Episode 9 :: Spirituality for Atheists :: Part Two

| April 24, 2010 | 0 Comments

Grant Steves

Today we’re presenting the second part of our conversation with Grant Steves about spirituality for atheists, and we’ll get to that in a moment. But first, a question came up from the the previous podcast, part one of that interview. I ran into Jack Caravela this morning at Memorial Blood Centers, we and others were donating blood as part of our activities as atheists in Minnesota. Jack asked a very good, and indeed critical question: Is feeling connected, and being connected, the same?

No was my immediate answer. Our senses, our minds, are prone to error. We’ve all seen optical illusions, as an example we can all relate to. But it goes much, much deeper, and why I always take the word “evidence” in the phrase “emphirical evidence” with a grain of salt. As critical thinkers, as meditators, we all should!

So, to say one had an experience while meditating is perfectly valid. You did! You had an experience. Where we get into untestable waters is when we start attributing causes to that experience for which we have little to no proof. Sure, we have an experience of connectedness. That doesn’t mean we *are* connected. Maybe. Maybe not. But unlike Deepak Chopra, I’m not going to claim I caused an earthquake because of my meditation!

That being said, it’s what we *do* with those experiences that counts. The feeling of connectedness I have prompts me to be more compassionate about others, to be more willing to see their point of view. It puts me in a frame of mind that helps me make better choices — like I say at the conclusion of every podcast, we have a choice, every moment. We won’t be perfect. I certainly continue to savor the taste of my own foot, as I chew on it often. But this experience of meditation, this sense of connectedness, helps — it doesn’t *have* to have a quantum validity or supernatural component.

Let’s get back to Grant at Border’s Books in St. Paul…


:: Discuss this episode ::


“… If you do have a sense of kindness for yourself, if you do want yourself to be well, it would be well to forgive… Otherwise, guess who’s making you uncomfortable? You! So, forgiveness is letting go of your own self-imposed discomfort over the various shenanigans of other beings… People are up to shenanigans all the time. And they’ve got their own shenaniganned idea why.” — Ajahn Sona



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Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

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