If you didn’t see this National Geographic Spcial last night, check it out at:
After seeing this program, or reading the text, it is interesting to read Sam Harris’ comments on meditation in ‘THE END OF FAITH’ - chapter 7 - Experiments in Consciousness:
“Inevitably, the primary obstacle to meditation is THINKING. This leads many people to assume that the goal of meditation is to produce a thought-free state. It is true that some experiences entail the temporary cessation of thought, but meditation is less a matter of suppressing thoughts than of breaking our identification with them, so that we can recognize the condition in which thoughts themselves arise. Western scientists and philosophers generally imagine that thinking is the epitome of conscious life and would no sooner have a mind without thoughts than hands without fingers. The fundamental insight of most Eastern schools of spirituality, however, is that while thinking is a practical necessity, the failure to recognize thoughts AS THOUGHTS, moment after moment, is what gives each of us the feeling that we call “I,” and this is the string upon which all our states of suffering and dissatisfaction are strung. This is an empirical claim, not a matter of philosophical speculation. Break the spell of thought, and the duality of subject and object will vanish - as will the fundamental difference between conventional states of happiness and suffering. This is a fact about the mind that few Western scholars have ever made it their business to understand.
It is on this front that the practice of meditation reveals itself to be both intellectually serious and indispensable. There is something to realize about the nature of consciousness, and its realization does not entail thinking new thoughts. Like any skill that requires refinements in perception or cognition, the task of recognizing consciousness prior to the subject/object dichotomy can be facilitated by an expert. But it is, at least in principle, an experience that is available to anyone.” (end quote)
At the above PBS website you can read the text, or find out when the program will be re-broadcast. The comparison between the stress-ridden baboon society in the wild, and employees at Britain’s ‘Whitehall’ bureaucracy is of interest to researchers. The health of the top-dog vs health of subordinates is studied over a 30-year period. Both ‘societies’ have the same healthcare and diet for all levels in the pecking order.