New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 3180 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
The Varieties of Contemplative Experience project at Brown University has done it again, building on their previous article to come out with remarkable gem. I can barely express how important I think this article is and how thankful I am for their good work. May much more follow in this vein.

While one used to the familiarity and open debates and discussions we find in the better end of Pragmatic Dharma might not find this as amazing as I find it, this article is a part of a friggin' groundbreaking revolution from a scientific literature point of view and a massive and needed step towards a better science of how to handle challenging meditation experiences clinically:

Progress or Pathology? Differential Diagnosis and Intervention Criteria for Meditation-Related Challenges: Perspectives From Buddhist Meditation Teachers and Practitioners


Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 2460 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
This is really the state of the art on the academic frontier of meditation-related work. It is hard, as a meditation-related difficulties specialist (from the suffering side mainly) to not dwell on the giant holes in the "safety net", i.e., the fact that is neither safe nor really a net, more like a few lifelines dangling near the abyss. But it is not nothing, and it is a giant leap ahead of the denial and blindness that has characterized both the sellers and buyers of meditation, much less the academics, who have too often tried to prove that five minutes of some little practice ups some arbitrary little quality that will make us better serfs or something. This is substantial study, and offers a broad array of points of engagement for further work in the same vein. God bless Dr. Britton and her colleagues, and the folks at Cheetah House, and everyone else working along these lines.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Did you send Analayo a copy?
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 3180 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Ah, humor.

No doubt those who employ BA to their ends will soon enough if they haven't already, as this is an active conflict with very engaged players on both sides, and vastly more on theirs. He should be on rains retreat now, but it would be quite surprising, given his recent sustained campaign on the issue if he didn't have something to say in response at some point.
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 2460 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
Did you send Analayo a copy?

inside info. Spill, Bagpuss.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 2460 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:


hey Bagpuss,

Ahhhh. That guy. I'm still not going to pay $39 to read his shit. And I don't give a fuck what he thinks, about this academic stuff or any other fucking thing. God bless him.

thanks for the info, amigo. Nice to know i can ignore that shit all over again.

love, tim
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Mark Boolootian, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 14 Join Date: 6/26/11 Recent Posts
Said Tim:  I'm still not going to pay $39 to read his shit.

While you may still not want to read it, it isn't necessary to spend money to do so:

https://rdcu.be/b4aDZ
Tim Farrington, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 2460 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Mark Boolootian:
Said Tim:  I'm still not going to pay $39 to read his shit.

While you may still not want to read it, it isn't necessary to spend money to do so:

https://rdcu.be/b4aDZ
Thank you, Mark!

You're a fellow member of the class of 2011, I see! We really need to have that reunion and get some cool t-shirts.

best, tim
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Mark Boolootian, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 14 Join Date: 6/26/11 Recent Posts
You're a fellow member of the class of 2011, I see! We really need to have that reunion and get some cool t-shirts.

Indeed, though perhaps a slightly less frequent poster.
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Griffin, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 142 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Did Daniel publish his response? I couldn't find it.
A. DIetrich Ringle, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 680 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
What are we supposed to do when we get broken bones. Doesn't that flush the dharma right down the drain? At least we can still drink alcohol.
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Ni Nurta, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 659 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
A. DIetrich Ringle:
What are we supposed to do when we get broken bones. Doesn't that flush the dharma right down the drain? At least we can still drink alcohol.

Call the medics and in the meantime investigate suffering aspect of sensations while continuously noting "pain"? emoticon
Ben Sulsky, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 118 Join Date: 11/5/19 Recent Posts
Aside from my annoyance with academic writing in general that made it a pain to read, this was a very nice and fair article.  Why do we need to make all the words so long?

One obvious issue is that the normative standards for psychology versus religious practices are different.  Psychology tends to value persons who express positive emotions and satisfaction with their life and can resiliently deal with all the conventional shit life throws at them, and who excel at the society's standards of success.  Mystics often act like crazy people.  So, with psychology's recent infatuation with meditation, some meditation practice in the deeper end of the pool tend to produce outcomes that stretch psychology's normative standards.  Practitioners and teachers tend to share some normative standards from both meditation and psychology and when these two are in conflict it hurts a lot and people are apt to behave, errr, unskillfully.    

I wish people would be more open that meditation is a dangerous game.  You're in there purposely tinkering with some really deep seated brain processes, and it doesn't always go well.  I don't think there's any guarantee that moving from the conventional mode of perception to a meditation facilitated mode of perception will go as planned, and you might just break your brain which negatively effects yourself and others.  I think starting from a model of harm avoidance as opposed to swing for the fences at enlightenment might be a good idea.  Like, can we talk about dosage?  Is it necessarily better to have THE MOST INTENSE A&P EVER!?  Let's borrow the methodological framework from medicine with the desired impact from meditation.  So say we want to intervene to produce the A&P and the practitioner and teacher both agree this is a good idea for whatever reason.  So then the intervention is to do fast noting in the abdomen at increasing rates of speed and increasing dosages (amount of time per day) such that the A&P happens.  The A&P is seen to be important because of its functional character of producing the next stages on the progress of insight, fine.  It seems like maybe the minimum dose of fast noting to produce the A&P in a reasonable timeframe is sufficient and even optimal.  It definitely seems like the ride might not be as bumpy and the practioner would be less likely to end up in a rough psychological place on 2hours/day of fast noting with some breaks as opposed to 12.  Of course in practice it would depend on the teacher and practioner and their needs.  The point being that moar isn't always better and I hope we'll be kind to our brains while still making steady progress.  

It seems reasonable to question the assumption that increased dosage of meditation leads linearly (or even positively) to better progress of insight outcomes.  Exercise is a decent analogy.  None of it is bad, increasing levels of it is good, and then in excess it becomes dangerous.  In other words, the exercise curve is non linear and the highest dosage ends of the curve lead to disaster -- while dosages at the very high end but not totally whacky end lead to excellence.  I don't think meditation and exercise are particularly alike, but I do think it's important to take the same attitude phenomenally in our own practice.  If continued mega high dosage starts to feel dangerous, maybe back off.  Being kind to ourselves just seems kind of underrated.
A. DIetrich Ringle, modified 9 Months ago.

RE: New VCE Study: Progress vs Pathology, very worth reading

Posts: 680 Join Date: 12/4/11 Recent Posts
The person who want's the best and biggest A&P ever will probably only want that for as long as it is the cutting edge.

Edit, when dharma falls out of popularity!

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