Meditation isn’t spiritual. It’s practical. ~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jan 23, 2009
get elephant's newsletter

“Many of us are slaves to our minds. Our own mind is our worst enemy. We try to focus, and our mind wanders off. We try to keep stress at bay, but anxiety keeps us awake at night. We try to be good to the people we love, but then we forget them and put ourselves first. And when we want to change our life, we dive into spiritual practice and expect quick results, only to lose focus after the honeymoon has worn off. We return to our state of bewilderment. We’re left feeling helpless and discouraged. It seems we all agree that training the body through exercise, diet, and relaxation is a good idea, but why don’t we think about training our minds?” 

~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

With thanks for the tip.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


12 Responses to “Meditation isn’t spiritual. It’s practical. ~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.”

  1. So sorry Sakong-la. I am so respectful of you. But I cannot accept the headline of this little blurb….meditation IS spiritual and it IS practical. If you just meditate for practical purposes, where will you be? It really bothers me to think of people being "converted" to Buddhism by believing it's not a spiritual practice. It is, and why not be proud of that??

  2. admin says:

    Well, Patricia, we wrote that title–I did–of course, not the Sakyong. But the point is more intended for folks unlike yourself who don’t want to convert…but do want to be sane. Meditation practice is accessible to anyone, that’s all. Of course it’s spiritual, but calling it such doesn’t lure folks who otherwise may never be interested in looking at their own minds. If we regard meditation as mind-training, not new ageyness, we might get more folks on the cushion. Anyways, great points!

  3. Of course it’s written for non-buddhists. But my point is still the same. Without spirituality the practical aspects of Buddhism are a mute point.


    I think that our tradition aspires to go beyond any sort of self consciousness, including the self consciousness of “spirituality”-in fact we go beyond even the self consciousness of meditation itself. In the Kagyu tradition, there is the notion of “gome” or nonmeditation that is one of the highest practices. In the Nyingma and Shambhala tradition, is the notion of completely undermining all spiritual materialism. In part, this means making our experience complete, beyond any sort of label or even the subtle experiencial quality, or “nyam” of meditation and so-called spirituality itself. Hence, we have what is called “Dzogpa Chenpo” or the “Great Completion”. Therefore, I like your title, Waylon. I agree with you; meditation, in it’s most complete sense, can be said to be not spiritual. We strive for having a sense of humor in it’s truest sense. Good show. Now stop upsetting people with your controverial titles.

  5. Thanks for the insight—and LOL. It’s an honor to hear from you on elephantjournaldotcom, Neal!

  6. Of course, I completely agree with Neal. However, I just find a lot of articles focus on “non-spiritual” in an attempt to grab those readers who are turned off to spirituality. It’s a whole different issue than discussion dzogchen or mahamudra. I don’t think that was the subject of the Elephant article….
    But I completely agree with Neal’s points on the highest level.

  7. PS to Elephant Journal. I LOVE your publication and sorry to be criticizing one little headline! That’s the downside of blogging….

  8. Clearly meditation is spiritual and practical, spirituality is practical or ungrounded, the words are just symbols that point to experience, you don’t cut your finger off because you don’t need the signpost anymore.
    & Buddhist aren’t the only ones who meditate.

  9. […] You are able to communicate these ancient principles of Ayurveda or meditation to a Western audience in a way that doesn’t come off as strange, confusing or cultish—but […]

  10. kimberely says:

    Love it!

  11. Siva says:

    Probably, because the modern science(tist) have made others to feel like that way. Only if they talk in their terms the so called intellectuals will not lend their hand…