Problems along the way:
The American way of life is not founded on the interplay of human virtues supporting and encouraging one another, but rather on completing human appetites keeping one another in check. America blunts one's finest sensibilities by -insisting that life is a grabfest, a jungle, a dog-eat-dog fight.
T. Obinkaram Echewa - A Nigerian Looks a America - Newsweek July 5, 1982
1. Slow progress - in Asia practice carried on at home.
2. Fixated practice - fixated on psychodynamic level of experience. Their practice continues to be dominated by primary process thinking and "unrealistic experience" as well as by an increase in fantasy, daydreaming, reverie, imagery, spontaneous recall of past memories, depression of conflictual material, incessant thinking and emotional lability, including dramatic swings in mood.
3. Strong transferences develop to teachers.
Why do the problems listed above appear?
1. Problems in concentration
2. Fascination with content of consciousness
3. Confusing meditation with psychotherapy - analyze instead of observe.
4. Lack of a supportive cultural context. When therapeutic context is eliminated, meditation is practiced as an isolated technique, with disregard for many other important behavioral, motivational, intra- psychic and interpersonal factors such as right livelihood, right action, right understanding and right intention.
Two major problem groups - early adulthood transition and mid-life transition.
Jack Engler - Transformations of Consciousness
Most of the problems of life disappear with the dissolution of this false self.
Dangers of Experiences which Resemble Contemplation
1. Quietism - is to empty ones self to be filled with God. Quietists remain in an inert vacuum. They have the peace of the annihilated soul.
2. Non religious existentialism. There is a huge difference between a person who is "shut up in himself and cannot open his heart to another being and the man who has forgotten himself and becomes lost in being."
3. Illuminism. Consists of taking one's subjective experience so seriously that it becomes more important than God. Spiritual experience becomes more important than God.
A true contemplative is no sensationalist: he loves sobriety and obscurity. Having no taste for spiritual excitement, being content to remain at peace in emptiness without projects and vanities, he is delivered from subjection to appearances.
The contemplative withdraws into solitude, not to evade reality, but to find things and accept them as they are. The contemplative thinks not of himself; the neurotic thinks only of himself.
William H. Shannon - Thomas Merton's Dark Path