Buddhist Meditation and Schizophrenia: Ed Knight

First Aired: 05-28-2008 -- 3 comments | Add comment
Ed Knight

Recovery leader and survivor Ed Knight talks about Zen, Insight, and Christian meditation and “schizophrenia,” including discrimination against people with psychiatric labels at meditation retreats, the link between spiritual awakening and madness, and living beyond “managing symptoms.”


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3 comments on “Buddhist Meditation and Schizophrenia: Ed Knight

  1. Being born and raised a Buddhist, it does sadden me to learn of the discrimination that those with issues face. I thank you for making your struggles public so that others may learn and benefit from them. I hope that others who want to know what the meaning of Buddhism will continue to search the path and avoid the shortcut of labeling others.

    1. My name is Ed Knight PhD. (edknight1900@gmail.com) I did the interview posted above.
      Zen places the human mind in place of God. Zen means essentially concentration. For Zen followers, the way to anything is through concentration. I sought this way for years.

      My Zen quest was a way of seeking God. It is good to seek God. I suggest: do not stop seeking him. Acts 17:27 shows this. “…he decreed the appointed times and the set limits of where men would dwell, so that they would seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us…”
      However, the way to find God is to love him. The way in Christianity is not concentration (Zen) but love. Very different. 1 John 4:8. “Whoever does not love has not come to know God, because God is love”
      So what does it mean to love God Jehovah? 1 John 5:3 “For this is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”

      I studied Buddhism for about 20 years. Enough time to advance in understanding. In the end I found Buddhism to be a religion “having an appearance of godliness but proving false to its power;” 2 Timothy 3.5. Buddhism could not deliver what it promised.

      I have spent much of my life in a search for the truth. For the last 50 years since the onset of a life- long mental illness, this search has had a focus of trying to find ways to deal with anxiety and other unpleasant “alternate mental states”. I have searched through ecumenical social gospel activism, Sufism, Tai Chi and Taoism, Raja Yoga, Mindfulness Meditation and Zen Buddhism. This interview is a result of my 20 year Buddhist search. Subsequent to this interview I had another emotional and mental relapse of calamitous proportions. Pulling out of it I needed more than breath awareness (or concentration—Zen) about which I know a good deal having been a senior student of the Sensei I had in the Zen Peacemaker Sangha. I turned to the bible following the obvious calm my wife had through all my ups and downs due to her bible based faith.

      She does not practice a civil religion. Christianity was quickly diverted after Christ’s death into a religion used to justify political power. How un-Christian this is can be seen in John 18:36 “My Kingdom is no part of this world. If my Kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be handed over… But as it is, my Kingdom is not from this source.” Kierkegaard called the civil religion of Christianity Christendom I believe.

      What did I realize from the bible? And more important actualize? Roshi Bernie Glassman makes this distinction. About cigar smoking he said he had the realization that it was bad for him but did not care to actualize this realization and actually give up smoking cigars.

      First realization/actualization: Being complete, not lacking in anything.
      “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet with various trials, knowing as you do that this tested quality of your faith produces endurance. But let endurance complete its work, so that you may be complete and sound in all respects, not lacking in anything.” James 1:2-4.
      As a Buddhist I had searched for being complete with the realization that the very search was an admission that I was not complete. I apparently had to give up the search to find completion. But faith tested by the calamities I have been facing has brought the realization through endurance that I am complete. It is not just a realization but in the actions of life I have the certainty that I am complete. Facing the calamities I do not waiver. I walk straight through them not looking to the right or left for I know I am complete. The restlessness of materialism has been replaced by contentment. I do not quest to buy things to fill an imagined emptiness. I can sit still and not need to find something to stop the anxious quality of post-modern life.

      Second realization/actualization: Contentment with the present
      With completion comes contentment with the present.
      “Let your way of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For he has said: “I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.” So that we may be of good courage and say: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

      You may ask what is my practice? Is there anything like meditation?
      I have two practices: First, constant prayer mentioned by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and, second, something recommended in the Hebrew scriptures by Joshua: “This book of the Law should not depart from your mouth, and you must read it in an undertone day and night, in order to observe carefully all that is written in it.” Joshua 1:8

  2. Ed and Will, I utiliize both of your works to legitimize my advocacy efforts within the belly of the beast here in Massachusetts.

    My dedication is to public mental health clients, people who are the most disenfranchised, because these are the folks who are most resemble me when I entered the mental health system at age sixteen, some 45 years ago. Because I have white skin privilege and speak enough of the King’s English, my “denial” of my ‘mental illness’ was not challenged by the mental health authority as it is so often today. [I believe the nine diagnoses I have accumulated over the decades is a profound reaction to childhood trauma and trauma of homelessness caused by childhood trauma.]

    I find psychistry the primary arm of facism today. We need to move past identity politics and join with others to create a new civil rights movement in the USA and world wide.

    People with mh diagnoses lack any and all civil rights, hence, although I qualified academically several years back to practice both rehabilitation and mental health counselfing I work instead in human rights. This is far more satisfying and real.

    Your program is wonderful and your work revolutionary!!!Thank YOU!!! Naomiruth

    groovey as a movie

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