Motivated By Religious Fear

What motivates the average person to meditate? That is an easy question to answer. What motivates a spiritual seeker to meditate? That is more difficult to answer. Finally, how does religious fear motivate believers to meditate? That is an even trickier question.

In this post we will take a look at how religious doctrines scare individuals, which in turn motivates some of them to meditate. Is that a skillful approach? Is fear wholesome motivation? Take a moment to think about it...

Let's start out by listing the main reasons why someone would practice meditation. It could be to de-stress, calm the mind, bring about mental clarity and lower the blood pressure. To overcome depression and unhappiness. It could also be because it's fashionable or it may be based on curiosity.

Any of the above reasons may motivate you to take up meditation. What motivates you to practice may change over time, which is fine.

Now, spiritual seekers generally have a thirst to uncover ultimate truth and reality. Their motivation may also be fueled by a desire to enter upon spiritual realms and to encounter spiritual beings. Moreover, many seekers want to become enlightened or attain supernatural powers. Some wish to develop kindness or compassion, while others simply are driven by curiosity.

Your motivation is infused by your intentions. For example, an individual that meditates to overcome her depression has wholesome intentions. While someone who practices meditation for the purpose of attaining supernatural powers, in order to show off and manipulate others, is considered to have unwholesome intentions.

It is vital to understand that progress on the spiritual path is greatly affected by your intentions. Wholesome intentions open up for substantial progress, while unwholesome intentions greatly limits progress. This is a spiritual law or the nature of spirituality.

In The Name Of Religion

So, how does religious fear motivate people to meditate?

Let me illustrate it by telling you a real-life story. Once in a Buddhist monastery, I became acquainted with an Asian woman in her early sixties. She stayed at the temple for 4-5 weeks. Since it wasn't a meditation retreat, the daily schedule was made up of meditation practice, chores and free time.

One day she told me that she was preparing for her death. I had never before heard anything that drastic. Anyway, what does it mean to prepare for your death?

The woman was not suffering from a serious illness, she was healthy. Unlike myself, she was religious, a Buddhist.

The Buddhist doctrines clearly outline that individuals who do what is bad and wrong may end up in ghost or hell realms, upon death. These existences are said to be characterized by torment and last for inconceivable periods of time.

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Common wrongdoings include killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and the use of alcohol and drugs.

These doctrines obviously frighten religious people to the point that they are willing to carry out meritorious deeds, such as giving to Buddhist monasteries, refraining from wrongdoings and practicing meditation. It is believed that supporting a monastery and having good morals make for much merit.

According to Buddhist beliefs, the practice of meditation by far accumulates the most merit, since meditation is said to purify the mind and has the potential to lead to enlightenment.

It's important to note that the vast majority of Buddhists do not meditate. They find it difficult and are unwilling to make the effort. Instead, they support their local monastery. A small number of them also have a moral practice.

Needless to say, some religious individuals that support monasteries, refrain from wrongdoings or practice meditation are not motivated by fear, but by goodness and a genuine interest in spirituality.

Just to make sure that she wouldn't end up in a ghost or hell realm, the woman that was preparing for her death practiced meditation, which gives you the most points. Since her plan was to accumulate as much merit as possible, she also supported monasteries and had a moral practice.

This is a sad story for a number of reasons.

Her meditation practice would not be fruitful, since she was motivated by fear. That makes for unwholesome intentions.

To me, it's really odd that two individuals with totally different intentions meditate and work together in a Buddhist monastery. One is motivated by religious fear, and does whatever she can to avoid ending up in a ghost or hell realm; while the other is motivated to explore truth and reality, or phrased differently, to explore the spiritual worlds and the beings that inhabit them.

It's ugly to frighten people in the name of religion, and it saddens me to see devotees that do meritorious deeds out of fear.

Don't allow fear to dictate your life. It's utterly senseless.

I will round up the article by making a statement:

I'm spiritual, not religious. What is more, my spiritual practice is motivated by a deeply-rooted interest in truth and reality.

Best of luck!

Related:   I'm Spiritual   Your Intentions   Living For Spirituality

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