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The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation

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The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Silas Day 4/30/19 7:26 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Nick O 4/30/19 9:12 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation John Not2 4/30/19 10:25 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Nick O 5/1/19 6:59 AM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation lotb 5/1/19 11:43 AM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/1/19 2:32 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation John Not2 5/1/19 3:52 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/1/19 3:54 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Nick O 5/1/19 7:49 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Daniel M. Ingram 5/2/19 12:57 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Rich Lee 5/2/19 1:14 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Daniel M. Ingram 5/3/19 5:30 AM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Silas Day 5/2/19 2:54 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation John Not2 5/2/19 5:36 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Daniel M. Ingram 5/3/19 5:32 AM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Ernest Michael Olmos 5/2/19 2:33 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/2/19 2:59 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Ernest Michael Olmos 5/3/19 9:41 AM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/3/19 12:14 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Ernest Michael Olmos 5/3/19 1:26 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/3/19 4:18 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Matt 5/3/19 4:54 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 5/3/19 4:55 PM
RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation Andromeda 5/3/19 5:31 AM
Hello everyone! I have some thoughts and wanted to run them past this wonderful community of practitioners, and am also thinking of making an animated video about it but we will see how it progresses.  

I think that besides working as a labeling tool or historical reference the division of the various schools of thought seems to hinder the advancement of Meditational exploration and theory. While I think that each school of thought whether it comes from the Mahayana, Theravada, or Vajrayana( extending then out into other realms of meditational study such ads Vedanta, Taoism, etc..) has their particular strengths, the division between them is what keeps us from truly mapping and practically unifying a more streamlined understanding.

This is not to say that something like this doesn't already exist in one form or another, but if it does I think that the barrier for entry is perhaps too high due to a variety of factors. Yet, I understand the necessity of this barrier both practice-wise and intellectually to a degree. 

I think that we live in an age where we have the capability and necessary know how/practical sense to create a unified theory of meditation, but maybe I give us too much credit!

Personally, the Rationalist and Westerner in me wants to call it  " The Science of The Immaterium", but that might be a bit too gaudy for some. 

What is stopping us from taking all of the best ideas, practices, mappings, and qualities of the myriad schools of Buddhism/meditational schools and bringing them together to work with a common vocabulary, language, and map of the paths? With these being able to fundamentally reshape how the world is seen by combining the science and understanding of the material world with the mapping and wider understanding of the Immaterial world!

I recognize that this would be a Herculean task to undertake , but with it we could revolutionize the understanding of our conscious existence as a whole. 

My question is why hasn't this already been done? It seems that each of these schools of thought and maps that are present here and in almost every spiritual school seem to be a piece of a larger puzzle. Is it simply because we have never had the capability that we do today to bring together the absolutely massive amount of information that this would require? Or am I talking into thin and this already has happened and I am simply unaware of it?

I am very interseted in this! I would love to know what some of you think.  

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
4/30/19 9:12 PM as a reply to Silas Day.
I'd suggest that this very forum and works like MCTB is an attempt at such a thing. On the other hand, I'm not one to have the opinion that a variety of schools with differing models and techniques is necessarily a hinderance to mass awakening. There's dogma, theory and cultural baggage that keeps traditions in disagreement but more importantly there's brain chemistry, pyschological background, natural abilities, and karma that can lead two individuals to have success with two conflicting models of awakening and swear by the territory in the maps they followed. I've ventured down different avenues in my own practice just enough to see the possibility of truth in conflicting techniques, models or paths.       

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
4/30/19 10:25 PM as a reply to Nick O.
Does Advaita Vedanta fit the bill?  take an unbiased look into that and find out on your own, all religions claim that theirs are supreme, I had rejected all, until there is one I cannot, based on objective reasoning, not faith/believes.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/1/19 6:59 AM as a reply to John Not2.
There was a fascinating discussion here several months back about Vedanta and Buddhism. OP is an experienced Vedanta practitioner and scholar. Worth a read!

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/1/19 11:43 AM as a reply to Silas Day.

seems to hinder the advancement of Meditational exploration and theory

Why do you believe this to be true?

the division between them is what keeps us from truly mapping and practically unifying a more streamlined understanding.

Why do believe this to to be true?

As you say, various traditions have their own unique strengths. Said strengths either resonate or don't with practitioners on a case to case basis. For example, Vajrayana's strengths make it unpalatable for many people, and synthesizing its techniques into a larger system would likely water it down. Since you mention Mahayana as well, it's worth remembering that Vajrayana is informed by a Mahayana view, and that the  three yana system considers where a practitioner is on the path as to best instruct them in a gradual way.

This is not to say that something like this doesn't already exist in one form or another
 It does indeed, in many forms. Lots of people are taking on exactly what you're proposing in this post.

but if it does I think that the barrier for entry is perhaps too high due to a variety of factors
Why, and to whom is the barrier of entry too high? 

This line of thinking, of unifying and synethesizing meditation cultures with science is not new at all, nor is making dharma more palatable to a variety of people. The former is inevitable and will likely continue to contribute immensely to the endeavor of awakening. 

I'd like to ask you though: why is diversity in this instance considered a weakness? In which ways would you consider this apparent diversity as a good thing, as a sign of necessity? Are there any downsides you could cite in terms of homgenizing all of these various traditions under one header? And finally, perhaps the similarities of these traditions, whether in a larger sense or technically speaking, aren't as different as they may appear?

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/1/19 2:32 PM as a reply to Silas Day.
I don’t believe it to be possible to capture the complexity of reality in one single model. Reality isn’t neatly packaged like that, and if it were, I don’t believe we would be here to experience it.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/1/19 3:52 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I don’t believe it to be possible to capture the complexity of reality in one single model. Reality isn’t neatly packaged like that, and if it were, I don’t believe we would be here to experience it.


I like that!

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/1/19 3:54 PM as a reply to John Not2.
emoticon I’m glad.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/1/19 7:49 PM as a reply to John Not2.
John Not2:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
I don’t believe it to be possible to capture the complexity of reality in one single model. Reality isn’t neatly packaged like that, and if it were, I don’t believe we would be here to experience it.


I like that!
Me too! emoticon

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/2/19 12:57 PM as a reply to Silas Day.
The casms that would need to be bridged are vast, the arguments to be solved are huge, the territoriality to be overcome is nearly insurmountable, the long-standing feuds are too numerous, the intractable propaganda positions taken are too entrenched, and the level of understanding of most of the people that are running the sects and institutions that would have to be on board to make that happen are generally way too low.

Even Culadasa and I can't get along on numerous points, and we are so close in some ways it is like Holland and Belgium feuding with each other, and we think of ourselves as educated, sane, reasonable people, both have doctoral degrees, both dream of having a scientific perspective applied to the dharma, and yet, and yet...

Even plenty of theoretically reasonable, smart, sane, well-educated, well-practiced people that are seriously into Pragmatic Dharma and came up in the same traditions haven't been able to get along on the DhO. Heck, Kenneth Folk and I haven't spoken in years, and we are as close as it gets, in theory, but, in practice, we all just seriously fucking suck in comparison to the level of maturity that would be required, and the degree to which we would all need to get the fuck over ourselves.

I think the experiment has been done, and the dream that we will do something like Chemistry did with nomenclature, or Mathematics with symbols, or Physics with formulae is not going to happen, as we are just too immature, too stupid, too blind, too attached to our little feudal kingdoms, proprietary brands, and the like.

My two cents this cynical evening. You can't know how much I would love to be proven wrong on this.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/2/19 1:14 PM as a reply to Silas Day.
Didn't Ken Wilber spend a lot of time matching maps? Istr a book - perhaps Theory of Everything - with loads of tables. I think he then tried to pick the best bits across the board to build an Integral Meditation/Practice programme that he sold in a glossy package format.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 5:30 AM as a reply to Rich Lee.
Major casms too vast to be easily bridged, andt his is far from a complete list:

A luminous, stable all-ground of consciousness vs the true emptiness of any real, stable consciousness: this single point has fractured traditions for over 2,500 years and likely will as long as there are practitioners. People get really pissy about this one.

How to handle emphases on samatha vs insight: again a point that fractures traditions and has for millennia.

Should you even use maps at all? Whole traditions are seriously into their non-mappiness, just as others are seriously into their mappiness, and never the twain shall meet.

Gurus vs not? Whole traditions split over this.

What texts to follow? Seriously, even the Theravada, typically a bastion of clarity on these sorts of points, have whole groups that throw out not only the commentaries but huge chunks of the Pali Canon as "not being authentic enough", and if they don't think most of the Pali Canon is authentic enough, consider their opinion on, say, the Mahayana Sutras.

What is jhana? Seriously, even reasonable people can't seem to help but get all categorical in their thinking vs dimensional in their thinking, and so write off and disparriage everything that doesn't fit into their narrow little boxes.

What is awakening and what does it look like? Seriously a never ending clusterfuck of absurdity, dogma, and sectarian crazy happens over this one.

Which object to use: breath, body, mantra, visualization, space, what? Whole traditions fracture over this one. Look at Goenka vs Mahasi vs TMI vs Pa Auk etc.: these are all theoretically in the Theravada, yet many adherants of these sects can barely even agree that the others might have valid points about how they do their practices.

Effort vs non-effort/Goals vs non-goals? Whole traditions split on this one. Compare tons of neo-Advaita and Zen traditions with those more mappy ones and see how that is going to be resolved, meaning not likely at all.

Sila: serious complexities exist: consider the vegetarian vs non-vegetarian traditions, the drinking vs non-drinking traditions, the entheogenic vs non-entheogenic traditions, the pro-life vs pro-choice traditions, and then add in all the disagrements about money and the dharma, and on, and on, and on...

Then add in all the sect and center leaders with major personality disorders, particularly those who have the stronger Cluster B traits, which are numerous, and imagine how they are all going to get along.

Then add in all the competition for market share, readership, social media views, and the like, and then add in the for-profit Mindfulness corporate entities, and imagine how they are all going to come together, I mean have a Mega-merger to Massive Consolidated Mindfulness, Inc.

Yeah, somehow I am not seeing it. Again, please, please, please, please, please prove me utterly wrong! Thanks!

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/2/19 2:33 PM as a reply to Silas Day.
The basic problem is that each person can't communicate with each other efficiently.
Yes, we have words, expressions, books, videos, communities, authorities, etc. But at the very basic level, they don't work.

Our ideas, feelings, etc, we can't share them with others. So, we make comparisons.
Good! How good? Insanely good! How insanely?

Even more, as experiences that arise from meditation are very different from common experiences, you can't compare them, so communication is lost.

For example, if I have an image in my head, I can describe it to other person, but I can't transfer it. And description, no matter how good, is not enough.

So, this is a human limitation (has been this way for, like, ever). Many people think that Internet will help with this, but they don't understand what internet really is or what is going on.

Internet allows to share information without loss (text, pictures, videos, etc). Machines can do that.
We need machines that can "read" the mind, what is going on when we meditate (like the muse, but better, a lot better).
We need machines to "undestand" text, pictures and video in a way that we can't.

"Value" will (already is) shifting from humans to machines.

About the timeframe, my guess is that sensor technology will improve a lot (is already improving and getting cheaper) and we will have a good "mind reader" by 2025, 2030. Also by that time, programs that understand text, pictures and video (like getting the idea of what is what) will be available.

I really wish that we humans could get this things working by talking, etc, but it just not going to happen.
Our limitations are just too great.

That said, we can do a lot with current technology and there are a lot of people that have very detailed explanations of things.

Unfortunately, no matter how good the book, the article, the post, each person has to "decode it back" and a lot is lost.
Also, it requires a lot, a lot of effort (McMindfullness is a lot easier emoticon).

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/2/19 2:54 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I think that no matter what, the opposition will be massive, the minds too closed off or stuck in archaic tribalism. I am not saying that this is going to be something that happens overnight it would be something that would take years and years or perhaps even centuries to take root. '

I am not calling for the total unification of all sects and fields of Dharma and all other traditions and for everyone to get along and sing kumbaya, I consider myself more sensible than to think that pipe fantasy could ever be a reality. But (and this is a BIG but) I think that to  form a unified theory of meditation that encompasses the findings of each tradition and style compared to one another in a sensible and pragmatic way would be the greatest help to the posterity of meditation that we could bring about and offer.

and yes, It will be controversial, hell it would be Heretical to many many people and practices, but I think in the end it would be more than worth being burned on a metaphorical stack or two if it meant we could lay the foundation for even the chance of that unified theory flowering into reality.

I recognize that this could be a lifetime of work or several lifetimes. to even go about having an adequate understanding of each of the traditions to give each of them their proper credence. To take the time to work with, interview, and understand the perspective of the various masters, schools, and realms of thought would be another lifetime.

Yes, These things are challenges, Daniel everything you listed(and what everyone else has mentioned) would be a hurdle that we would have to face, we would have to keep a close eye on ourselves not to give too much to one way or another even if it didn't work well for us but worked well for others, but offer them as various alternatives to all places on the journey from here to enlightenment.

Hell, I might not even be the Honky heretic to propose an idea of such architectonic scale. Even with all of this against us I know that in my gut it would be one of the greatest gifts even given to humanity. A unified field understanding of the perspectives and practices for mapping the Immaterium. I know this doesn't prove anything and perhaps I am ignorant to the absolutely vast desert that we would have to cross to make such a thing happen, But I still think that it would be well worth every drop of sweat, absolutle confusion, and fumming disagreement that we came across.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/2/19 2:59 PM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
I agree with most of what you said, but would like to add a couple of things.

I’m a communication researcher within a more dialogical tradition, so for me it is important to emphasize that communication is more than just transportation of ideas. Ideas are created in the interplay between people, not inside one head. We build on each other’s contributions in a conversation or discourse. Together we create ideas that none of the participants had in mind to begin with. Mindreading wouldn’t help with that. It would probably take away the liminal zone of uncertainty that gives room for creativity. Human communication requires a common ground but also a certain vagueness, and it has to be the right kind of common ground and the right kind of vagueness for it to be productive. I don’t know which one of these requirements is more difficult to achieve. Both are challenging.

Also, I think essential parts of our meditative experiences are non-conceptual. That is not a limitation, but a strength, as I see it. I agree that language is insufficient for communicating it, though, and that can be frustrating since we are after all confined to a finite mind at least most of the time. A finite mind cannot understand the infinite.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/2/19 5:36 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Major casms too vast to be easily bridged, andt his is far from a complete list:

A luminous, stable all-ground of consciousness vs the true emptiness of any real, stable consciousness: this single point has fractured traditions for over 2,500 years and likely will as long as there are practitioners. People get really pissy about this one.

How to handle emphases on samatha vs insight: again a point that fractures traditions and has for millennia.

Should you even use maps at all? Whole traditions are seriously into their non-mappiness, just as others are seriously into their mappiness, and never the twain shall meet.

Gurus vs not? Whole traditions split over this.

What texts to follow? Seriously, even the Theravada, typically a bastion of clarity on these sorts of points, have a whole groups that throw out not only the commentaries but huge chunks of the Pali Canon as "not being authentic enough", and if they don't think most of the Pali Canon is authentic enough, consider their opinion on, say, the Mahayana Sutras.

What is jhana? Seriously, even reasonable people can't seem to help but get all categorical in their thinking vs dimensional in their thinking, and so write off and disparriage everything that doesn't fit into their narrow little boxes.

What is awakening and what does it look like? Seriously a never ending clusterfuck of absurdity, dogma, and sectarian crazy happens over this one.

Which object to use: breath, body, mantra, visualization, space, what? Whole traditions fracture over this one. Look at Goenka vs Mahasi vs TMI vs Pa Auk etc.: these are all theoretically in the Theravada, yet many adherants of these sects can barely even agree that the others might have valid points about how they do their practices.

Effort vs non-effort/Goals vs non-goals? Whole traditions split on this one. Compare tons of neo-Advaita and Zen traditions with those more mappy ones and see how that is going to be resolved, meaning not likely at all.

Sila: serious complexities exist: consider the vegetarian vs non-vegetarian traditions, the drinking vs non-drinking traditions, the entheogenic vs non-entheogenic traditions, the pro-life vs pro-choice traditions, and then add in all the disagrements about money and the dharma, and on, and on, and on...

Then add in all the sect and center leaders with major personality disorders, particularly those who have the stronger Cluster B traits, which are numerous, and imagine how they are all going to get along.

Then add in all the competition for market share, readership, social media views, and the like, and then add in the for-profit Mindfulness corporate entities, and imagine how they are all going to come together, I mean have a Mega-merger to Massive Consolidated Mindfulness, Inc.

Yeah, somehow I am not seeing it. Again, please, please, please, please, please prove me utterly wrong! Thanks!
these are the same problems experienced in ancient India, Hindus had explored possible solutions for these problems for tens of thousands of years (at least).  

Borrowing the "4 stages of life" in Hinduism.  DHO'ers are all in stage 1-3, the 4th stage is Sannyasa, it is only in the 4th stage that one would be able to fully give up all disagreements and beliefs, renounce the mundane societal and family life, go deep into mountains, forests, caves, etc., solitarily, to meditate and to find the answers.  So, all is well, all is as expected, because we are not there yet, far from it, are any of you Sannyasins?

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 5:31 AM as a reply to Silas Day.
I used to think something like that was a good idea, but over the years I've changed my mind and not just because of the reasons Daniel lists (although that's part of it, too).

When it comes to awakening, "understanding" at the conceptual level isn't the point at all. Whatever theories the conceptual mind can come up with, it can never truly capture the infinite mystery at the heart of experience. And trying to fit all the different traditions--which are their own expressions of this mystery and the human relationship to it--under one conceptual framework seems like hubris to me. Even if we could come up with something, the results would probably seem bland and uninspiring. Kind of like the Epcot World Showcase in Disneyworld. Sure, you can go to Fake Mexico and eat a churro, but it's not the same as a night out in Mexico City with the people who've grown up there. We often speak dismissively about McMindfulness--well, any kind of unified theory sounds to me a bit too much like McBuddhism.

I'm trained as a scientist, but as the years have gone by and I've spent more and more time with the mystery, the less inclined I am to think of things in scientific terms. Too utilitarian and reductive. Poetry and story work better for me these days.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 5:32 AM as a reply to John Not2.
Again, that type of model imposition regarding the ideal of a Sannyassin is a perfect example of why the traditions don't get along. Q.E.D.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 9:41 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
It's important to make a difference here.

Communication can be used to achieve a basic goal or to "trasmit" something.

To achieve a basic goal, communicacion is very useful. You can tell someone how good meditation is and that someone will meditate. You can look for common ground in words and get a lot of people to agree on the basic meaning of those words. You can put a lot of people together and "brainstorm" a problem.

That's because to take basic actions, you don't need details.

To trasmit something with lots of detail or gradient, communication is not that useful. Even more, morals and ethics have different meaning for different people, even if they agree, they may be thinking of different things!!

About the interplay of ideas, you are right, but again, when you are about to take complex actions on those ideas, things fall apart and reveal that most things people agreed, they didn't agree so much to begin with.

Basic actions of one or two people, communication can be useful for that.

However, when you need to coordinate many people's actions (you know, like a movement), communication shows it's limits. Most ideas and actions are shaped by each person background (which is pretty unique and can't be shared).

When people share ideas, and agree on a lot of things, usually the strengh and quality of support is different for each person (gradient) and when you want to take action, that difference is revealed.

It's very, very easy to make examples of many words or ideas where people all agree, but the moment you measure or compare those things to other things to take lots of actions over time, agreement falls apart.

History is very, very rich and has showed that this limitation can't be undone.

Success in overcoming this limitation will come, but from other sources.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 12:14 PM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
Yeah, I agree that human communication is limited if transmission is the ideal, which is sometimes the case. We wouldn’t be very efficient ants, or robots for that matter. Lyckily we are neither ants nor robots. Or unfortunately, depending on preferences or mood, I guess. Or situation, perhaps. And I agree that it’s not effective for sharing meditative insights or experiences either, because our language is based on concepts, which are always a poor translation. But sure, it can be very frustrating to communicate with people. Indeed. In many cases, I think social interaction would be so much smoother if people were to assume less and explore more. In urgent situations pressed for time there isn’t much time for exploration, of course. In such situations we need to have an established agreement on certain signals and contextual understandings.

Exactly how do you propose that humanity will overcome the limitations of communication? What kinds of situations are you talking about, and what means?

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 1:26 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

Exactly how do you propose that humanity will overcome the limitations of communication? What kinds of situations are you talking about, and what means?


For me, there are two roads, one that we can use right now and another that we can't.

The first is just reading, watching, comparing, etc a lot (with lots of information). Getting very good at doing these things. There is a lot of information in the subtleties.

For example, if you have a post saying that a person had "stream entry".
Based on that post alone, maybe you can't be sure if he/she got SE. But with 10, 100, 1000 posts, some videos, etc, you can get a pretty good idea.

The same with books. You read one, two, three, 10, 100 different books on meditation, eventually you get the idea of what can be accomplished and how.
Repetition also works (like Daniel's video repeating again and again what is AP).
Also, there is some "weighting". Basically, you put more weight to books or posts or people that you think know what they are talking about.
Weighting is very difficult to do.
So, basically, tons (really tons) of information with lots of repetition.

The basic problem with this approach: it takes a lot (a lot) of time and effort. And still it's not perfect. Different people reading 1000 posts about about a person can get to different conclusions about SE.
It's also personal, once you read a 100 books on meditation, you get a clear picture, but you can't transfer what you know (other than telling him/her) to read those books.
The same with practice. With a lots of hours of practice, you get a clear picture of what practice is, but again, it's personal and can't be transfered.

So, this approach is for each one of us, to get the world to communicate with us and build an idea about something.
We can do this now because of the internet (before internet information was scarce).

The automation of this approach is simple, a machine that reads all the books, and, by reading what you post, your photos, your history, etc, build your "ideas", etc.
Machines can read text and view video a lot faster than we can.

The second approach is by sensing what's happening in our heads when we meditate, think, etc. Literally, neuron activity.
Coupled with some sensors of heart rate, pulse, movement, endorphins, etc.
This approach is the most accurate, but it is some years away.

To sum it up, we don't need a Unified theory of meditation. There are lots of them for us to read, analyze, try (practice) and build our own.
It does require a lot of effort though (a lot).

Or we can wait for technology on the second approach (mind reading) or the extension of the first (a machine that reads and understands and, by reading all books, all posts, viewing all videos on meditation) can build a unified theory of meditation.
They are some years away (not so many as people think as progress is exponencial).

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 4:18 PM as a reply to Ernest Michael Olmos.
Thanks for your thorough reply! I appreciate it. I totally agree about the first road. That’s basically what I do, and I enjoy the process. With headphones and an ipad I can listen to dharma talks while doing chores and travelling to work and taking a walk. And the investigation is free. The journey is the goal. That being said, resources like MCTB2 make the journey a lot easier, and I appreciate that immensely. I don’t have the competence to navigate among all the original resources.

When it comes to technological mindreading, on the other hand, I’m very sceptical. Thoughts are not neatly packaged somewhere, ready to be transported. They are entire systems of processes occurring all over the place. If I were to guess, I’d say it’s probably more likely that the practice may occasionally lead to (analog) mindreading (tapping into something more collective, less finite) than mindreading leading to stream entry.

It would indeed be interesting to see what an AI would do with the information from all those resources (although I’m not sure we would like the result), but I doubt that it would be able to translate it into something that does the trick for human beings. I would guess that we would still need to make the journey on our own to make sense of it and to construct something that we can relate to.

These are just my guesses, though.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 4:54 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I'm replying to this post just because it's at the bottom of the page.

Here's my universal theory:

You expose 1000 people to the same mildly complex/interesting event and ask them to clump up into groups that noticed the same thing. You get a bunch of different groups!

You ask each group that noticed the same thing and they will all report different subjective internal experiences, even though they noticed the same thing.

You ask a bunch of people who *did* have similar subjective experiences what they should do about it, what action they should take and you'll get lots of different answers.

You find a bunch of people that would do a similar external responses on the world and we see that the world responded to *them* each differently.

This thread is one of a zillion examples of this: everyone has different nature/nurture so everybody thinks/feels differently and gets different treatment.

So, I feel that it is skillful and suffer-minimizing to expect disagreement and make room for that.

Sorry for being obvious.

RE: The Absurdity of Sect and a Unified theory of Meditation
Answer
5/3/19 4:55 PM as a reply to Matt.
Well said.