This message is an excerpt of an email from Aileen:
I have practiced meditation and I think it has been very important for me, although I can see why it might not be for everyone. First of all, for me it is very connected with my faith, and I think that if I did not believe in a higher power, I might feel a little silly meditating. Unless, of course, I had some sort of a trippy thought that helped me to focus (like, say, "we are all waves on the same ocean" or something like that). But still, I think I might feel it was a little pointless. If I remember correctly, Nagler says some of the same effects can be achieved by reading a relaxing book. Is that correct?
I think someone who does not believe in a higher power would have to find some way to tap into some sort of source of inner life and energy, because working with violence really saps you. (People who have lived closely with violence for a long period of time always seem half-dead to me, sort of shadowy, and I feel a little the same way whenever I come into contact with an extremely violent situation. For me my energy comes from my faith, so I am curious about what an atheist non-violent activist could do to keep him/herself going). Maybe this energy could be found in nature, or art, or other kinds of beauty? I don't know, I imagine that humanists have already studied this sort of thing.
Do humanists believe that love is a sort of chemical reaction in the brain, or how do you explain it? I am curious.
I mentioned Thich Nhat Hahn because he is a Buddhist monk who writes about meditating as a form of non-violence. I feel like if I want to understand non-violence, and not be naive about it, I have to study the people who practice non-violence in the most violent situations. ( i.e. it is not very impressive to meet someone who practices non-violence if they have never been threatened. When I hear about someone who pratices non-violence when their friends and family are being murdered, then I am naturally more impressed). Thich Nhat Hanh is one such person, and then of course there is the Dalai Lama, and naturally Gandhi, and I have run across some inspiring Mennonites along the way as well.