In Search of Happiness: Relative and Absolute Solutions

This article was originally published in Russian on December 29, 2014, in Eros and Kosmos magazine. This is a slightly corrected version.

Many clients come to mindfulness instructors searching for a little more peace, centeredness, wholeness, and happiness, as well as balance in life. This is what the practice of mindfulness meditation provides, according to modern research and thousands of years of tradition.

Helping people find a little more peace and harmony in their lives brings me a lot of joy, and I know that mindfulness techniques really work. However, I try to keep in mind that peace, centeredness, and happiness mean something very different in today’s non-religious meditation practice than they do in religious contemplative traditions.

First of all, in the modern secular tradition of meditation (which claims to have discarded all the 'mythical baggage' of traditional religions), there is a certain 'sleight of hand' in play, where the features and (side)effects of meditation replace its original goals, and become its new 'secularized' goals.

Meditation was designed for no other purpose than the complete and radical transformation of our consciousness to achieve liberation from the fundamental anxiety caused by the imaginary limitations of our 'self'.

In some traditions, this is achieved through insight into the illusory nature of the "self", and in others, through the realization of Oneness of the 'self' and God, and so on. For thousands of years, no one has practiced meditation to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or to optimize their work processes. Read more