Should I stop?

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R, modified 11 Months ago.

Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Hi all--

I've gotten a lot out of MCTB, and I've come to a point in my practice I don't know how to handle, so it seemed like this was the place to go for advice.

My practice is idiosyncratic and my theoretical knowledge is minimal, to the point that I don't know where I am relative to maps.  I definitely feel like pieces of the Dark Night, even up to Re-observation and Equanimity, fit with my experience, and yet I've never had any experiences that seem to fit with the A&P, so plausibly I could be anywhere.  That said, recently I've hit a point that has me cautiously optimistic.  It seems like I've figured out how to methodically make progress, to the point where issues appear genuinely resolved.

I'll go into more detail below, but once I tested this method a bit and it seemed solid--as far as I can tell, progress with it is consistent, unlimited, and very thorough--I realized that for all I know, I might have found a tool that'll very quickly take me all the way to stream entry.  This certainly strikes me as overconfident, but since it may well be a possibility, I then thought: well, if that's the case, is there anything I should do before diving all the way in until I get to wherever I can get? My thinking is: if I really have landed on a reliable method, and if it really will get me into some extremely positive states...is there value in documenting or recording what's happening to me, and what I'm doing?  I feel like if I really am able to get somewhere, the largest thing I'm going to want going forward is to be able to share it with other people; and the best way of doing that would, I'm guessing, be to more and better research data that people can use to design teaching methods.

So, my question is: if I really *am* likely to proceed forward, possibly extremely far...should I pause where I'm at, and hop into an MRI somewhere while I do the next stages of that work?

Thank you all for fielding this, especially if it turns out to be a wild goose chase.  I'm very aware that I may be nowhere like in danger of this degree of insight; or even if I am, that the stage I'm at may be bog standard and in no way meriting special research expertise/equipment.  Here's a clarification of exactly where I'm at, so you folks can let me know how deluded I am--or, on the off chance that I'm not blowing this out of proportion, can give me advice on where to go/who to talk to next.

- - -

So, the point I’ve reached in my practice is that I seem to have realized how to progress in a manner I can actually...control?  I can’t make myself feel x or y, but I seem to be able to deduce the right response to whatever step I’m on, and it’s just working in a way it really hasn’t before.

My practice, roughly, has been comprised of 1) noticing what I feel at a given moment, and then 2) figuring out what in the hell to do in response to those feelings, with the assumption that the “correct” action is going to lead suffering to be resolved rather than continued/increased.  For most of it I’ve had foggy ideas of what to do; over the past few months it got more clear, but individual steps were still trial and error blindfolded; and over the past few weeks it’s like I’ve dropped the blindfold and acquired a reliable method.

So where I’m at now is:
- Moment to moment I’m suffering a lot less than usual, but still quite saliently.  And as my language suggests, there’s still a sense of self.
- When I sit down to...meditate? introspect? I immediately remember two things: that there’s no need to effortfully do anything, and that all the things I feel can listened to rather than resisted, if I notice them as useful information, rather than anticipate them as threats to flee.
- Once that realization settles in, I start noticing piece by piece where suffering is happening in my experience.  For each piece, I see it in light of those realizations (1 - no need to put effort towards external things, and 2 - internal sensations no longer trigger effort once they’re heard properly), and then either the suffering drops, or I notice that I don’t yet see how to “listen to” that particular thing.
- In the second case, I become gently but sustainedly interested in what I’m missing; I move on to the next piece, while primed to notice at any moment how to drop the previous one.  There end up being a number of pieces “queued” at once, but this actually feels almost as much of a relief as resolving them, since the info I’m missing reliably pops up within a few hours.

As best I can tell, continuing this way is just going to lead to any and every piece of suffering getting dropped, and to the lack of suffering being persistent.  That would seem to indicate a high state, so I'm pretty damn skeptical despite my optimism.

That all said:

helllllllllllllllppppp emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Welcome to DhO.

Why do you think you have stumbled on something new?
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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Thanks Chris emoticon

And sorry to be unclear: I'm sure the place I'm at isn't new, whatever it is.  I don't even know if it's a terribly interesting point to be at--I've got enough reason to hope and think that maybe I'm about to make some large mental shifts, but I definitely don't have good enough reason to be sure of that.

But since it does at least seem like a solid possibility that I'm about to make some major progress, it made me wonder how often people in this state pause, go to a lab or something, and get the whole before>during>after process recorded/analyzed in some detail.  It seemed like maybe that wouldn't happen frequently.

And it *does* seem to me that studying these states in detail would be important.  So if in fact 1) I really am at or near a state that's valuable to understand, and 2) there's data that could be recorded here, that would be genuinely useful for research and not just superfluous, it seemed important to find out.

So, definitely nothing new, but possibly somewhere that hasn't yet been recorded thoroughly ad nauseum.  And very possibly not!  But it seems important to find out, as I would strongly regret wasting an unrecoverable opportunity and then finding out later it was actually super valuable.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
But since it does at least seem like a solid possibility that I'm about to make some major progress...

Sorry to ask so many questions, but why do you say this?

BTW - my original question was aimed at your method, not at your self-diagnosis. It would be nice if we could have a replicable, predictable process that leads inevitably to awakening, but human beings have been at this stuff for millennia and it has yet to happen. Maybe you're The One. Who knows?

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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Oh man, not a problem: digging in with questions can only help.  Also...yeah, I highly doubt I'm doing anything special, I certainly don't have a model of how to reliably go from any person's start point to their end point step by step.

The only reason it seems like I'm able to make large progress is that there tends to be a pattern in my experiences so far:

1) Have an insight
2) Realize that it applies to a certain set of problems
3) Go and apply it.

So, at one point I realized that trying to push myself to practice more often was actually triggering my own defenses against practicing.  I realized that if I stopped acting on that push, I'd probably chill out and be able to practice way more easily, and therefore more often.  I then did the first thing, and the second thing happened.

Since this whole insight>expected utility>action cycle has happened often for me, it seems likely that it'll keep working.  Certainly not likely enough for me to confidently state "oh hey, I'm guaranteed to get major attainments now", but certainly likely enough for me to see large, nearby progress as a possibility worth floating, whereas until now I've had no reason to think it was particularly likely.

Does that answer the question?  And thanks for asking it, I can't thank people enough for offering advice/critique here.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Keep going and periodically update us on how you're doing.
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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Um.  I appreciate the encouragement, and I'll definitely keep everybody posted, but the thing that's bothering me is not being clear on whether pausing is a good idea.

When you said "keep going": was that your answer to my question? and if so, can you help me understand why that's your recommendation?
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Olivier, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Don't pause, is what chris is saying emoticon I would agree.

Have you heard of the four noble truths ? What you're describing is what meditation is about. Very nice that you have this clarity and reflexivity, but it's kind of what is supposed to happen. I strongly encourage you to continue this process with the diligence and heart you have put in to get this far.

On the other hand, there is no way to tell whether we're actually not gonna run into an enormous brick wall tomorrow. You might be right in your assessment, but maybe not.

Either way, do you know how much one MRI scan costs ? Do you have any idea how complicated doing this kind of research is ? The notion that anyone would go through with that, based on the hunch that you're about to make major progress fast is an extremely risky bet. What do you think we would learn from studying your rather normal development that we haven't already learned after thousands of years' worth of practicioners' experience being gathered in collective memory ?

(Edit 2 : hey, sorry if that sounded a bit harsh here, this comment i made about hubris could also be applied to myself and my own grandiosity, so ... Nothing personal..)

Furthermore, the notion that doing brainscans will tell us anything about what happens in experience that we don't already know, is a hot debate, and as for me, my opinion is clear : it's nonsense. People have MRI'd advanced meditators having cessations. But what was the interest of that ? Zero. MRIs have time frame resolution of about 12 seconds, from what I read. I had a recent discussion with a neuroscientist who is also an experiential phenomenologist and hypnotherapist, my future PhD advisor - he also believes that neurophenomenology is a scam. My former master's thesis advisor, previously neuroscientist/cognitive scientist turned gestalt psychologist/semiotic anthropologist told me about as much. You might be interested in Michel Bitbol's work in this regard, it's much more definitive than what I just hinted at...

Anyways. You might want to redirect that enthusiasm towards your practice emoticonemoticon

Edit : Or, if you're really into this idea, contact some people doing research on this topic who might be looking for test subjects...

With metta.
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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
"Don't pause, is what chris is saying emoticon I would agree.

Have you heard of the four noble truths ? What you're describing is what meditation is about. Very nice that you have this clarity and reflexivity, but it's kind of what is supposed to happen. I strongly encourage you to continue this process with the diligence and heart you have put in to get this far.

On the other hand, there is no way to tell whether we're actually not gonna run into an enormous brick wall tomorrow. You might be right in your assessment, but maybe not."

Oh totally agreed: I don't feel like I have any certainty what'll happen next.  But I do want to be prepared in case my current trajectory does go where it seems like it may.

"Either way, do you know how much one MRI scan costs ? Do you have any idea how complicated doing this kind of research is ? The notion that anyone would go through with that, based on the hunch that you're about to make major progress fast is an extremely risky bet. What do you think we would learn from studying your rather normal development that we haven't already learned after thousands of years' worth of practicioners' experience being gathered in collective memory ?


(Edit 2 : hey, sorry if that sounded a bit harsh here, this comment i made about hubris could also be applied to myself and my own grandiosity, so ... Nothing personal..)

Furthermore, the notion that doing brainscans will tell us anything about what happens in experience that we don't already know, is a hot debate, and as for me, my opinion is clear : it's nonsense. People have MRI'd advanced meditators having cessations. But what was the interest of that ? Zero. MRIs have time frame resolution of about 12 seconds, from what I read. I had a recent discussion with a neuroscientist who is also an experiential phenomenologist and hypnotherapist, my future PhD advisor - he also believes that neurophenomenology is a scam. My former master's thesis advisor, previously neuroscientist/cognitive scientist turned gestalt psychologist/semiotic anthropologist told me about as much."

Ok, so that is not at *all* striking me as harsh--I love it, it's exactly the sort of advice I'm after.  (I mean hey: I've been reading MCTB, I *like* direct and unsubtle.)  Given that it's a hot debate, it sounds like some people *would* be strongly in favor--if most people agreed there wasn't value in this, that'd settle the question, but it sounds like there's strong arguments on both sides?

Either way, your opinion and reasoning are *very* useful.  It feels like there's at least no consensus that neuro research *is* super important, so that's a relief.

Thanks so much, and metta right back atcha emoticon
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Olivier, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
Hi (sta)R,

I like your spirit emoticon I'll assume you ar ok with a bunch of information and curious in hearing subtle points. Since I'm taking the time to vebalize all this, I would love to also get the opinion of people on the other side, who abound on this forum I am sure (Chris ?)

First point : I basically don't understand what exactly external measures would add to the actual experiential knowledge communicated verbally ? 

How do we know why such and such areas of the brain correspond with such and such internal events, anyways ? We need, or have needed, someone to introspect that. Simply unavoidable. And then we map things onto the brain based on this introspection. Then assume that the activation of said area is in some way connected with said event. That is my understanding, basic though it may be.

Ok, but what does that teach us that we didn't already know through introspection ? Isn't it necessary that someone reflexively accesses and formulates and communicates what they are experiencing quite precisely, in the first place ? 


Second : What is the brain ?

It's not the pink, dependently originated and empty thing made up of pure phenomenological matter, impressions, which we usually refer to as the brain. How could an appearance be the cause for itself and for all other appearances ? There's an interview of Daniel Ingram with Rob Wright where he talks about that.

The brain, if by brain we understand, the thing which creates all of experience, has to be some entity (at least in the sense of "causale" source) which is transcendant to experience. 

So, to sum up, the brain is :
(1) Unthinkable, devoid of properties that we can conceive
(2) Invisible, transcendant
(3) The creator of all

How is that different from the usual definition of God ? 

This is all not really coherent with buddhist philosophies that I know of, in my opinion. The buddha would classify this matter as "imponderable". I agree. This displaces the whole debate on the relationship between experience and the "brain" from a "scientific", epistemological perhaps, discussion, to the field of, well, basically communication and politics, or something like that, it becomes more of a question of belief, of values, epistemological and otherwise - see point four.

Third : Less extreme : there do seem to be connections between experience and changes happening in the "conventional brain". But the image brought forth by Bergson over a century ago when these questions of the relationship between mind and matter, and particularly mind and brain, still rings true to my ears. Not even approximately correct quote, but the essence is there emoticon "If you have a big machine, and one bolt fucks up, and it stops. Surely there is a connection between the machine and the bolt. But what will studying the molecular structure of the bolt teach us about the machine ?"

Sure, there are probably benefits. Does it justify pouring millions into that and the magical epistemological attractivity of all the neuro stuff ?

My answer is a clear ringing, roaring no.


Fourth : So, I think in the end all this is not so much a matter of "valider" and more trustworthy knowledge which would be brought about through the procedures of the sciences or of rational research, cf Kant, but a question of fashion, legitimacy, social recognition, and power. Neuroscience is fashionable. Research programs and institutions have a positive bias towards them. They rely on heavy technology, and our civilization has a fondness for those.

I recently heard Ingram saying that he thought he could "prove" that cessation exists through using an EEG, which honestly makes me very perplex... I believe this is my chance to use the word : nonplused

There is nothing so particularly interesting or novel about studying the brain, but people in power think so, many scientists think so, and so, if you want to get funded, you better line up. If you want to get recognition from the "legitimate" knowledge producing institutions, that would be a way to do so : just do an mri of the person involved in the subject you're interested in. I suspect this is why daniel ingram is interested in studying EEGs of meditators' brain etc.: trying to get recognition by the scientific institution, of the depth of transformation that can come about through meditative practice, so that ti can become mainstream - NOT to "prove" anything about it. We already know it to be true...

Well, maybe I'm wrong about his motivation, I really don't know and can't speak for this man I don't know personally at all.

In all honesty, my actual viewpoint is mch more radical than all that. We could dive into much broader/deepr issues connected with scientific materialism, cosmology, ethics and values (ie, notions about what is important in this existence, what should be pursued) and all that, 
but I guess this is more than enough for now.

Thoughts ?

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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
*cracks knuckles* Alrighty then.... emoticon

First off, loving the in-depth post: as you figured, very much desired and appreciated.

Going point by point, I'll start with the first.  Now, Chris made a great point that even if the state of the brain is useful info, brain scans are just bad at recording it.  I don't know yet if he's right, but he sounds like he knows what he's talking about.  Still, even if they're *fantastic*, your question as to whether brains give useful info is key.

As far as I can tell, the ways in which areas of the brain have been identified as necessary for physical actions have been pretty thorough.  Although there are exceptions to every rule, things like Broca's and Wernicke's areas seem near-universal, and the demonstrations are pretty simple: holding an electric field generating...thingy...up to those areas produces a reliable, observable change in a person's actions. (If anyone with a neuro background wants to fact check me, I'd appreciate it).

The upshot being: when someone says "I feel/think this", ok, sure: that's useful info.  But if, metaphorically, someone can't walk one day, and can the next, that's major.  Since we know of areas in the brain that can produce specific, repeatable changes in physical actions that are of that magnitude or greater, there's strong reason to be pretty certain that the state of the brain indicates the state of the person, thoroughly.

As to your second point, I'm gonna start by interpreting you to be talking about the mind.  My understanding is that the brain is the pink--well, gray--thingy, and the mind is, to oversimplify, conscious experience.  I'm not at all sure whether we should think of the mind as the generator of experience, or simply the experience that is generated, but either way: the brain is different.  It's hardware, and it's in some way necessary for the interplay between experience and physical reality, from what we can tell based on the sort of experiments I referenced above.  While we don't seem to know whether it's brain changes that cause experiential changes, or vice versa--my money's on it going both ways--we do seem to have trustworthy amounts & kinds of evidence that brain states can indicate experiential states, especially by indicating what states are available to someone.  (E.g.: if certain areas are missing or damaged, you probably can't form words, or move specific body parts, etc.)

So, while analyzing the brain probably won't be a way to understand the fundamental nature of reality and experience, it *does* seem a reliable way to get information about what general experiences a person can have.

Now, in your third point you seem to say this directly; but then you go into your point about the bolt.  I don't think it's entirely accurate to how neuroscience is done: there's interest in bolt-level stuff and there's interest in macro-level, whole-machine stuff, but I don't know of many or any people who would take the approach that your quote parodies.  It's more like the way people study computers: people design circuits, and then put them into boards, and then try to make those boards work together, and then try to make the whole system run programs; if something goes haywire, first the program is checked, then the machinery on a large scale, then perhaps the individual circuits.

On to your fourth point.  I think you're damn right about power and fashion being huge reasons for what people study.  Still, research tends to get powerful and fashionable because it *works* to address concrete problems, or at least seems to.  And given what we do know about brains, studying them seems fruitful in learning how humans work.

So, that's why it seems like participating in studies might be valuable.  I'd definitely be interested in theorizing about materialism and the like--feel free to shoot me a pm or invite me to another thread--but for the purposes of this question I'm gonna treat the idea that brains are useful to analyze as a given; the thing that I'm trying to learn is, does anyone actually do that sort of analysis, and would they consider getting data on me to be useful?

Because if yes to both, then that's info I consider important and worth acting on; and if not, then I can safely get back to what I was doing.
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Olivier, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 731 Join Date: 4/27/19 Recent Posts
[quote=
]The upshot being: when someone says "I feel/think this", ok, sure: that's useful info.  But if, metaphorically, someone can't walk one day, and can the next, that's major.  Since we know of areas in the brain that can produce specific, repeatable changes in physical actions that are of that magnitude or greater, there's strong reason to be pretty certain that the state of the brain indicates the state of the person, thoroughly.

The brain state is not indicative : the person's introspection is. Then, we say : this image on the machine corresponds to that experience.

As to your second point, I'm gonna start by interpreting you to be talking about the mind.  No, I'm talking about the pinkinsh greyish thing called brain. Which is made up of : sight, smells, touch, sensory/mental perception all the way. It is made up of sensations and impressions and "experience" all the way. 

Read this carefully : If physical matter is the ontologically realler and causally primarier source of experience, then, material objects are NOT what we experience, because our experience is NOT physical, but SENSITIVE. The so-called physical objects which are the actual fabric of the real world according to physics are not the things we observe, they are what abstract entities which theories describe and give an image of. As Galileo said, the language of universe is math. So, that means, that the brain, ie, the physical object brain, not the representation we have access to, is inaccessible to sensitivity, and therefore, transcendant, invisible.

Just talking from "inside" the naturalistic sciences, this view has been put under rather heavy strain by quantum physics (well, refuter, really). It's just that scientists have been clinging to more classical notions.

My understanding is that the brain is the pink--well, gray--thingy, and the mind is, to oversimplify, conscious experience.  I'm not at all sure whether we should think of the mind as the generator of experience, or simply the experience that is generated, but either way: the brain is different.  It's hardware, and it's in some way necessary for the interplay between experience and physical reality, from what we can tell based on the sort of experiments I referenced above.  Yes, so you agree with the physicalist worldview. There is a material, physical, "hard" physical reality out there, which is distinct from conscious experience. Please realize that the pinkinsh thing called brain is CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE. The real brain cannot be that. Which implies what I said above. I know it's complex, but think about it. While we don't seem to know whether it's brain changes that cause experiential changes, or vice versa--my money's on it going both ways--we do seem to have trustworthy amounts & kinds of evidence that brain states can indicate experiential states, especially by indicating what states are available to someone.  (E.g.: if certain areas are missing or damaged, you probably can't form words, or move specific body parts, etc.)

So, while analyzing the brain probably won't be a way to understand the fundamental nature of reality and experience, it *does* seem a reliable way to get information about what general experiences a person can have.

Now, in your third point you seem to say this directly; but then you go into your point about the bolt.  I don't think it's entirely accurate to how neuroscience is done: there's interest in bolt-level stuff and there's interest in macro-level, whole-machine stuff, but I don't know of many or any people who would take the approach that your quote parodies.  It's more like the way people study computers: people design circuits, and then put them into boards, and then try to make those boards work together, and then try to make the whole system run programs; if something goes haywire, first the program is checked, then the machinery on a large scale, then perhaps the individual circuits.
I'm talking about the notion that studying the brain will yield new understanding about MEDITATION, which is awareness revealing itself to itself by looking at itself.

On to your fourth point.  I think you're damn right about power and fashion being huge reasons for what people study.  Still, research tends to get powerful and fashionable because it *works* to address concrete problems, or at least seems to.  And given what we do know about brains, studying them seems fruitful in learning how humans work.

So, that's why it seems like participating in studies might be valuable.  I'd definitely be interested in theorizing about materialism and the like--feel free to shoot me a pm or invite me to another thread--but for the purposes of this question I'm gonna treat the idea that brains are useful to analyze as a given; the thing that I'm trying to learn is, does anyone actually do that sort of analysis, and would they consider getting data on me to be useful?

Because if yes to both, then that's info I consider important and worth acting on; and if not, then I can safely get back to what I was doing.

Just send a mail to daniel ingram.
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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
"Just send a mail to daniel ingram."

Yeah, looks like a good idea at this point.

I'm gonna hold off on getting more into the nature-of-reality discussion on this thread, but if you want to start one, or talk over messages, please do hit me up for that emoticon  And thanks again for the deep and thorough replies, can't express my gratitude enough.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
When you said "keep going": was that your answer to my question? and if so, can you help me understand why that's your recommendation?

I meant that you should continue doing what you're doing and see what happens. It's definitely a spiritual practice, a behavioral modification technique, and a way to self-examine. These kinds of activities have power. So keep going and let us know what's happening periodically.


EDIT: I agree with Olivier in the MRI idea as it's not worth the time and money. I was asked more than once to be a test subject in studies using MRI scans of meditators. The "deal" was that I would be scanned once I had:

1. Paid my way to the facility (airfare)
2. Paid for my hotel stay
3. Passed all the qualifying questions - no tattoos, no artificial implants of any kind, was in no way claustrophobic, and so on

Be careful what you ask for emoticon
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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Ah, gotcha.  Chalking two up for "don't bother with brain scans".

Fwiw, the question for me is less "is lab stuff gonna do something *for me*?", and much more "will it actually help with research?".  I honestly don't mind those kind of expenses, and can certainly afford the time; the only factor that matters is whether I have anything actually important to contribute to a study.  If so, it's worth it to me; if not, I'd love to have enough reason to be confident of that, so that it's no longer prudent to be wary.

Thanks again for your advice, if you have more then please do keep it coming.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
"will it actually help with research?"

I doubt it. The power of fMRI is very much misunderstood. The spatial resolution is lower than folks think and it has not thus far revealed anything earth-shattering in the scans of accomplished meditators. Someday, maybe, assuming the technology gets a lot better.

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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Yeah, so this is pretty compelling.  I'll probably need to double check it, but even just hearing it at all tips the scales pretty well against high-res imaging being possible, and therefore against MRI's of any kind being useful.

That said, you mentioned accomplished meditators--and this is actually where my main thought comes in.  I've heard a good deal about advanced meditators having scans done of their brains; I've heard basically nothing about longitudinal studies of people before, during, and after attainments.  If, for the sake of argument, we imagine that I might be able to get somewhere...wouldn't it be useful to have that sort of recorded data?  Because from what I've understood, even if MRIs aren't great at high-res, they're still pretty decent at showing large changes over time.

Also, even if MRIs aren't the thing to focus on, I'd imagine there may be other behavioral, or at least empirical in some way, data that could be collected in a verfiable way.  Otherwise, yeah: I don't think I'd have much new/unusual to offer in the realm of self-reported info.
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Then I think you should go ahead and spend your money on this  emoticon
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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Any idea where/how?
Sleeping Buddha Syndrome, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 680 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
R:
Hi all--

I've gotten a lot out of MCTB, and I've come to a point in my practice I don't know how to handle, so it seemed like this was the place to go for advice.

My practice is idiosyncratic and my theoretical knowledge is minimal, to the point that I don't know where I am relative to maps.  I definitely feel like pieces of the Dark Night, even up to Re-observation and Equanimity, fit with my experience, and yet I've never had any experiences that seem to fit with the A&P, so plausibly I could be anywhere.  That said, recently I've hit a point that has me cautiously optimistic.  It seems like I've figured out how to methodically make progress, to the point where issues appear genuinely resolved.

I'll go into more detail below, but once I tested this method a bit and it seemed solid--as far as I can tell, progress with it is consistent, unlimited, and very thorough--I realized that for all I know, I might have found a tool that'll very quickly take me all the way to stream entry.  This certainly strikes me as overconfident, but since it may well be a possibility, I then thought: well, if that's the case, is there anything I should do before diving all the way in until I get to wherever I can get? My thinking is: if I really have landed on a reliable method, and if it really will get me into some extremely positive states...is there value in documenting or recording what's happening to me, and what I'm doing?  I feel like if I really am able to get somewhere, the largest thing I'm going to want going forward is to be able to share it with other people; and the best way of doing that would, I'm guessing, be to more and better research data that people can use to design teaching methods.

So, my question is: if I really *am* likely to proceed forward, possibly extremely far...should I pause where I'm at, and hop into an MRI somewhere while I do the next stages of that work?

Thank you all for fielding this, especially if it turns out to be a wild goose chase.  I'm very aware that I may be nowhere like in danger of this degree of insight; or even if I am, that the stage I'm at may be bog standard and in no way meriting special research expertise/equipment.  Here's a clarification of exactly where I'm at, so you folks can let me know how deluded I am--or, on the off chance that I'm not blowing this out of proportion, can give me advice on where to go/who to talk to next.

- - -

So, the point I’ve reached in my practice is that I seem to have realized how to progress in a manner I can actually...control?  I can’t make myself feel x or y, but I seem to be able to deduce the right response to whatever step I’m on, and it’s just working in a way it really hasn’t before.

My practice, roughly, has been comprised of 1) noticing what I feel at a given moment, and then 2) figuring out what in the hell to do in response to those feelings, with the assumption that the “correct” action is going to lead suffering to be resolved rather than continued/increased.  For most of it I’ve had foggy ideas of what to do; over the past few months it got more clear, but individual steps were still trial and error blindfolded; and over the past few weeks it’s like I’ve dropped the blindfold and acquired a reliable method.

So where I’m at now is:
- Moment to moment I’m suffering a lot less than usual, but still quite saliently.  And as my language suggests, there’s still a sense of self.
- When I sit down to...meditate? introspect? I immediately remember two things: that there’s no need to effortfully do anything, and that all the things I feel can listened to rather than resisted, if I notice them as useful information, rather than anticipate them as threats to flee.
- Once that realization settles in, I start noticing piece by piece where suffering is happening in my experience.  For each piece, I see it in light of those realizations (1 - no need to put effort towards external things, and 2 - internal sensations no longer trigger effort once they’re heard properly), and then either the suffering drops, or I notice that I don’t yet see how to “listen to” that particular thing.
- In the second case, I become gently but sustainedly interested in what I’m missing; I move on to the next piece, while primed to notice at any moment how to drop the previous one.  There end up being a number of pieces “queued” at once, but this actually feels almost as much of a relief as resolving them, since the info I’m missing reliably pops up within a few hours.

As best I can tell, continuing this way is just going to lead to any and every piece of suffering getting dropped, and to the lack of suffering being persistent.  That would seem to indicate a high state, so I'm pretty damn skeptical despite my optimism.

That all said:

helllllllllllllllppppp emoticon

I have a way of making progress. It's called a weekend. !

Edit: My experience is such that if I was on a renunciate phase where the weekend didn't hold any special appeal. I was in the lower formed jhanas. Sipping on a beer makes much more sense when you are in equanimity. !
J C, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
R:


I don't know where I am relative to maps.  I definitely feel like pieces of the Dark Night, even up to Re-observation and Equanimity, fit with my experience



Three Characteristics nana.



I've never had any experiences that seem to fit with the A&P, so plausibly I could be anywhere. 



Everything you describe below is classic A&P.


That said, recently I've hit a point that has me cautiously optimistic.  It seems like I've figured out how to methodically make progress, to the point where issues appear genuinely resolved.

I'll go into more detail below, but once I tested this method a bit and it seemed solid--as far as I can tell, progress with it is consistent, unlimited, and very thorough--I realized that for all I know, I might have found a tool that'll very quickly take me all the way to stream entry. 



A&P.


the stage I'm at may be bog standard and in no way meriting special research expertise/equipment.


Yes, it's the A&P.



So, the point I’ve reached in my practice is that I seem to have realized how to progress in a manner I can actually...control?  I can’t make myself feel x or y, but I seem to be able to deduce the right response to whatever step I’m on, and it’s just working in a way it really hasn’t before.

My practice, roughly, has been comprised of 1) noticing what I feel at a given moment, and then 2) figuring out what in the hell to do in response to those feelings, with the assumption that the “correct” action is going to lead suffering to be resolved rather than continued/increased.  For most of it I’ve had foggy ideas of what to do; over the past few months it got more clear, but individual steps were still trial and error blindfolded; and over the past few weeks it’s like I’ve dropped the blindfold and acquired a reliable method.

So where I’m at now is:
- Moment to moment I’m suffering a lot less than usual, but still quite saliently.  And as my language suggests, there’s still a sense of self.
- When I sit down to...meditate? introspect? I immediately remember two things: that there’s no need to effortfully do anything, and that all the things I feel can listened to rather than resisted, if I notice them as useful information, rather than anticipate them as threats to flee.
- Once that realization settles in, I start noticing piece by piece where suffering is happening in my experience.  For each piece, I see it in light of those realizations (1 - no need to put effort towards external things, and 2 - internal sensations no longer trigger effort once they’re heard properly), and then either the suffering drops, or I notice that I don’t yet see how to “listen to” that particular thing.
- In the second case, I become gently but sustainedly interested in what I’m missing; I move on to the next piece, while primed to notice at any moment how to drop the previous one.  There end up being a number of pieces “queued” at once, but this actually feels almost as much of a relief as resolving them, since the info I’m missing reliably pops up within a few hours.

As best I can tell, continuing this way is just going to lead to any and every piece of suffering getting dropped, and to the lack of suffering being persistent.  That would seem to indicate a high state, so I'm pretty damn skeptical despite my optimism.



All A&P.

Enjoy and keep noting.
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R, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Should I stop?

Posts: 11 Join Date: 6/3/20 Recent Posts
Deeply appreciate the diagnostic.  Glad to have some plausible idea of where I'm at.