P, these are excellent points. You're exactly right that meditation can be used as a tool for cultivating self-focus. Ironically a "mindfulness" practice could wind up strengthening the egoic sense of I-vs.-you. I would argue that "being present all the time"--actually present, not wrapped in self-absorption--cannot lead to an unwillingness "to understand the other mortal forms of existence." As something I read recently said so clearly, mindfulness practice is not about transcending this world and our relationships, but about transcending the old ego self. Mindfulness practice can bring us more fully into our experience, not insulate and alienate us from it. So when we've set an intention to meditate, it's important that we do it, well, mindfully. Otherwise we risk strengthening the very patterns we might have set out to change.

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