change in consciousness.
Ironically, such thinking has nothing to do with evolution of consciousness and culture in the way that I understand it. In fact, I want to suggest something that may be controversial: It is not a faith in evolution that leads one to embrace the messianic meme but a lack of faith. It is this insufficient appreciation of the power of evolution at a cultural level and a failure to understand how cultural evolution works that leads us to start reaching for super-historical forces to emerge and save the day.
I don’t have time in this post to argue why cultural evolution is real and a completely legitimate kind of evolution. I’ll leave that for another day. But the point I want to make is that when we begin to appreciate the true dimensions of the vast evolutionary process that we are a part of, we begin to see the present and future differently. While cultural evolution is frustratingly obstinate, yes, and perhaps unresponsive to human timelines, things do change and develop. Huge shifts suddenly happen before our eyes. And even then, there are reactions and counter-reactions, pullbacks and lateral movements, and new problems arise even as old ones are solved. But evolution is real; it is happening, and the deeper our perception and understanding of that, the more powerful will be our response to the evolutionary challenges of our time—even if our best efforts fail to immediately bear the kind of fruit that matches our idealism. We should never underestimate the human spirit, even as it negotiates its way through the considerable horrors of human history. We can influence history, change history, impact history, but we can’t force-fit it to our version of utopia. Things move forward, and the efforts of individuals can have an impact, small and insignificant as they may seem in the moment. In our globalizing information age, I’d argue that the efforts of individuals can have more impact today than they ever could before. That is also part of evolution.
Remember that evolution in the way I’m speaking about it is not just about biology and DNA. Nor is it just about the development of socio-economic structures and political systems. It is also about the evolution of our interior consciousness, things like values and morals, perspectives and worldviews. Evolution at that level is slow but also powerful and consequential. Even a little bit of genuine movement can have a huge impact on culture. We should never underestimate the powerful leverage of evolution at the level of interior consciousness can have on the future of our society. But there are no inevitabilities or guarantees, and we can’t just snap our fingers and immediately change the momentum of thousands of years.
And while things can seem to be changing slowly, sometimes we don’t actually appreciate just how much is moving and shifting under the surface. For example, it seems like the problem of race in America is frustratingly slow to improve, and there is no shortage of voices telling you “nothing has changed”—right up until the day we elect a black president.
I’m sure it seemed like London’s poverty was impossible to impact in the late nineteenth century, and yet look at it today—not perfect by any means, but a heck of a lot different than a hundred years ago. That’s a massive movement forward…”
“…There is nothing wrong with great visions of possibility. We need them, as long as they’re not crazy and unrealistic. We need them in order to inspire us and give us direction and focus. But what truly inspires and invigorates is to participate in actual development, and in doing so to appreciate how that development is connected to the larger historical flow of evolution over the last five thousand years of human culture. When our eyes open up to the reality of evolution in human nature and culture and we can look back and see not five thousand years of stasis but centuries and centuries of difficult and hard-won evolution in the interior of human lives and in the exterior of human society, we will stop hoping for messiahs. We will embrace a different vision of the future, one that requires the challenging but ultimately much more rewarding work of contributing to a process that transcends our own lives and that, miraculously, we can impact with our own actions.”
Maybe that’s the real meditation benefit of self-realization, being able to embrace and embody “being the change,” and the realization, that we’re the superheroes we’re waiting for. ﾠClick here to visit the original source of this post