Leadership in Secular Meditation

tibetan singing bowl with mallet and pebblesIf you didn’t see former Vice President Joe Biden on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, I recommend it. I watched on my computer after the fact, and was riveted by the skill of the interviewer and the authenticity and passion of the interviewee. The interview ranged from speculation about the 2020 presidential race, to grief over the death of his son, to love of family and country. Biden spoke eloquently about moral responsibility of presidential leadership.

Whatever your politics, the issue of moral leadership is vitally important. As citizens of the world, we are vulnerable to the inclinations of leaders in ways that we may not always consider.

Today, I led a community drop-in meditation where approximately thirty people were present, most of whom I did not know. As I settled in to ring the brass bowl, I was struck by the responsibility of my task.

As mindfulness has gone mainstream, it is important to address the issue of responsibility. It is incumbent upon those of us who teach and lead meditation to be well trained, to seek consultation with other teachers as needed, and to commit to ongoing education. It goes without saying that an absolute requirement is a regular mediation practice for oneself. I believe the following:

  • It is irresponsible and unethical to guide another person in shifting their awareness and their usual relationship with their mental phenomena without doing so oneself.
  • It is irresponsible and unethical to sit on a cushion in front of a group and not be prepared to handle a personal or emotional crisis in attendance.
  • It is irresponsible and unethical to engage in a personal relationship that does not respect interpersonal boundaries.
  • It is irresponsible and unethical to portray oneself as trained in a mindfulness offering that you are not trained in.

This is moral leadership, and although it may not have the same implications as the Oval Office, it still matters.


~Claire Weiner
November 14, 2017