Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun with advertisers!

It seems I've got some doozies these days:


The Silva Method is based on the idea that the mind-body connection is extremely powerful in healing and with the right mental attitude and with specific practices, you can dramatically speed up healing while working with your doctor.
So has it been proven by science? Yes!


  • EquisyncTM

    Did you know that people who meditate are much happier and healthier than everyone else? It‘s true. And they have greatly extended life spans, too. As a matter of fact, there have been numerous studies showing that meditation dramatically reduces, and even reverses disease of all types—including cancer.

The 33-credit Applied Meditation Studies program leads to a Master of Applied Meditation Studies degree (MAMS). The program prepares graduates who are uniquely skilled in the practical, professional, and theoretical dimensions of Buddhist meditation. Applied meditation can be adapted to many settings; for instance, to education, psychotherapy, social awareness, business, bereavement counseling, couples counseling, hospice care, pain management, corporate management, and Buddhist sangha building...

The program combines classroom study with fieldwork and practical experience. Sitting meditation practice is the central component of the meditation aspect of the program, while a practicum is central to the application aspect. Two intensive meditation retreats are built into the schedule to ensure deepened meditation practice.

              A sidebar on that page helpfully also informs me that

 The Won Institute is pleased to announce that Jeffrey Rubin, Ph.D.– the groundbreaking psychotherapist who works at integrating Buddhism and psychotherapy will join the Institute as a Visiting Scholar in fall 2008. Dr. Rubin will teach several workshops in the Certificate and Master's programs. The author of The Good Life, Psychotherapy and Buddhism: Toward Integration, and Psychoanalysis for Our Times: Exploring the Blindness of Seeing I, Dr. Rubin is a Dharma Holder in the White Plum Sangha and the Red Thread Zen Circle. He is an accomplished practitioner of meditation and yoga and holds degrees from Princeton, Columbia, and Union Institute.

UPDATE:
 The folks from the Won Institute respond to my inclusion of their institution here. in the comments - please read them to get their viewpoint.  I still have an essential problem with the model, as you can see in my response to them.  However, I applaud them for responding to my post here.  On reflection I don't think it's appropriate to label them as Spiritual Hucksters, but I would say I personally have an issue with the idea of this program, as opposed to training with a teacher.  I'm sure their mileage varies.  Plus, I'm still unclear as to what they're actually providing for the certificate; it's not evident to me.
   In order to get a   "certificate" in meditation the Won Institute will charge you $4400 bucks, although some kind of financial aid may be available (from the government?).  Is it just me or does anyone else here have a problem with an institution charging you $4400 bucks to meditate and then give you a "certificate" that says you did that?  While I'm all in favor of supporting temples and institutions financially, the academic model is especially unsuitable for meditation, certainly in the Zen tradition. You're done when your teacher says you're done or when you figure out that you're "done."  Which probably means you've decided that you don't need that teacher to continue on your own.

10 comments:

Glenn Wallis said...

Mumon,

I am pleased that someone out there has an eye out for "spiritual hucksterism." God knows there is an awful lot of that in our consumerist West. But in failing to distinguish between a sham imitation and a quality product, you reveal yourself, I am afraid, to be something of a huckster. If you had taken the time to investigate the Won Institute program, you would have found it to be something other than how you present it. The meditation certificate is not, for one thing, based on an "academic model." You yourself indicate this fact by quoting the Institute's website:

"The program combines classroom study with fieldwork and practical experience. Sitting meditation practice is the central component of the meditation aspect of the program, while a practicum is central to the application aspect. Two intensive meditation retreats are built into the schedule to ensure deepened meditation practice."

What is "academic" about that? By any standards--academic, Buddhist practitioner, even Zen--the students at the Won Institute receive excellent training in both the theoretical and practical aspects of meditation practice. Many professionals in the West are aware of the benefits that meditation brings to people, and so are able and willing to pay the cost for the certificate. Given the expenses involved in maintaining an educational institution, the tuition is quite reasonable.

Thank you for caring about the quality of meditation in the West. But please, be a little more caring--and careful!--in the future.

Glenn Wallis

P.S. I will be more than happy to have a conversation with you or any of your readers about our program.

WonDAIS said...

I work at Won Institute of Graduate Studies and I feel I must respond to this post. Without knowing anything about our graduate school or its programs you've already decided it's a sham. I invite you to take another look!
This program is designed for professionals, such as therapists, counselors, and health-care professionals, who already have a meditation practice AND would like to incorporate meditation into their work lives. For instance, a therapist who would like to design a meditation program for her clients, or an administrator who would like to bring meditation into a grade-school.
It is NOT for the purpose of teaching meditation to beginners OR to replace a lineage.
You may think it's ridiculous to pay $4400 for a Certificate Program in Applied Meditation and from the point of view of liberation, you would be correct. However, in the professional world, people expect credentials... this is the world we live in. Whom do you think is more likely to be invited to design a meditation program at a hospital: someone with a Master Degree in Applied Meditation? or that guy from some Sangha?
I see that Glenn Wallis has already responded to your post; he is the chair of the Applied Meditation Studies program, but I felt compelled to reply as well.

Mumon said...

Glenn:

Thanks for your comment. I am very grateful that someone from sites which I critique has responded on my blog; I will revise & issue a rejoinder below. However, I still maintain that charging credit hours for instruction in meditation, from my point of view, is somewhat outside of what I would consider ethical. The reason is simple: By putting a price on it above any kind of a nominal fee (say $5 or $10 but most preferably entirely voluntary at the discretion of the student) a broad class of people may feel excluded up front.

Nobody's supposed to charge for what in effect is the Dharma. Now specialized academic training might be a different case, but even professionals (I'm one, just not that kind) shouldn't be given special treatment because they're professional.

You say the certificate is not based on an academic model. Yet...why was I confused? Wasn't it because the program was conflated with others in that way?

Finally, you imply that people might want to take the course because of "the benefits that meditation brings to people." Now, I have benefited from my contemplative practice, no doubt about it.

But I daresay you can't do the practice to get the benefit, if you catch my drift. That's another issue I have.

I'm sure the folks there have their hearts in the right place, but please accept my slight remonstration here.

Mumon said...

WonDias:

Please see my comment to Glenn Wallis.
Thanks.

Mumon said...

Glenn & WonDIAS:

OK, re-reading WonDIAS's comment I have a slightly better idea of what you're trying to do, but I still have issues here, I'm afraid to say.

I mean, I would have a problem if my kid's teacher tried to teach him meditation in a method which I did not approve, and I'm not sure it's even an appropriate thing for counselors to be doing; there's issues involved of informed consent that seem hard to justify here.

Like I said, I think your hearts are in the right place, and maybe some of these things leap out at me because of my unique professional deformation (lots of lawyers in the family and lots of anti-trust and ethical compliance training at work).

Glenn Wallis said...

One last matter (I just saw your update). You say you "have an issue with the idea of this program, as opposed to training with a teacher."

We are teachers! The Institute is populated by teachers are all varieties, including Buddhist and meditation. The two--academics and practice--do not have to be mutually exclusive, do they?

Glenn Wallis said...

Thank you for your thoughtful response, Mumon. In conversation style (maybe a few posts, because of size):

>>By putting a price on it above any kind of a nominal fee (say $5 or $10 but most preferably entirely voluntary at the discretion of the student) a broad class of people may feel excluded up front.<<

That is a good point, and one that we have been sensitive to since we opened our doors. We offer many meditation-related events to the public for nominal fees ($5-10), and we have a generous scholarship program for students who cannot afford our program. As we raise more money, we plan to make the program even more available to more people. But even now, our students come from a wide range of social, ethnic, racial, etc., groups.

Glenn Wallis said...

(continued)
>>Nobody's supposed to charge for what in effect is the Dharma.<<

I do not hold “the Dharma” to be so precious. Siddhattha Gotama, it is true, had many good and valuable insights into our human condition. But he also, (apparently—or was it his institutional-building monks?), had many bad ones as well. “The Dharma” includes it all. I don’t.

>>You say the certificate is not based on an academic model. Yet...why was I confused? Wasn't it because the program was conflated with others in that way?<<

Yes, I can see how that is confusing. One reason that I left mainstream academia was precisely to apply an innovative combination of approaches to meditation. As a thirty-five year Buddhist meditation practitioner, I certainly know the value of that approach. As a decades-long practitioner of Buddhist studies, I know the value of intellectual work as well. (Maybe I can add here that as the son of two therapists, I saw first-hand the value of that work, too.) I have found that in traditional Buddhist settings, there may be strong sitting practice, but rarely are one’s intellectual inquiries adequately answered. That was, in any case, always my experience. A sectarian answer is not wholly satisfactory. And I found it frustrating trying to teach undergraduates students Buddhism without being able to introduce a practice component. So, what excited me about the Won Institute was the possibility of combining these two powerful means of gaining knowledge and wisdom. In our classes, we typically employ three models: concept (understanding the ideas, models, assumptions, claims, etc. of the teachings); process (observing in sitting practice whether and how these concepts map onto actual experience); and application (translating what we have learned and seen into programs for our constituencies). So, yes, you are correct, it is a combination of things.

Glenn Wallis said...

(continued)
>>I daresay you can't do the practice to get the benefit, if you catch my drift. That's another issue I have.<<

Yes, I do catch your drift, and I wholeheartedly agree with you. We are very sensitive to the rhetoric of meditation—that is, to the claims of benefit that are made both within the tradition and by modern-day teachers. One of the benefits of including an academic component into our model is that we have a place for critically evaluating such claims. Our students become sensitive to the dangers of presenting meditation practice as a quasi-magical cure all—something that will save them from samsara. On the other hand, meditation does “do” something. So, how do you navigate this “does/does-not” dichotomy? It’s a question we constantly ask (without, I should add, providing an answer).

Glenn Wallis said...

(continued--final)
>>I'm sure the folks there have their hearts in the right place, but please accept my slight remonstration here.<<

We, of course, do believe that our hearts are in the right place. But we need people like you to keep (get) them there. In our program, we have the greatest respect for remonstration. It is a necessary ingredient of genuine dialogue. It creates the pressure for honest exchange. With it, or its various forms, our talk is complacent chatter. (So, a slight remonstration here: are you aware of the irony of allowing those Google ads for “meditation” at the top of your site?) On the path of human being, why should there be fear of hard questions, critical inquiry, and, yes, slight remonstration?

So, please, don’t stop doing what you do.