One that that struck me is that he quotes teachers very selectively. Jack Kornfield does talk about the dangers of spiritual bypassing, as Tony Schwartz shows, but he also believes in the effectiveness of a spiritual path, a "path with heart." Schwartz seemed to be using that quotation to show that even meditation teachers consider what they do to be largely ineffective when Kornfield doesn't say that and writes copiously on how to use spiritual teachings to help you in ordinary life. Schwartz might do well to read him! He also quotes Catherine Ingram, who left the Buddhist path, but is still a spiritual teacher who does "dharma dialogues" and retreats, which I've been to. I think she has a complex relationship to Buddhist practice, but she definitely works to bring spirituality into daily life in a way that is not at the expense of meditation. She just likes to be less structured about it, as Schwartz's quote shows. He uses these teachers' statements in a misleading way. These teachers have a lot of spiritual faith, in practice both on and maybe especially off the cushion, and Schwartz gives no sense of that.
Another thing that struck me, and I think we've talked about it, is that he creates more of a separation between meditation on the cushion and mindfulness in daily life than there really is. Even the title of his article conveys this -- "more mindfulness, less meditation" -- as if they are not interrelated practices. In my experience, cultivating mindfulness on the cushion is a training ground for bringing mindfulness into daily life, and I think that is one of the points of sitting. It is not always easy to bring meditative insights into daily life, but the two forms are connected, the way that laypeople support monastics and monastics offer their vision of the dharma to laypeople -- there is supposed to be a symbiotic relationship between the cushion and the world, at least as I understand it. And as [Group Leader's name omitted] pointed out, that involves more than just sitting -- listening to dharma talks, reading dharma books, hanging out with sangha, even being part of other spiritual communities -- all of that helps enormously. I have been doing psychotherapy pretty intensively with experienced meditation practitioners for a bit more than four years now. I've had the chance to see that the combination of Buddhist practice and therapeutic reflection is extremely effective, I would say more effective than either one of these by itself, but that observation does not discredit meditation practice. Sometimes I bring insights I had on the cushion into therapy sessions. Sometimes therapy helps me identify a particular repetitive thought pattern when I'm sitting, because if I've discussed that thought pattern in therapy before it is easier for me to see it as mental conditioning, as a preoccupation rather than the truth, and so I can be less identified with it.
I don't understand the idea that meditation does not create transformation. I don't understand what you wrote, [Group Leader's name omitted], about the Buddha saying that it doesn't. Meditation is how he got enlightened. Practice is the only way to work with greed, hatred, and delusion at an experiential level, so it must be transformative, and that is what I've experienced. I would say that meditation does not work in isolation (what does?) but it absolutely transforms the mind and heart. If Schwartz has not experienced that, I would encourage him to speak to a spiritual teacher and alter his practice. He's missing something.
I would go so far as to say that transformation is the point, and it happens. But I think it doesn't happen the way we want as fast as we want. Maybe that's what Schwartz is dealing with. I know it's something I grapple with a lot in my own practice. Sometimes the transformation of practice is just noticing what is going on in more detail. Sometimes behavior doesn't change, right away or for a while. Some of my patterns have gone from incredibly difficult to deal with to now being somewhat repetitive bummers. I get upset they're not gone, but I try to remind myself that practice has its effect by helping these patterns be less debilitating, helping me live more freshly and freely. I also think that spiritual practice isn't linear. Sometimes certain wounds hurt over and over, and that's just the nature of it. Practice has a lot of beneficial effects, the chief one being awakening, eventually. I may get hard on myself and lose faith in myself, but I have a lot of faith in the path.