Contrary to what one might glean from reading the evening news, there are countries out there with interesting events taking place outside of terrorist attacks in the Middle East and the spread of deadly diseases in western Africa. On a slightly less depressing note, Munishri Ajitchandrasagarji, a Jain monk in India, demonstrated his ability to memorize hundreds of random words and numbers. From the early morning until late in the afternoon, individual members of the audience addressed him and showed him an item, asked the solution to a math problem, and said phrases in six different languages. After the 500th person, the monk opened his eyes and recalled all 500 items with only one brief deviation.
The exhibition was to promote the use of meditation in schools to help children build brainpower, as the Jain monks have done for many centuries. Munishri met a traveling guru at the age of 10 and after receiving his parents’ blessing, began his travels across India. He currently has 20,000 verses of scripture committed to memory and can pull any of them out of his subconscious at will.
I am not interested in this for its world record-breaking status, but more for the implications it can have on young children’s development. If we could harness the ability of our strengthened minds, how beneficial would that be for an education system that is based largely on memorization? Not to mention everyday life. I think meditation is a tool that millions of people, if not tens of millions, use worldwide but is essentially ignored by Western systems.
Is meditation something we should pursue? The benefits of self-discipline, enhanced memory, and reduced stress levels seem on its face to be a no-brainer. Granted our world is a busy one, but isn’t that all the more reason to find calm?