RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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     The sources used to begin this discussion are not easy reading. Like most scientific papers they require a serious intent to understand the language. But I believe that understanding what is discussed in these papers will help a lot of people on this forum to go deeper into their experience of meditation and accelerate their learning.  By restricting the conceptual explanations and targeting the lived experience the meditator can zoom into what produced the experience. This understanding will allow them to not only repeat the experience but transcend it and move on to another step. Of course, this only a preliminary start, and many aspects have to be worked out.

The first paper is, "What is it like to meditate? Methods and issues for a microphenomenological description of meditative experience"

https://clairepetitmengin.fr/onewebmedia/Phenopilot%20paper%20JCS.pdf

https://www.academia.edu/35289636/What_is_it_like_to_meditate_Methods_and_issues_for_a_microphenomenological_description_of_meditative_experience?email_work_card=title

An excerpt:

"To achieve this reorientation of attention it is necessary to guide the interviewed person to describe a singular experience. If you ask her: "What is your experience when you meditate?", it is almost certain that you will obtain a rather general description, corresponding to the meditation instructions she has received, or to the representation she has of her experience. The only chance you have to obtain a better description of what she actually lives is to 1) guide her to describe a particular phase of experience, situated precisely in time and space; 2) bring her back to the singular, concrete experience she is describing each time she moves away from it towards the expression of comments, justifications, explanations and beliefs. Those would correspond not to what she is experiencing but to what she thinks or imagines or believes about her lived experience. Every time the subject uses an abstract term, the interviewer may, for example, restate it in the interrogative form by inviting him to describe the concrete action that underlies this term. For example, if the interviewed subject says: "I adopted an open mode of attention", the interviewer replies: "Take your time to go back to the moment you adopted an open mode of attention... At that moment, how do you open your attention?". The slowing down of the verbal flow, the presence of hesitations and silences, co-verbal gestures, the use of "I" and action verbs are then clues that the subject is not rehearsing received knowledge but is discovering pre-reflective processes."

The other paper is, "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Neurophenomenology – The Case of Studying Self Boundaries With Meditators"

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01680/full

This paper is pretty dense:

This paper is a practical guide to neurophenomenology. Varela’s neurophenomenological research program (NRP) aspires to bridge the gap between, and integrate, first-person (1P) and third-person (3P) approaches to understanding the mind. It does so by suggesting a methodological framework allowing these two irreducible phenomenal domains to relate and reciprocally support the investigation
of one another. While highly appealing theoretically, neurophenomenology invites researchers to a challenging methodological endeavor. Based on our experience with empirical neurophenomenological implementation, we offer practical clarifications and insights learnt along the way. In the first part of the paper, we outline the theoretical principles of the NRP and briefly present the field of 1P research. We
speak to the importance of phenomenological training and outline the utility of cooperating with meditators as skilled participants. We suggest that 1P accounts of subjective experience can be placed on a complexity continuum ranging between thick and thin phenomenology, highlighting the tension and trade-off inherent to the neurophenomenological attempt to naturalize phenomenology. We then outline a typology of bridges, which create mutual constraints between 1P and 3P approaches, and argue for the utility of alternating between the bridges depending on the available experimental resources, domain of interest and level of sought articulation. In the
second part of the paper, we demonstrate how the theory can be put into practice by describing a decade of neurophenomenological studies investigating the sense of self with increasing focus on its embodied, and minimal, aspects. These aspects are
accessed via the dissolution of the sense-of-boundaries, shedding new light on the multi-dimensionality and flexibility of embodied selfhood. We emphasize the evolving neurophenomenological dialogue, showing how consecutive studies, placed differently
on the thin-to-thick 1P continuum, advance the research project by using the bridging principles appropriate for each stage.

Can't say I didn't warn you.  
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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At first I thought this was way over my head but then realised that the answer is 42 ! emoticon Its easy. Hit me with something more complex! emoticon 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Do you mean 42 minutes of consideration or 42 years? emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Angel Roberto Puente:
Do you mean 42 minutes of consideration or 42 years? emoticon

The most important thing in all of this is "knowing where one's towel is" emoticon ... AND ... DON'T PANIC emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Papa Che Dusko:
Angel Roberto Puente:
Do you mean 42 minutes of consideration or 42 years? emoticon

The most important thing in all of this is "knowing where one's towel is" emoticon ... AND ... DON'T PANIC emoticon

 No panic, and never throw the towel. emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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But I believe that understanding what is discussed in these papers will help a lot of people on this forum to go deeper into their experience of meditation and accelerate their learning.  By restricting the conceptual explanations and targeting the lived experience the meditator can zoom into what produced the experience. 

Will the articles reconcile these two sentences for us?
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
But I believe that understanding what is discussed in these papers will help a lot of people on this forum to go deeper into their experience of meditation and accelerate their learning.  By restricting the conceptual explanations and targeting the lived experience the meditator can zoom into what produced the experience. 

Will the articles reconcile these two sentences for us?
They should.  Reading the articles will provide an understanding of the method and what is known so far.  This can lead to the effort on the part of the meditators to restrict conceptual explanations of their lived experience.  I hope this makes my sentence construction clearer. 
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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This can lead to the effort on the part of the meditators to restrict conceptual explanations of their lived experience.

The Holy Grail of the DhO - a commonly understood (and used) language to communicate one's internal experience to others  emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Chris Marti:
This can lead to the effort on the part of the meditators to restrict conceptual explanations of their lived experience.

The Holy Grail of the DhO - a commonly understood (and used) language to communicate one's internal experience to others  emoticon
Yes, extracted from direct experience and in the Hitchhikers article, what they are attempting, using a tradition almost everybody here knows:


"Proof-of-Concept (Building the First Bridges)
The working basis for the study’s design was the assumption
that long-term Buddhist-oriented mindfulness meditators would
be able to produce and hold, volitionally and on demand,
certain states pertaining to the self and its dissolution. This
assumption was partly based on a preliminary pilot study,
which reported two cases of altered states spontaneously
occurring during meditation in two proficient practitioners
(Berkovich-Ohana, 2015). These states of self dissolution are
not uncommon occurrence for insight meditation practitioners
and are considered the culmination of mindfulness-induced
stages of consciousness. They are characterized by little-to no
conceptual thought and a disintegration of the ordinary
subject-object intentional structure of consciousness, which is
usually centered on the embodied sense of self. In the Buddhist
tradition, these states are deemed highly valuable as they lead
to important insights and realizations: “This comprehension
of an object noticed, as being impermanent, painful, and without a self (impersonal) [....],
by means of simply noticing, without reflecting and reasoning, is called “knowledge by
comprehension through direct experience” (Sayadaw, 1964, pp.
10–11; Shulman, 2014).” 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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     I know that not many people are into reading scientific papers.  Of those that are, many of whom are eminently qualified, I hope they will consider the benefits of this line of study for the online sangha.  Although the current focus is in the setting of an interviewer and a subject, I believe the basic principles can be applied by the practitioner as self-help.  This is an area that has to be developed. 
     When accounts of practice and experiences are posted, what comes across is mainly a conceptual account of what the practitioner believes they have experienced according to whatever map they are following. This is not helpful for the meditator or the reader who is trying to make sense of it. 
     "The Micro Phenomenological Interview attempts to guide insight into the lived experience of the meditator using questions empty of content - limited to drawing the subject's attention to the various moments of the experience without suggesting any content.  It questions the verbs of action, eg.,
(Subject) At that moment the thought I had in my head vanished. 
(Interviewer) How did it vanish? Was it instantaneous or gradual?
(S) It was very quick, but it never the less took a moment.
(I) And what happened during this moment?
(S) (silence)  I loosen, I loosen the tension on that thought
(I) And when you loosen attention on that thought, what do you loosen?
(S) In fact I loosen a light tension in my head.
(I) Where exactly is this light tension in your head?
The interviewer stabilizes attention and retrieves or evokes the original experience. This loosens the grasp on the what in order to let the how to appear.  Instead of splitting in two to look, digging out and enlarging the experience".  
    Even a basic understanding of these concepts can help the practitioner "stay real", instead of spinning into explanations or suppositions, describing closely the experience as it occurred.  This will take discipline and honesty but the rewards in understanding are worthwhile. 
 
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Good luck with this effort, good sir.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Chris Marti:
Good luck with this effort, good sir.

Thank you.  Thus have I heard, the only wasted effort is that which was not done
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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I followed a reference Daniel Ingram gave in the video at the Embodiment Conference.  I emailed the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium,  https://theeprc.org/#top after I read the part in their white paper on Emergent Phenomena, to my surprise, Daniel responded. He said that they were using the micro-phenomenological interview. let's see what develops.  I mentioned your skepticism Chris Marti. Yes, I tattle telled.  Papa Che, 42, 42 !!!
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Skepticism is the root of sanity emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Chris Marti:
Skepticism is the root of sanity emoticon

     I read this and had an image of Little Red Riding Hood saying to the wolf, "What deep skeptical roots you have! and the wolf replying, " The better to be sane with".  Just my imagination! emoticon  Anyway, let me share some of my skepticism. 
     I read the use of terms here, that have the intention to explain some kind of experience, but really say nothing except in imaginary visions like the one I had.  I am perplexed to hear I turned on, or off, my default mode network. Let's define the term: The default mode network (sometimes called simply the default network refers to an interconnected group of brain structures that are hypothesized to be part of a functional system. The default network is a relatively recent concept, and because of this there is not yet a complete consensus on which brain regions should be included in a definition of it. Regardless, some structures that are generally included are the medialprefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and the inferior parietal lobule. A few of the other structures that may be considered part of the network are the lateral temporal cortexhippocampal formation, and the precuneus."  https://www.neuroscientificallychallenged.com/blog/know-your-brain-default-mode-network

     Although there are some people on this forum that claim to enter the recesses of their brain, I am skeptical of this. Must be those roots. Whatever scientific data has been collected on the function of the default network has been obtained by neuroimaging in which the base state used, was the resting state.  There is still no consensus on what all this means in terms of what produces more activity or less activity.  My question is, How can anybody know if what they are doing is affecting or is mediated by the default network? 

    I think we can come up with a more precise way of describing lived experience. Just for the sake of sanity.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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How can anybody know if what they are doing is affecting or is mediated by the default network? 

No one knows. I share your skepticism on this. We know such a tiny bit about how the brain works we know almost nothing. We can't actually define consciousness, let alone explain it. Neuro-imaging (fMRI) is fraught with potential error and may not even measure what we would call "brain function" at all, but rather blood flow. Is blood flow equivalent to mental states or mental processing? Hmm, maybe, maybe not. It's all conceptual. Stories to tell the nice people who want answers, but that may or may not be accurate.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Angel Roberto Puente:
I followed a reference Daniel Ingram gave in the video at the Embodiment Conference.  I emailed the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium, [url=] https://theeprc.org/#top after I read the part in their white paper on Emergent Phenomena, to my surprise, Daniel responded. He said that they were using the micro-phenomenological interview. let's see what develops.  I mentioned your skepticism Chris Marti. Yes, I tattle telled.  Papa Che, 42, 42 !!!

In reading the part about micro-phenomenology, I thought to myself that it sounds exactly like what Daniel and the rest of the consortium would do, although I haven't kept myself updated about their progress (they sure are a hard-working bunch of people - I'm too prone to burnouts to afford to keep reading all their ongoing conversations right now). The limited knowledge both about the brain and about consciousness - and about how they are related - sure is a tough challenge. The micro-phenomenological interview approach is the best shot we have from the other end, though. That is great methodology. I'm very pleased to hear about it. It has ecological validity, unlike most other possible approaches. That part holds its end of the bargain. It can still be applied in combination with other methods of investigating the brain that may be developed in the future.

I doubt that we can ever scientifically investigate consciousness per se. My guess is that we can only operate within it, according to the logic that it allows, which sets the limits for science, but I really don't know. Anyhow, Newton's physics only works within certain given parameters, as it fails to recognize a larger complexity, but it's still useful for lots of purposes. This can be too. 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Glad we could skepticalize Chris, (new term from the Sceptical Minds band). 

     Back to my quest for a precise way of describing lived experience.  From https://www.microphenomenology.com/home:

"Micro-phenomenology is a new scientific discipline that enables us to explore our lived experience very finely: what's happening when an idea comes to us? When suddenly a childhood memory comes back? When we feel sad, or on the contrary elated? When we enter a forest, listen to a piece of music, or taste a good wine? When we read a novel, or write a letter? These phenomena, which constitute the very texture of our existence, are difficult to describe and have thus far been excluded from scientific investigation. But recent research shows that we can learn to describe our experience very accurately and reliably, and discover its ordinarily inaccessible dimensions, through appropriate methods."

     On the page above there is a video, Elephants, that gives an idea of the technique. It has subtitles because it's in French. It may be boring if you're expecting a TicTok. But if you want to understand a little more, put yourself in the place of the subject and do the exercise.  Then try it with a couple of minutes of your meditation experience. I hope a protocol for self-help is developed or maybe a precise method for two people to help each other like in the Focusing technique.  

 

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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Hi Angel,

I know these references for having worked on them for my memoir and now starting a PhD project about contemplative practices using, probably, an interview method based on micophenomenology to get some info about the long term changes in the experience of advanced meditators from different traditions.

Michel Bitbol, who is a main co-author of the article you mention, is part of my PhD committee that i'm starting this year. I'm probably gonna train in Microphenomenology with C. Petitmengin, although she's retired now, so I'm not sure it will be her who does that.

(((((As you seem interested in all that, if you can read french, I suggest reading Bitbol's book "Does consciousness have an origin ?", it's not translated that I'm aware of. He draws parallels between phenomenological practice (épochè and transcendental reduction and contemplative practices including vipassana, shamatha, and open awareness stuff, and argues that it would be smart to consider them as forms of phenomenological reduction rather than the other way around.))))

Anyways, here's my take on this - hope it doesn't sound too blunt , nothing personal.

These methods don't add much, if anything, to actually meditating. Nor does neurophenomenology (Bitbol thinks neurophenomenology doesn't add anything to introspection. Neither does my adviso Jean VionDury who is a career neurophysiologist. That's from a fundamental, transcendental epistemological POV, we might say, as in : it's principally impossible, because of epistemological reasons, that studying the brain will add understanding about what happens in meditation, because meditation is not happening in the same domain as any conceptual construction ; "the small mind can't explain the big mind". Furthermore, even within the epistemological framework and assumptions of neurophysiology, fMRIs, as chris pointed out, are not precise tools at all...)

The reason people are inventing methods like "microphenomenology" or neurophenomenology to study metditation is, rather, to try to find ways to get these topics inside the range of mainstream science, which is dominated by certain epistemological values and rejects anything which cannot be objectified in scientific terms. Plus, technology is impressive and cool, etc.

Sad but true.

A lot of research, actually, most academic research, is based on where the money is. These days, you have 10 times more chance of getting some money to do research, if you plan to use MRI's and the like. Most professional researchers spend more time trying to get grants to do their work, than actually researching. ...

Try to get a grant from Mind and life to do research on contemplative practice : most are attributed to people doing neurophenomenology. Because, tada ! The founder of M&L is Varela, who invented the neurophenomenology thing, and managed to become influential and attract investors, prompting, ... etc. The first paper you mention was funded by M&L, actually.

It's all about the dough, my brother. And politics. Although the intentions are certainly honorable. But it's about the dough and the general landscape of academic research...

I mean... Most research on meditation is on MBSR. Mindfulness is JKZ's private brand. This guy is worth 45 millions last time I checked for having rebranded the Satipatthana sutta for his own benefit. Pretty clever ;)

Also, these guys are not awake, for the most part. I don't know about Bitbol, he seems very deep, but for having discussed over lunch with him, and for other reasons, I'm not sure he's as advanced as many people on this forum and beyond, although he's definitely brilliant and somehow illuminated.

So, I suspect that what daniel is trying to do with these projects, although I can't be sure, is just to help make all this mainstream, using the dominant worldviews and truth-values of the culture of the day, in a characteristically pragmatic fashion... I hope, at least emoticon

I suspect that, because these are precisely the reasons why I'm chosing these methods in my PhD project : (1) More chance of getting money if I use a method validated by the scientific community (it sounds more serious to the guys in charge emoticon) (2) This as a doorway to get the deeper end of these topics into the public arena. 

But I have absolutely zero expectation that this adds much to actually practicing and reading the old texts and honestly, I think it's a pain in the ass that we have to go through this kind of thinking, but hey.... 

edit : The benefit, in my eyes, is pedagogical, ie., the wise have always said the same thing, but they always had to find new ways of communicating it with their peers. (!! inflated ego alert !!)

Also I don't have much hope that it will have a lot of impact... I think the important stuff happens outside these institutions... and that this will be the trend in the coming decades, more and more. For instance, the DhO is perhaps making more for the advancement of meditation than all the M&L research put together. I would bet my money on that, anyways emoticon

Last point, which I submit to your appreciation :

Could this be what the buddhas and jesuses did in their time : adapt and present their insights to fit the worldviews and values of the culture and time they were born in ?

What is the dominant worldview these days, at least for the minority of the world population which is not religious, but has all the academic capital, if we can put it that way ?

I leave this over to you for pondering.

Kind regards,

Olivier.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Cool, Olivier! I basically agree with your take on it. I don't think research with revolutionize meditation, but I hope Daniel succeeds in opening the medical world to the possibility that some symptoms need to be approached with meditation, as they are related to the PoI, and in finding ways to improve resources for helping people with these difficult experiences. 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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     I had mentioned that there were people on this forum "eminently qualified" to contribute to the subject. Thank you for joining the discussion.  I follow your inside view of the politics involved in all the meditation research. I like to hear both sides of an argument, so I had watched a YouTube by Davood Gozli that is critical of the interview along the same lines you speak of.  Like you, I don't think the interview method adds anything to actual meditation.  What I would like to see is a way of directly describing, and therefore understanding the experience of meditation, that is more precise and less prone to conceptualization. I am not fixated on any method or trying to win the argument. Winning is one of the newest fetters.
    It is true that poetry has always been the main way to talk about the incomprehensible experience of the annihilation of the self. But although it may fulfill the purpose of saying something, it is prone to many interpretations, and in the end may say nothing. Any person that has visited the vastness, (my poetry) knows that you can become a mute or a babbler of incoherence. But of everyday practice, much can be said, and the prospect of going beyond worldviews, traditions, lineages, and other constraints on our present experience has whetted my curiosity.  I'm hoping other people are curious too.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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No competition being pursued on my side Angel, no worries. I try to not compete, so I will be blameless, as per the Tao te king, however I must humbly recognize that some argumentative tendencies remain in this heart and spirit of mine... And it's hard to not be competitive, because that's the societal incentive, isn't it ?

Pragmatically, I think the main effect papers like that have is to change the perception that the people who might read such papers have about meditation practice.

That's a worthy goal in my view. It's akin to a demystification process. Let me be a bit controversial : Do hardcore scientists deserve the demystification, though ? After all, Jesus said that we should not give pearls to pigs. Hehe.

I'm joking emoticon. But there are many ways to go about demystifying things, aren't there ? One exemple would be : becoming a true example for others through our actions in this world... 

Write poetry or novels about our awakening process. Compose music from a truly alive place. Live a simple and dignified life.

In the end, practice is what matters, but I guess there could be benefits in precise discussion of phenomenology, like we're doing here. After all, that's the principle behind psychotherapy and a lot of philosophical practices.

It's funny, it makes me think of this thing I heard the Jesuist priest/head econonomist of the french agency for economic development Gaël Giraud recently say in an interview : "I am not transparent to myself, and I carry a life-desire within me, and I need others to help me know what that is and stay true to it." That, according to him, is the meaning of the vow of obedience. 

Good luck with your endeavor. I share your interest. But as Chris said : language will never transmit experience. It points to something... 

Cheers
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Nothing wrong with arguments.  It's the spice of life!  What would marriage be without arguments? emoticon Friendly ones of course. Like you mentioned, many times "we are not transparent to ourselves".  I was just watching a conference by Bitbol. I think the problem of consciousness is a tough bone to chew on by science. Nothing can be said about something that has no characteristics.  Language has its limitations obviously, but there is language the clarifies and language that obfuscates. F...Screw the scientists, this is for the practitioners. Of course, there are many ways of manifesting or demystifying things.  All the ways you mention are actually extensions of practice. Acting in the marketplace is the proof of the pudding.  
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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In the end, practice is what matters, but I guess there could be benefits in precise discussion of phenomenology, like we're doing here. After all, that's the principle behind psychotherapy and a lot of philosophical practices.

I've learned that spiritual occurrences can be described in lots and lots of different ways, using different words. But... for some of these experiences, it appears that no matter the language used, the essence of the experience shines through to another who shares it. It would be interesting to study that phenomenon in some way. It's noticeable here on DhO when members discuss their experiences, especially when the subject of the discussion is a large change in the person's view, such as a path moment. This may be similar to what some forms of Buddhism call "transmission." It's like the Buddha, a flower and Mahakyashapa on Vulture's Peak.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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Yes, definitely. Very interesting phenomenon... I starting thinking about it reading Huang Po's Transmission of mind book.

Isn't the fundamental mystery, though, just the very fact that we can simply know what other people experience, and understand one another ?

In the exemple of path moments you give, it seems to simply be a matter of two people recognizing a common experience when the other is speaking. But essentially, the same phenomenon happens when we're talking about the color red. A blind guy doesn't understand what we're on about until he gets surgery and then : oh gosh ! You could try all you want to explain to them before : they didn't have the experience... But the thing with path moments is, probably, that the experiences are less commonly shared, and so, lone realized souls pick up on each other when they're in contact :p

I think a lot of smart guys have thought about this before, and that this is what classical philosophy called "communication of consciousnesses". Interestingly a quick search directs me towards a couple of guys who've been sparking my curiosity and interest from afar lately : Plotinus and Augustine. Two theories : about the relationship of individual soulds to the Universal sould VS the relationship with the internal Master. I'm sure we could get a lot of interesting perspectives there. 

edited a few times
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Isn't the fundamental mystery, though, just the very fact that we can simply know what other people experience, and understand one another ?

Yep, it is.

I'm glad you picked up on the similarity of experience being not a dharma phenomenon but a more universal phenomenon. I think that's probably the case. What's interesting about dharma experience is that indeed it IS rare, and the rarity leads some people to, um, make stuff up after reading descriptions of path moments, or non-dual experiences, from others. And some folks adopt the strategy of quoting from books about these phenomena as opposed to putting their experience (non-experience?) in their own words. That's a challenge in places like DhO, where to someone new to the practice the difference is a mystery.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Isn't the fundamental mystery, though, just the very fact that we can simply know what other people experience, and understand one another ?

Yep, it is.

I'm glad you picked up on the similarity of experience being not a dharma phenomenon but a more universal phenomenon. I think that's probably the case. What's interesting about dharma experience is that indeed it IS rare, and the rarity leads some people to, um, make stuff up after reading descriptions of path moments, or non-dual experiences, from others. And some folks adopt the strategy of quoting from books about these phenomena as opposed to putting their experience (non-experience?) in their own words. That's a challenge in places like DhO, where to someone new to the practice the difference is a mystery.

There are concepts for this phenomenon in social sciences, such as intersubjectivity (Schutz) or common ground (Clark). While both concepts are interested in the function of the phenomenon, the former focuses more on the mystery/miracle/challenge whereas the latter focuses more on how it is interactionally accomplished and/or built on, and especially how it presupposes shared or similar experiences which is not always the case, hence opens up for also talking about a lack of common ground - I think (I'm more of an empiricts than a theorist, which I find is a very fruitful thing when it comes to the dharma).
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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... the incomprehensible experience of the annihilation of the self. 

Angel, while you are probably using this language in a poetic fashion, the experience of this is that the self is never annihilated. I'd like to clarify this for those reading along as I really do believe accuracy in the way we portray these things matters. Self is a chimera, a sense of how things operate, even though we habitually reify it and assume it to be a permanent object and doer. My experience has been that the self eventually gets seen for what it is (just another impermanent object via meditation practice, not "me", and ultimately unsatisfactory) and as our practice pulls the curtains back over time the chimera of the self releases its hold in our experience. It remains, however, as a naturally occurring part of what we are, defanged, tamed, still a part of being human.

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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Sure Chris! That's the problem with poetry and language, interpretation. The self is annihilated for an instant, because it's not present and then it returns.  Normal life would be impossible without it.  But having experienced it's absence changes the way we relate to it.   
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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Honestly, poetry and art are the most precise way to describe and share lived experience, IMO, and that is their function. People knew that back in the days. Go explain that to scientists, though... sigh...

Edit : fun fact : Claire Petitmengin originally worked on madhyamika philosophi, and actually wrote a book about it. She then did a PhD under Varela about the "Intuitive experience". That's when she started inventing the micropheno method. Then, she realized she was never gonna make money with all that stuff, and specialized in cognitive sciences and programming (something like that), which she taught, as her main career ! lol !
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

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Olivier:
Honestly, poetry and art are the most precise way to describe and share lived experience, IMO, and that is their function. People knew that back in the days. Go explain that to scientists, though... sigh...



Angel, gracias for opening up this wonderful can of consciousness worms! I've been looking for some traction in this fascinating conversation, like a kid outside a candy shop looking for the door. I am having a hard time recognizing anything as traction, or a door, at this point, as i am in the black speechless season of my endless bipolar cycling. But in a way, that helps, because as a "language professional," a novelist, mainly, there is very little that will get my attention faster than an apparently bottomless silence, the uselessness of all the confused languages of the earth to continue the construction project assault on heaven at Babel. I've spent my adult life getting here, and learning to not despair, or at least to despair without killing myself, which amounts to the same thing in practical terms. My experience is that in the long sinking into what is beyond words, contemplatively, there is still so much going on that it is interesting in itself, even as i feel completely incapacitated in pragmatic terms. There is a layer on the way down where it seems recurrently possible to me that "consciousness" is mathematical; this usually gives way to losing track even of the possibility of symbolic manipulation, and then "consciousness" seems more musical, one surprise after another, with just enough order and continuity to set up the next surprise. And at that level I think, well, there ain't no fucking words for this, I should have found another way to make a living. But I can never think of another way, lol. I am in awe of musicians and graphics artists, of all those who create without language, but my own path has led me so deep into the mystery of language itself that I am sort of morbidly fascinated to see where it goes, even as it goes nowhere ever more precisely. The fact that anything ever gets said at all is a primary mystery, once you've really tasted to completeness of silence. In the beginning was the word of God, it is said. And the rest is exegesis? But I'm sure we'll nail the eeg pattern of that word down soon enough and all this fuss will be moot. The swine chew up those pearls just fine, and look for more.
Edit : fun fact : Claire Petitmengin originally worked on madhyamika philosophi, and actually wrote a book about it. She then did a PhD under Varela about the "Intuitive experience". That's when she started inventing the micropheno method. Then, she realized she was never gonna make money with all that stuff, and specialized in cognitive sciences and programming (something like that), which she taught, as her main career ! lol !

I have been fortunate in that I learned I was "never gonna make money with all that stuff" too late in my career, lol, and by the time I became sure that I wasn't going to make money, and saw clearly why not, I didn't give a damn, and just kept going. Oliver, you mentioned the Jesuit economist and his lovely evocation of the monastic vow of "obedience," and i can relate, having always felt that my writing was its own form of obedience. I have also been blessed with the second monastic vow of poverty, de facto, have found it effortless, for the most part. "Chastity," on the other hand . . .

Thanks again to everyone in this conversation, this is something that could only happen on DhO.

love, tim
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Hey Tim,
I'm very glad you did finally find the door to the candy store. I'm sure you will always be attracted and sustained by the light inside. And as this is a retro candy store, I saved some Mary Janes, Tootsie Rolls, Turkish Taffy, and to really get you going, some Atomic Fireballs.  As a master of words, you are precisely the voice needed as a witness to the difficulties of language and of using it well. You mention Babel, a metaphor I have puzzled over.  Trying to reach Heaven by doing (building a tower), only to discover that without a common language it was an impossible task. Isn't that the theme of this discussion?  Consider St. Tomas Aquinas declaring, after having written tomes on the existence of God that it was all like straw compared to what he had seen and what was revealed to him. 
    "Beyond words," you say, an immense field that is. There is little that can be said about it but a lot that can be said from it. I had a taped interview with Kieth Jarrett, the jazz musician that used to give concerts where he improvised for hours.  It seems impossible to create an extended musical piece on the run and he was asked how he did it.  He answered, "I just jump". I have never forgotten that phrase. When I think of the field beyond words I always remind myself, don't do, just jump. 
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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Hi Angel,

This place, the natural state, as the source of all creativity, where the doing is not yours... the most fecund place to be !

"Try to be conscious".

Here is one of my favorites from Jarrett, I always find it very cathartic : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_f_iRqiAFc

Presence and essence. 

I have endless admiration for the ego strength it takes to make music like that, when nobody in the so-called legitimate art world has a clue what your on about... ANd much gratitude.

Cheers


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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Hi Olivier, curious how synchronicities happen.  I had searched for the interview online before, after I lost the original cassette, and couldn't find anything. After I posted the comment I searched again and found it at, 
 https://programs.newdimensions.org/a/downloads/-/0570e8c3cf508886/f037afc50c495c3e  , and downloaded it for $1.99.  Guru Kieth!!  But the sweet came with the sour, of learning that he would never play again because of two strokes.  Isn't that life, Sun faced Buddha, Moon faced Buddha. Thanks for sharing the link. At least technology gives us the opportunity to continue to enjoy his ART. 
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Trying to reach Heaven by doing (building a tower), only to discover that without a common language it was an impossible task. Isn't that the theme of this discussion?  Consider St. Tomas Aquinas declaring, after having written tomes on the existence of God that it was all like straw compared to what he had seen and what was revealed to him. 

Angel, can you help me understand how this relates to a meditation practice? 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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The tower of Babel that split human communication into many different languages. It relates to the discussion on phenomenology and language. 
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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The tower of Babel that split human communication into many different languages. It relates to the discussion on phenomenology and language. 

Really??? Is there, say, a book I can read that will give me more detail on Babel?

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
The tower of Babel that split human communication into many different languages. It relates to the discussion on phenomenology and language. 

Really??? Is there, say, a book I can read that will give me more detail on Babel?

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Well, I thought the relevance (to the discussion, not necessarily to meditation) was obvious from that reference, but apparently you don't agree, so I guess I should have just shut up then. 

I do agree that practice is far more important than standardized language. I even think that standardized language might be an obstruction to the practice if it goes too far. 

The strength of micro-phenomenology isn't standardized language, but closeness to the context. 
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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I was teasing you - see the teasy smiley?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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I got that, and I concluded that you had already known the reference, which made my remark very unnecessary.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Micro-phenomenology sort of reminds me of learning how to ignore the meaning of what was happening in my experience and focus instead on the processes. In that way, it's like a noting practice but it would appear not to be a spiritual pursuit but an attempt at extending "science" into the realm of the mind and personal experience, but in a process-descriptive way. Not psychology.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Micro-phenomenology sort of reminds me of learning how to ignore the meaning of what was happening in my experience and focus instead on the processes. In that way, it's like a noting practice but it would appear not to be a spiritual pursuit but an attempt at extending "science" into the realm of the mind and personal experience, but in a process-descriptive way. Not psychology.


Yes, that's a fair analogy. By approaching data while they actually happen instead of retrospectively describing them*, you can record the individual's way of discursively making sense of the experience in real time. That doesn't take away the barriers to the content, but that's not the purpose. 


*) Of course, the only data that are recorded while they actually happen is the discursive sense-making, together with whatever data can be recorded from the brain or the rest of the body. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Actually, that depends on what you mean by content. The content of the exoerience - nope. The content of the discursive sense-making - some level of it. You can't really separate form from content entirely there, as the situatedness is crucial. 
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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Hi,

Chris, have you read the prolog to the gospel according to John ?

In principio erat verbum... 

Cheers,
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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Verbum...

Erat lux vera,quæ illuminat omnem hominemvenientem in hunc mundum.

In mundo erat,et mundus per ipsum factus est,et mundus eum non cognovit.

In propria venit,et sui eum non receperunt.

...

Tell me that's not rigpa emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Olivier:
Verbum...

Erat lux vera,quæ illuminat omnem hominemvenientem in hunc mundum.

In mundo erat,et mundus per ipsum factus est,et mundus eum non cognovit.

In propria venit,et sui eum non receperunt.

...

Tell me that's not rigpa emoticon
It's all Greek to me. emoticon Translation, please!
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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My Latin is from my high school years, and that was two centuries ago. You can probably Google translate that, assuming Google can.


EDIT: Google translates it thus:


The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.

At the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.

He came to his own did not receive Him.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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From the king james bible :

John, 1

9 That (the word) was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.


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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Olivier:
From the king james bible :

John, 1

9 That (the word) was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.



Ok. I know this well. The mystical Gospel. Uh, oh, big discussion if we open that can of worms.emoticon
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

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Angel Roberto Puente:
Olivier:
Verbum...

Erat lux vera,quæ illuminat omnem hominemvenientem in hunc mundum.

In mundo erat,et mundus per ipsum factus est,et mundus eum non cognovit.

In propria venit,et sui eum non receperunt.

...

Tell me that's not rigpa emoticon
It's all Greek to me. emoticon Translation, please!
One must be very causious and skeptical when it comes to these prophets and their quirky ideas! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itRbwbVTrzw
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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LOL Exactly!!!
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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They should do one like that with the pali canon buddha ! 
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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During my last retreat I added a couple of lines to the bahya sutta.

In the seeing there will be only the seen... In the thinking... touching... feeling... hearing... 
In the experiencing, there will be only the experienced.
In creation, there will be only the created.

Deus in absconditus.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Deus in absconditus.  Etam, occultis aperta.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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In the seeing there will be only the seen... In the thinking... touching... feeling... hearing... 
In the experiencing, there will be only the experienced.
In creation, there will be only the created.

And THIS speaks to the difference between experience and description. 
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

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Papa Che Dusko:
Angel Roberto Puente:
Olivier:
Verbum...

Erat lux vera,quæ illuminat omnem hominemvenientem in hunc mundum.

In mundo erat,et mundus per ipsum factus est,et mundus eum non cognovit.

In propria venit,et sui eum non receperunt.

...

Tell me that's not rigpa emoticon
It's all Greek to me. emoticon Translation, please!
One must be very causious and skeptical when it comes to these prophets and their quirky ideas! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itRbwbVTrzw

Papa Che, that third crazed prophet seems to have it down just right, to me! emoticon There is confusion about where the little things have gone!

Angel, re: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. (John 1:1, "

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.")



Ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον.
ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν, καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω.
εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθε, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον.

NOW it's all Greek to you!

You're right that the "mystical Gospel" is a giant can of fucking worms. We're three languages in already and we haven't even considered the likelihood of an Aramaic plain-speech basis for the Jesus stories, and the fact that all the concepts need to be read in light of the biblical Hebrew that was the frame of reference for everyone at that point. I also use the basic rabbinical-exegetical rule of thumb in considering the meaning of this stuff: that every biblical verse has at least 70 different readings and meanings. Every worm in the can has 70 cans of worms too. And it's worms all the ways down.

Also, the Gospel of John is spectacularly polemical, in context. It comes at a point when the Jesus sects had diverged enough from the rabbinical Judaism that was emerging after the fall of Jerusalem during the rebellion against the Romans (circa 66-70 C.E.) as the basis for the next two thousand years of Jewish "orthodoxy", that the two sides were mutually defining themselves in explicit hostility. So the "mystical Gospel" has also been a rich source for anti-Semitism, and the fratricidal tragedy of the Jewish Jesus becoming the focus of a dominant "new" religion that, once it had become the religion of the Roman empire, used its power to persecute Jews in a horrific and systematic way. I read this stuff (and use it, mythologically) with a deep sense of grief at the appalling history and politics of scripture, the murderous nature of the co-opting of the language of the human hunger for "God" in the service of power and control. This is one of the things the contemporary Buddhists are trying for, of course: to introduce a spirituality stripped of the co-opted mythologies and sectarian histories that charge all human language in time. But I think the dynamics of co-opting the baby into the service of the bathwater will be with us as long as humans use language in historical cultures with differentiations of politcal and economic power.

Meanwhile, I think Olivier is right to suggest that the opening hymn of the gospel of John is very reminiscent of rigpa, lol. And I have gotten pretty deep in meditating on the Word and the Light, and the nature of embodiment.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
I was teasing you - see the teasy smiley?

Yes! emoticon emoticon emoticon We need more smilies emoticon emoticon emoticon 

All we need is smilies, ba pa ra ba daaa, all we need is smilies, ba pa ra ba daaa, all we need is smilies, smilies, smilies is all we need, smilies is all we need, smilies is all we need, smilies is all we .... .... emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Trying to reach Heaven by doing (building a tower), only to discover that without a common language it was an impossible task. Isn't that the theme of this discussion?  Consider St. Tomas Aquinas declaring, after having written tomes on the existence of God that it was all like straw compared to what he had seen and what was revealed to him. 

Angel, can you help me understand how this relates to a meditation practice? 
Hi Chris, you really know how to keep a guy on his toes!  From the Snowmass Conferences, "The conference, held since 1984 by Father Thomas Keating of the St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, has invited "deep practitioners" from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, and Islamic traditions to compare notes, connect, and clarify. One result has been to distill out some profound points of agreement shared by each of the participants".   Point #8 says,
 
"Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life, yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one's own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality".  http://rabbihenochdov.com/pages/snowmass.html

     In colloquial I would compare this statement to, "You can take the horse to the river, but you can't make it drink".  Practice opens an opportunity for this experience of oneness to shine through. But I would be very suspicious of anyone who says, "I became enlightened ( or any other term for it) because I did this or was doing that".  The experience comes as a surprise and there's no one there to witness it. So how can you take credit? 
     I have always thought of what little experience I've had as a gift. Practice keeps me in the loop and open to letting go. Everything else is sightseeing. The common language is to understand this, practice accordingly, and know that you can't build a tower that will reach "heaven", heaven says "don't call me I'll call you".

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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Okay.

Here's the issue, at least in my mind: how much specificity and accuracy in langauge is required to help folks awaken? Is increased accuracy as measured by specific words being agreed on to mean very specific things, a boon to awakening? Why? Is it because we can better communicate to people what to do? Or is it because some can better communicate to others what they have, or did? I'm curious, and I'm a veritable rube at language studies.

I believe this to be a serious issue. My personal experience tells me that language is important, but what is commonly in use, here on DhO and elsewhere, was sufficient to get me started and keep my exploring for many years. My suspicion is that the practice is most important, and what matters is finding a practice that you can understand intuitively and pursue in a way that suits your personality and preference. To accomplish that language is the key. After that, not so much.

Horse - lead - water - drink?
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Okay.

Here's the issue, at least in my mind: how much specificity and accuracy in langauge is required to help folks awaken? Is increased accuracy as measured by specific words being agreed on to mean very specific things, a boon to awakening? Why? 

     We can use the video of the panel Daniel participated in, as a jump-off point. It's still available 
https://portal.theembodimentconference.org/sessions/panel-monk-and-scientist-discuss-meditation-d79de7
 
All the participants agree that meditation and science share one thing, they are both methods of investigation and both seek to be replicated. Accuracy in the language would then be absolutely necessary, not because it's required to help people awaken, but because replication would be impossible if there was no consensus on how you're talking about the experience. From the perspective of the individual practitioner, language is not a factor of awakening, it's only when you try to communicate that it becomes important. If you want to savor the experience privately all you have to do is keep your mouth shut. emoticon
     In regards to science, Olivier has portrayed the politics involved.  Daniel went further and commented on the "narrowing of the bandwidth" that science has done, limiting the studies to a selected view of meditation.  If you ask why? you can see that it is tied to an effort in having a shared language and $$$. Daniel expressed the hope that different types of practice could be eventually included in the research.  Again, I suppose a common language that applies to all types of meditation would have to be agreed upon before this can happen.
     Linda commented that "The strength of micro-phenomenology isn't standardized language, but closeness to the context."  According to the papers, this is correct. But we can add that, by staying close to the context a different language may surface and be agreed on. Maybe not standardized but more accurate. This should be started for the benefit of the practitioner and from the level of the practitioner. Because, really, how can knowing what part of the brain lights up when equanimity is practiced, help anybody?  Except to include fantasy, disguised as science, in the logs.
    I've tried to apply the principles of micro-phenomenology to really describe the start of a sitting.  I'm not really skillful yet, but just applying the deep digging yields surprising results.  Making an effort to avoid conceptualizing what I am doing and focusing on how it is done provides a different view.  For example; I sit and adjust my posture, what do you do to adjust your posture? I try to feel my body., how do you feel your body?, etc.   This line of questioning, I believe, provides information that will accelerate the benefits of practice because it allows fast replication of something that has worked well before. This is not done while sitting but afterward, when the sitting is evoked, brought back.  This is what I see that can be developed.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Angel Roberto Puente:

     Linda commented that "The strength of micro-phenomenology isn't standardized language, but closeness to the context."  According to the papers, this is correct. But we can add that, by staying close to the context a different language may surface and be agreed on. Maybe not standardized but more accurate. This should be started for the benefit of the practitioner and from the level of the practitioner. Because, really, how can knowing what part of the brain lights up when equanimity is practiced, help anybody?  Except to include fantasy, disguised as science, in the logs.
    I've tried to apply the principles of micro-phenomenology to really describe the start of a sitting.  I'm not really skillful yet, but just applying the deep digging yields surprising results.  Making an effort to avoid conceptualizing what I am doing and focusing on how it is done provides a different view.  For example; I sit and adjust my posture, what do you do to adjust your posture? I try to feel my body., how do you feel your body?, etc.   This line of questioning, I believe, provides information that will accelerate the benefits of practice because it allows fast replication of something that has worked well before. This is not done while sitting but afterward, when the sitting is evoked, brought back.  This is what I see that can be developed.


I agree that describing occurrings as concrete as possible instead of applying fancy names or being abstract and vague can be very useful. However, there are limits to what can be conveyed with words. Describing in what way one is adjusting posture is pretty straightforward. Describing altered states or rigpa - not so much. Sometimes poetry offers glimpses that concrete wordings don't. I also think that the subjective flavours of experience are part of what makes it all beautiful. It would be a shame to reduce that to variables and parameters. That's why qualitative research needs to be part of the research in the field. As for the meditative practice, applying a linguistic framework for it can be a trap, as it might set expectations that limit the complexity that one is open to. I say that as a huge fan of the PoI maps and of fire kasina terminology, among other frameworks, so it's not that I'm all against it. I just think that there needs to be a balance. I would assume that you do too. Whether we would assume the tipping point to be in roughly the same area or not, I have no idea. Just wanted to bring that nuance to the table. 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:
Angel Roberto Puente:

     Linda commented that "The strength of micro-phenomenology isn't standardized language, but closeness to the context."  According to the papers, this is correct. But we can add that, by staying close to the context a different language may surface and be agreed on. Maybe not standardized but more accurate. This should be started for the benefit of the practitioner and from the level of the practitioner. Because, really, how can knowing what part of the brain lights up when equanimity is practiced, help anybody?  Except to include fantasy, disguised as science, in the logs.
    I've tried to apply the principles of micro-phenomenology to really describe the start of a sitting.  I'm not really skillful yet, but just applying the deep digging yields surprising results.  Making an effort to avoid conceptualizing what I am doing and focusing on how it is done provides a different view.  For example; I sit and adjust my posture, what do you do to adjust your posture? I try to feel my body., how do you feel your body?, etc.   This line of questioning, I believe, provides information that will accelerate the benefits of practice because it allows fast replication of something that has worked well before. This is not done while sitting but afterward, when the sitting is evoked, brought back.  This is what I see that can be developed.


I agree that describing occurrings as concrete as possible instead of applying fancy names or being abstract and vague can be very useful. However, there are limits to what can be conveyed with words. Describing in what way one is adjusting posture is pretty straightforward. Describing altered states or rigpa - not so much. Sometimes poetry offers glimpses that concrete wordings don't. I also think that the subjective flavours of experience are part of what makes it all beautiful. It would be a shame to reduce that to variables and parameters. That's why qualitative research needs to be part of the research in the field. As for the meditative practice, applying a linguistic framework for it can be a trap, as it might set expectations that limit the complexity that one is open to. I say that as a huge fan of the PoI maps and of fire kasina terminology, among other frameworks, so it's not that I'm all against it. I just think that there needs to be a balance. I would assume that you do too. Whether we would assume the tipping point to be in roughly the same area or not, I have no idea. Just wanted to bring that nuance to the table. 

     Hi Linda, keep in mind that I am not an expert on micro-phenomenology.  I opened the discussion because cursory experimentation with the technique gave some interesting results and it's use in research said something about its value. Maybe through these discussions, some other method will come up. It's true that there are limits to what can be conveyed in words, and poetry will always be the most beautiful medium.  The technique, as I understand it, doesn't put up any "linguistic framework" it just asks that the subject not indulge in concepts. And that, in their own words, describe how they got to the experience.  From the article: "For example, if the interviewed subject says: "I adopted an open mode of attention", the interviewer replies: "Take your time to go back to the moment you adopted an open mode of attention... At that moment, how do you open your attention?"  The technique evokes an experience that has already taken place, so it doesn't interrupt the actual experience.  Evoking higher "states" and putting them into words will always be difficult if not impossible.  Lao Tzu said it clearly,  "The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name." 

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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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... it just asks that the subject not indulge in concepts.

Angel, words are inherently concepts. Did you maybe mean something different? If the object of this new science is to get people to describe their experiences in smaller fragments, avoid judgments and broad, ill-defined concepts, then sure. If, however, the objective is to avoid concepts altogether, then it doesn't make sense. Maybe we should be talking about the difference between perception, experience, and description. Seems to me the point of this new science is more discrete, accurate and reliable description.

"The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name." 

THIS speaks to the difference between experience and description.

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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Maybe an example of my own concept of this science is in order: let's describe the taste of coca cola.


Option one: it tastes great!

Option two: at first I feel the coldness of the liquid, first on my tongue, then on my teeth, then a sensation of many, many small bubbles on my tongue and the sides of my mouth, followed shortly afterward by the sweetness of the drink. Finally, there is a tangy, citrus-like aftertaste, just before and after I swallow the drink.


This is very much like how I learned to track and investigate my own experience when doing vipassana practice. Break things down into the smallest perceivable bits of experience. Be relentlessly detailed, and the order of the occurrence of the objects involved matters. This is how I realized what in Buddhism is called dependent origination, and the series of realizations that followed put me on the inexorable path.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Great example!
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Maybe an example of my own concept of this science is in order: let's describe the taste of coca cola.


Option one: it tastes great!

Option two: at first I feel the coldness of the liquid, first on my tongue, then on my teeth, then a sensation of many, many small bubbles on my tongue and the sides of my mouth, followed shortly afterward by the sweetness of the drink. Finally, there is a tangy, citrus-like aftertaste, just before and after I swallow the drink.


This is very much like how I learned to track and investigate my own experience when doing vipassana practice. Break things down into the smallest perceivable bits of experience. Be relentlessly detailed, and the order of the occurrence of the objects involved matters. This is how I realized what in Buddhism is called dependent origination, and the series of realizations that followed put me on the inexorable path.

In my understanding of the micro-phenomenological interview, when you say,  "at first I feel the coldness of the liquid" the question would be, How do you feel the coldness?  I'm not calling into question your method, only pointing out the difference.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Angel Roberto Puente:
Chris Marti:
Maybe an example of my own concept of this science is in order: let's describe the taste of coca cola.


Option one: it tastes great!

Option two: at first I feel the coldness of the liquid, first on my tongue, then on my teeth, then a sensation of many, many small bubbles on my tongue and the sides of my mouth, followed shortly afterward by the sweetness of the drink. Finally, there is a tangy, citrus-like aftertaste, just before and after I swallow the drink.


This is very much like how I learned to track and investigate my own experience when doing vipassana practice. Break things down into the smallest perceivable bits of experience. Be relentlessly detailed, and the order of the occurrence of the objects involved matters. This is how I realized what in Buddhism is called dependent origination, and the series of realizations that followed put me on the inexorable path.

In my understanding of the micro-phenomenological interview, when you say,  "at first I feel the coldness of the liquid" the question would be, How do you feel the coldness?  I'm not calling into question your method, only pointing out the difference.

Once again there's a balance here, where to be content. That kind of questioning can go on forever, as it's "turtles all the way down". Back in the days, the ethnomethodologist Harold Garfinkel assigned his students with the task of doing so in everyday life, to uncover what people take for granted. They quickly found out that it really pisses people off after a while. I have heard that some students were even thrown out from their parental homes, but I don't know if that's only a rumor. 
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
... it just asks that the subject not indulge in concepts.

Angel, words are inherently concepts. Did you maybe mean something different? If the object of this new science is to get people to describe their experiences in smaller fragments, avoid judgments and broad, ill-defined concepts, then sure. If, however, the objective is to avoid concepts altogether, then it doesn't make sense. Maybe we should be talking about the difference between perception, experience, and description. Seems to me the point of this new science is more discrete, accurate and reliable description.

"The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name." 

THIS speaks to the difference between experience and description.

"A concept is a thought or idea. ... Concept was borrowed from Late Latin conceptus, from Latin concipere "to take in, conceive, receive." A concept is an idea conceived in the mind. The original meaning of the verb conceive was to take sperm into the womb, and by a later extension of meaning, to take an idea into the mind."  That's the definition I'm using. 
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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"A concept is a thought or idea. ... Concept was borrowed from Late Latin conceptus, from Latin concipere "to take in, conceive, receive." A concept is an idea conceived in the mind. The original meaning of the verb conceive was to take sperm into the womb, and by a later extension of meaning, to take an idea into the mind."  That's the definition I'm using. 


Angel, I was using the word "concept" to mean the abstraction that words are, because they represent something else that underlies their meaning. This was made clear to me once while sitting in meditation on my front porch. A bird chirped. For the first time ever it became clear to me that the word "bird" was only apparent after a series of perceptions and mental events occurred first. "Bird" and the mental image of the abstraction "bird" was the result of a mental process that had a sort of beginning and a sort of end, like a wave does. So there are many processes that might generate the word "cold" in my mind, some refer to temperature, some to feelings, some to the lack of feelings, and so on.

So, is this new science of description we're talking about here meant to uncover these underlying processes like my vipassana practice did? Or is it meant to standardize the descriptions of the result of those processes?

This is getting really interesting to me, BTW, and I'm very glad you started this topic.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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You guys are starting to get into semiotics here.

There's a GREAT introduction to semiotics I read while studying it a few years back, when I was living in Thessaloniki, Greece. It's very nice, with a lot of funny drawings and such, it's more like a comic book and reads easily. It presents a lot of thought provoking ideas about this whole business, the main ideas that thinkers have had since Aristotle/Plato, in a very direct, pragmatic way, with lots of examples. I have the pdf but don't know how to upload it here : if someone's interested maybe we can find a way...

Another good ressource is Umberto Eco's book The sign.

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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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You guys are starting to get into semiotics here.

Absolutely! Isn't communication chock full of gray areas where we use some combination of high-level abstraction and other symbols and non-verbal cues? I think that applies both to what we'd call "internal" mental processes and external signaling to one another.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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The bearing of semiotics hasn't been unquestioned, though. If I'm not confusing my memories now, I think it has been criticized for its lack of interest in context, wherefore mixing it with a methodological approch focusing on the context seems a bit weird. 
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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No, no, it goes deep. Charles Sanders Peirce !
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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How about this : the World. Is. One big word.

We use small human words in order to rise to the big word.

Courtesy of : Augustine.

*ducks*
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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It seems like there isn't a consensus about where semiotics end and pragmatics start and whether they are different approaches or go together. As usual, categories aren't that clearcut. However, admittedly, this is outside my area of expertise so I’m probably not updated to more recent discussions.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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Eco would say : action and ecceitas is where the infinite play of semiosis ends...

Well, it's not like there's *one* school of thought called semiotics. I've always thought peirce's notiin of three categories of existence as firstness, secondness, thirdness, related to level of semiotic complexity, must somehow correspond with levels of subtelty of mind, and dependent origination. Though i believe, articulating what we work on here (thusness and dependent origination) with semiotics would be an interesting venture.

Edit : well, in fact, this is what burbea calls fabrication and levels of fabrication / unfabricating. And how does this relate with phenomenology ? This process (the creation of the world) is what phenomenologists call : the operations of transcendental subjectivity.

I must say, i think this was my first contemplative practice : trying to see beyond words, getting to the level of pure pre-conceptual and pre-interpreted experience. (Thusness). I realized it was impossible a few months ago ! Perception always has imagination and cosmology wrapped in it and conversely !
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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We're at the crossroad of hermeneutics and phenomenology.

I've come to think, that this is the deeper meaning of the symbolism of the Cross.
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Olivier, modified 5 Months ago.

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Here's a link ! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hOKpToCEjfH4j8_m9WXjWo_bAw4Bjjwo/view?usp=sharing
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Olivier, thanks for that link.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Angel Roberto Puente:
Chris Marti:
... it just asks that the subject not indulge in concepts.

Angel, words are inherently concepts. Did you maybe mean something different? If the object of this new science is to get people to describe their experiences in smaller fragments, avoid judgments and broad, ill-defined concepts, then sure. If, however, the objective is to avoid concepts altogether, then it doesn't make sense. Maybe we should be talking about the difference between perception, experience, and description. Seems to me the point of this new science is more discrete, accurate and reliable description.

"The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name." 

THIS speaks to the difference between experience and description.

"A concept is a thought or idea. ... Concept was borrowed from Late Latin conceptus, from Latin concipere "to take in, conceive, receive." A concept is an idea conceived in the mind. The original meaning of the verb conceive was to take sperm into the womb, and by a later extension of meaning, to take an idea into the mind."  That's the definition I'm using. 

All symbolic communication, such as using words, is imbued with ideas. That's the point of it. There are no words that are devoid of ideas. So if that's the definition you are using, I think you are screwed if you think you can avoid concepts in your descriptions. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 5 Months ago.

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

All symbolic communication, such as using words, is imbued with ideas. That's the point of it. There are no words that are devoid of ideas. So if that's the definition you are using, I think you are screwed if you think you can avoid concepts in your descriptions. 


Maybe this is too far off along the tangent, but it spurred a thought... Any communication without concepts would be more like animal communication, right? Not that I don’t think that animals can use symbols too. I think we often underestimate animals in that regard. But there seems to be lots of animal communication with less of abstraction to it. People do that too, but that’s not what we call language. I’m wondering whether this can be related to the Buddhist notion of different realms. The human realm is supposedly where awakening is possible. Does that have implications for what communication is most helpful? Or is that just mixing apples with oranges?
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

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" I think we often underestimate animals in that regard."

I think we do and many biologists would agree. I'm a beekeeper and this super organism is so sophisticated , going so far into detailed communication within a colony of 60.000 strong emoticon that even the renowned Jurgen Tautz bee scientist from Germany say "we are nowhere close in knowing the total bee communication". 

Not just that they have democracy when voting where the swarm is to move but also all the intricate ways a scout bee literally explains to the swarm all details about a new hole it has found; its exact size and volume, size of the entrance, distance from the swarm and height from the ground and describing the terrain leading towards it.  

Then many bees follow after the scout to do measurements and see if that really is so. Once they have reached a certain count of bees willing to go one way or the other way (another scout also found another home someplace) they vote and choose the one that has the majority vote! Democracy emoticon 

Fascinating! 


Edit; in case I didn't mention, the bees use waggle dance to communicate such details but they also do certain buzzing noises and even use the wax comb as a telephone line (body shaking during dances) and they encode maps on the "communication comb" which is a comb that's usually closest to the entrance (other bees can read this map to find the info on nectar and pollen sources) 

Edit2; and then there is the pheromone communication too. 

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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Now I understand why you are always buzzing around. emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

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Papa Che Dusko:
" I think we often underestimate animals in that regard."

I think we do and many biologists would agree. I'm a beekeeper and this super organism is so sophisticated , going so far into detailed communication within a colony of 60.000 strong emoticon that even the renowned Jurgen Tautz bee scientist from Germany say "we are nowhere close in knowing the total bee communication". 

Not just that they have democracy when voting where the swarm is to move but also all the intricate ways a scout bee literally explains to the swarm all details about a new hole it has found; its exact size and volume, size of the entrance, distance from the swarm and height from the ground and describing the terrain leading towards it.  

Then many bees follow after the scout to do measurements and see if that really is so. Once they have reached a certain count of bees willing to go one way or the other way (another scout also found another home someplace) they vote and choose the one that has the majority vote! Democracy emoticon 

Fascinating! 


Edit; in case I didn't mention, the bees use waggle dance to communicate such details but they also do certain buzzing noises and even use the wax comb as a telephone line (body shaking during dances) and they encode maps on the "communication comb" which is a comb that's usually closest to the entrance (other bees can read this map to find the info on nectar and pollen sources) 

Edit2; and then there is the pheromone communication too. 


papa che, your waggle dancing has got my pheromones abuzz. emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Okay.

Here's the issue, at least in my mind: how much specificity and accuracy in langauge is required to help folks awaken? 

Chris, I agree that these questions and nuances come close to the heart of the issue here. Language here is being queried in the light of upaya, as a more or less skillful means to the end of awakening. Eyes to see and ears to hear, as Isaiah and Jesus put it: the blind seeing and the deaf hearing. In very broad metaphorical terms, obviously: awakening from the nightmare of samsara, seeing through the compulsive conceptual reductions of reality, hearing the truth of experience through the noise of our models of experience. I think DhO is from one point of view an experimental exercise, a test tube micro-culture, a laboratory in Babel: can we speak of the baby in the bathwater? Can we hear the truth of the fire in the midst of the smoke? One of the reasons discourse is so interesting here is because we are all coming from an experiential base, and committed to a depth of practice, where our bullshit detectors are set on high: we understand that getting this stuff right somehow is of the highest human value. 
Is increased accuracy as measured by specific words being agreed on to mean very specific things, a boon to awakening? Why? Is it because we can better communicate to people what to do? Or is it because some can better communicate to others what they have, or did? I'm curious, and I'm a veritable rube at language studies.

I think that there is a lineage of sorts here on DhO, from one angle: the basic path and vocabulary is rooted in the re-vivified and revised and re-interpreted Theravadan vocabulary of Daniel's MCTB and his myriad exegeses and dharma talks elsewhere. This is the initial ballpark of language that drew us here, and the rough linguistic "gold standard" for discourse. The vast diversity of views and vocabularies that DhO can tolerate without dissolving into complete chaos is pretty impressive, and speaks well for the viability of the primary lineage, as I see it. But we all have a sense of what we're talking about here, we each have a unique set of eyes seeing what they see and ears hearing what they hear, and we recognize kinship in experiences across languages a ,lot, however approximately. There is a beautiful bit in this thread somewhere above where you are talking about transmission and the recognition beyond words, with Olivier and Linda, which is a linguistic trio with some serious spiritual heterogeneity; and all three of you know what you mean there. It's in the way you hold the flower maybe, lol.

The other point about language that seems important to me to bring in here is that language is not simply constructive. The apophatic tradition in Judeo-Christianity is ultimately using language subversively, articulating various approachs to "God" simply to subvert them. It is kin to the "neti neti" approach in Hinduism, a concerted linguistic effort to subvert any language's claim to ultimate validity. That such an approach is viable "speaks" for itself: it should logically lead to a nihilistic dismissal of all language use in spirituality. But it doesn't. Why?
I believe this to be a serious issue. My personal experience tells me that language is important, but what is commonly in use, here on DhO and elsewhere, was sufficient to get me started and keep my exploring for many years. My suspicion is that the practice is most important, and what matters is finding a practice that you can understand intuitively and pursue in a way that suits your personality and preference. To accomplish that language is the key. After that, not so much.

amen: a deadline to start, language-wise, and an extension to finish, with particular language no longer quite the issue. I do think that the strong emphasis on practice here on DhO--- and in the "Daniel lineage" in general (with all due awareness of schisms and personalities and threads)--- is the key to keeping the entire enterprise afloat on an infinite abyss of fathomless nothingness beforeafterandduring words. That, and a decent sense of humor at critical moments. (This is the moment for Papa Che to come in and suggest amid a flurry of smiley-faces that we all shut the fuck up and get back to the mat.)

love, tim
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 5 Months ago.

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" (This is the moment for Papa Che to come in and suggest amid a flurry of smiley-faces that we all shut the fuck up and get back to the mat.) "

Actually emoticon I would much rather give each and every one of you a fine large shovel to help me out spread 14 kubic meters of gravel infront of my house emoticon All these Bodhisatvas around and I work alone!!! 
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

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Horse - lead - water - drink?

. . . and at that moment, the horse's thirst was quenched.  "Why didn't you say that in the first place?" the horse said.

Horse 

"Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; he is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." Zechariah 9:9



lead

"They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them." Isaiah 49:10


water

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isaiah 55:1

drink

"but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:14

It's metaphors all the way down, man.


love, tim
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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It's metaphors all the way down, man.

Hiya, Tim.

If we restrict ourselves to language, yes, it's concepts and metaphors all day long, forever. But is everything language?
Tim Farrington, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
It's metaphors all the way down, man.

Hiya, Tim.

If we restrict ourselves to language, yes, it's concepts and metaphors all day long, forever. But is everything language?

hey Chris,

lol, is anything language? Is language anything? All I was trying to say, forgetting the finger in the light of the moon, was, speakjng as a horse, and in a spirit of mutual celebration, thank God for the water.

love, seriously,
tim
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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I suspect we can use words more precisely to get closer to our felt experiences, but words are concepts, and thus inherently removed from experience to some degree. That's my contribution here today - a sort of middle way. Or maybe a useless compromise. Take your pick.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Whoooooa!  I think we fell into quicksand.  Thank you Tim for throwing a stick we can try to grab on to.  Theories of language abound.  Have you heard of Relational Frame Theory? Here's a sort of, for dummies, exposition, https://docsmith.co/2007/12/what-is-relational-frame-theory-part-one/   Language is a whole other subject.  In the tradition I've practiced it is said that practice is:
 
A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence on words and letters;
Direct pointing to the mind of man;
Seeing into one's nature and attaining Buddhahood.

Bodhidharma  
"aim to achieve enlightenment by the way they live, and by mental actions that approach the truth without philosophical thought or intellectual endeavor."

I think this is true of all the traditions because the end result will always be beyond words.  I would ask you Chris, Did you try to answer the question of, How do you feel the coldness?  I invite Linda and Olivier to do the experiment.  Take a sip of cold water, concentrate on the sensations felt, and how you reach the idea of cold. That is, if you do.  Report. 

Chris,
 in the example you give of hearing a bird, did you have to make an effort to hear the bird?  What, who heard the bird?  Did you need words? 

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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris, in the example you give of hearing a bird, did you have to make an effort to hear the bird?  What, who heard the bird?  Did you need words? 

- No effort necessary - this is a natural process that runs automatically,

- No one in particular (because the mind was occupied by "birding" and not creating a conceptual self),

- words not needed but appear automatically as a product of the process of dependent origination

Why do you ask?
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Chris, in the example you give of hearing a bird, did you have to make an effort to hear the bird?  What, who heard the bird?  Did you need words? 

- No effort necessary - this is a natural process that runs automatically,

- No one in particular (because the mind was occupied by "birding" and not creating a conceptual self),

- words not needed but appear automatically as a product of the process of dependent origination

Why do you ask?
Just comparing notes.  I would have stopped at no effort. As Bankei Yotaku would say,
 
"What we call a "thought" is something that has already fallen one or more removes from the living reality of the Unborn. If you priests would just live in the Unborn, there wouldn't be anything for me to tell you about it, and you wouldn't be here listening to me. But because of the un-bornness and marvelous illuminative power inherent in the Buddha-mind, it readily reflects all things that come along and transforms itself into them, thus turning the Buddha-mind into thought.
 
"Or again, because of the Buddha-mind's wonderful illuminative wisdom, such things as you have done and experienced in the past cannot fail to be reflected in it. If you fix onto those images as they reflect, you are unwittingly creating illusion. The thoughts do not already exist at the place where those images are reflecting; they are caused by your past ex-periences and occur when things you have seen and heard in the past are reflected on the Buddha-mind. But thoughts originally have no real substance. So if they are reflected, you should just let them be reflected, and let them arise when they arise. Don't have any thought to stop them. If they stop, let them stop. Don't pay any attention to them. Leave them alone. Then illusions won't appear. And since there are no illusions when you don't take note of the reflecting images, while the images may be reflected in the mind, it's just the same as if they weren't. A thousand thoughts may arise, yet it's just as though they hadn't. They won't give you a bit of trouble. You won't have any thoughts to clear from your mind— not a single thought to cut off."
(THE UNBORN,The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei 1622-1693 ,Revised Edition, Translated and with an Introduction by Norman Waddell, North Point)

I am not judging, or recomending, just sharing.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Mahayana folks do tend to stop at no effort. My first practice was Zen. There's more underneath the hood, however, and knowing how the mind constructs our so-called "reality" is very useful for lots of reasons.

There are many roads to the top of the mountain.

So... me,too: not judging or recommending, just sharing  emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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BTW, Angel - I don't think I've ever seen a description of your meditation practice here on DhO. Did I miss that somehow? I'd be really interested to know how you came to the dharma and how you've pursued it.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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     In a post somewhere I told Tim that I am interspiritual.  I like saying that my hardware is Shikantaza and my software the teachings of Jesus.  My first contact with Zen was at the main hall of my martial arts school in 1971 with Eido Shimano Roshi.  But, unknowingly, I had been practicing for years, since I was 16, with Hara breathing.  I started practicing Zen formally much later in the lineage of Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi. I've become acquainted with the Sutras here, and a reading of the Annapanasati Sutra explained what I have always done.             Michael Taft, who I have a lot of respect for, posted a very similar practice https://deconstructingyourself.com/empty-awareness-aware-emptiness-nondual.html   .  What may be different is that Hara breathing, with all its details, is still a big part of my practice and it goes a little further than instructions to relax or focus on the belly as an object of Shamatha.
     All good practices will go through" knowing how the mind constructs our so-called "reality" as you mentioned before. It's the natural outcome of concentration.  And there are many other facets of mental experience that can be explored. But I have no such ambition. The end of suffering has been enough for me.   Having put my insight into the grinding wheel of a, relatively, long life, it has passed with flying colors.  Through tragedy and triumph, no effort, no suffering.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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All good practices will go through" knowing how the mind constructs our so-called "reality" as you mentioned before. It's the natural outcome of concentration.  And there are many other facets of mental experience that can be explored. But I have no such ambition. The end of suffering has been enough for me.   Having put my insight into the grinding wheel of a, relatively, long life, it has passed with flying colors.  Through tragedy and triumph, no effort, no suffering.

I agree - very well put. I appreciate the personal history, too. Thanks.

I seem to be an oddball practitioner in that my earlier practice took me to the "just this" and related realizations you have mentioned. And then my vipassana practice has taken me through a dependent origination route. Both end up in more or less the same place as seen from different perspectives.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Great. An initial experience of Ultimate Reality can be clarified and amplified. And it should be.  Understanding at a really precise level takes a lot of energy and dedication, far beyond a working knowledge. This kind of curiosity will certainly be rewarding and will provide a strong basis for teaching.  Understanding Buddhist Psychology and putting it in plain English would be a great project.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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Thanks, coach.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

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Chris Marti:
Thanks, coach.

 Success !!!  I'll be waiting for that book.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

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I wouldn't hold my breath.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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     I just listened to an interview that Michael Taft had with Steve Aizenstat about working with dreams.
https://deconstructingyourself.com/dreams-and-the-spiritual-imagination-with-steve-aizenstat.html
I heard terms that have similarities to the phenomenological inquiry that has been proposed in this thread. The mention of seeking
“quality of presence”, and the relation to questions equivalent to “What is happening now?” or “What is this?” is an important aspect. All in an effort to “look directly at experience, rather than trying to understand, conceptualize, or intellectualize experience”.      
     Aizenstat 
seeks to move the person “out of identification” to “relationship” with the dream. I am not making an equivalency with the micro-phenomenological interview but it is interesting to notice the emphasis there is, in both methods, on the need to stay centered in the direct experience and the avoidance of disconnected ideation. Another interesting aspect, I see, is what this effort to understand the messaging in dreams can add to practice.
     The facet of growing up vs waking up can be artificially separated. Working with dreams as a message from the “inside” may provide a means to work with  bypassed material that will come back to haunt us if not dealt with in time.  I believe that healing can take place simultaneously in the psychological and spiritual planes. The psychologist Carl Rogers explained that ”when a person's “ideal self” (i.e., who they would like to be) is congruent with their actual behavior (self-image), self-actualization becomes possible”. The concept of self-actualization was first used by Abraham Maslow who placed it at the top of his hierarchy of needs pyramid. He defined it as a “complete realization of one's potential, and the full development of one's abilities and appreciation for life”.
     Psychology and meditation define the self differently. Psychology tries to take the kinks out of it and meditation tries to go beyond it. But
thankfully there is a movement in the direction of understanding that both aspects have to be reconciled. This is an understanding arrived at
by psychologists who are also meditators. When both aspects are 
worked on, the goal of ending suffering is reached easier.
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

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Affirmative!
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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My tread disappeared from the recent post page. This is a test. 
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Siavash, modified 4 Months ago.

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Angel Roberto Puente:
My tread disappeared from the recent post page. This is a test. 


Your thread had a cessation then emoticon . Now we have another stream winner in the camp!
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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Siavash:
Angel Roberto Puente:
My tread disappeared from the recent post page. This is a test. 


Your thread had a cessation then emoticon . Now we have another stream winner in the camp!

Who said that online discussions are in vain?  Eat your words oh incredulous demon!!  
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Siavash, modified 4 Months ago.

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  Eat your words oh incredulous demon!!  

Oh, I've never explored taste and smell of words! Great avenue for exploration! Thanks for the suggestion!
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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     How did we get to the present state of meditation technology? The movement did not start with the Buddha. There are records of
meditation practice from 1500 BCE. And even before that, there is evidence that people started to be aware of a spiritual dimension in
12,000 BCE. The question is how was experience shared? Starting with paintings on cave walls the sharing progressed into forms we are
familiar with in this age. Exactly how this was accomplished is unclear. 
     Our capacity to learn from the experience of others is unique. Yet we observe that in our modern era, reference to written documents, the older the better, is considered the authoritative method. The debates as to what each term meant in ancient times and how to understand them today rages on.
https://secularbuddhism.org/the-importance-of-how-we-translate-the-end-of-suffering/
This creates a great disadvantage in expanding our knowledge of how the meditative techniques really work. Adhering blindly to less
technological and precise ways of understanding human functioning can be unproductive. Yet, arguing over who knows more about the ancient writings, is prevalent. The phenomenological approach can be the solution needed. It brings together the scientific method and the direct knowledge of the practitioner, “In simple terms, phenomenology can be defined as an approach to research that
seeks to describe the essence of a phenomenon by exploring it from the perspective of those who have experienced it.” It is already
being considered  “to help health professions education (HPE) scholars learn from the experiences of others”.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC646813
This is another instance, among the many other areas, in which it is already used. 
     If knowledge of meditation is going to advance we have to go back to basics, to the essentials. The “show me” attitude has to take the forefront. No tradition would have been able to survive if it couldn't replicate the experience of the originator. But the only verifiable proof we have, of the worth of any approach to practice, is the results they produce in living people right now. Understanding what the experience is, and what is worth perpetuating is the task for the 21st century mind.
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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Starting with paintings on cave walls the sharing progressed into forms we are
familiar with in this age.

How do you know that ?

Let me ask you something I've been asking myself lately. Does the "phenomenological" method make sense in a pre-scientific, i.e. pre-modern context ?

Before objective sciences took birth, everything was phenomenological, wasn't it ? Phenomenological just means "experienced". Everything is "experienced". Everything is "phenomenological". Except physics, and god, of course. Would they have needed the term/notion back then?

Only since the galilean revolution has our thinking evolved to the point that we have had to conceptualize something such as phenomenology - or so it seems to me. There have been many attempts since the 16th century to "go back to the source", ie root thinking in the fresh waters of experience again - Descartes, Hume, even Kant, Husserl, etc. 

Cheers

ps : I agree with your final statements in a way, but it seems to me that this has already been completely figured out, in fact, that it's continually been re-figured out throughout human history. The issue was always, "How to get others to se this too?" What makes you think we can now do better ? Not to be pessimistic, but the problems have been just the same throughout history as the solutions: many people behave in explicitely destructive way, others seek domination, power, sex, etc., most people will rather follow the easy/appealing/but ultimately unsatisfying ways of mundane pursuit, or whatever someone convinces them is worth pursuing. And each new generation is born as ignorant as the previous, and the task has to be taken up anew each time. So, I don't know emoticon
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

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Maybe what Angel is getting at is "codified phenomenology." Detailed, accurate descriptions of what happens, which can then be classified in standard, meaningful ways to increase the level of understanding of a given phenomenon.

Angel?
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

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What makes you think we can now do better ?

Olivier, there are people (I've met some of them) who are hell-bent on creating technologies that will be able to read the brain's processes and play them back, thus replicating a specific process. I don't know the state-of-the-art on this technological front but, if authentically possible, could help to carry hard-won knowledge and experience of dharma forward.

I'm just musing here, but there are these people.
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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There are also people working on ending death emoticonemoticon

edit : you know my general stance regarding brain technology ! not impressed !
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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     Archeology Olivier, I'm not in the habit of pulling things out of my excretion hole. emoticon Even a simple search in Wikipedia will talk about this.  There are studies of prehistoric rites of passage https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S027841659790307X
http://www2.southeastern.edu/Academics/Faculty/mrossano/recentpubs/EvolOfReligionFinal.pdf?q=the-role-of-dreams-in-the-evolution-of-the-human-mind
that lead to this idea.  Just in case, I'm not going to argue the validity of archeology.
     What the phenomenological inquiry, in its present form as the micro-phenomenological interview, provides is a concise manner of reaching the how of experience.  You are right in saying that everything( experienced by living creatures) is phenomenological.  In prehistoric times, and now, the problem is how to transmit knowledge. How it's conceptualized isn't the point. Even without concepts, the prehistoric people went ahead in trying to pass on knowledge.
     Meditative systems have always been widely used. Wilhelm Wundt, the father of experimental Psychology, used introspection as the basis of his studies. It's only when it's decided that introspective observations were not reliable that it goes underground. But still self-reports, under any name, are a meditative tool. 
Chris
Maybe what Angel is getting at is "codified phenomenology." Detailed, accurate descriptions of what happens, which can then be classified in standard, meaningful ways to increase the level of understanding of a given phenomenon.


Exactly. Anybody can talk about their experiences. That is what goes on in this forum.  But to be precise, factual, and to understand how they got to the experience is something else altogether. That's what science is aiming for, from the direction of the brain and the direction of the body-mind simultaneously.  Trying to make a link between the two. Not only in meditation and mental health, but also in medical conditions. It's a brave new world, my friend.  
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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Angel, don't get vexed, but how do you know "wall paintings progressed into the forms of transmission we have today"?

It seems like a very reductionist view of prehistoric man. I'm sure they were as evolved as we are if not more. Also, other forms of rituals and practices and culture which might have existed just didn't leave a trace. For all we know, prehistoric people knew how to build houses out of clay and wood, which of course 10s of thousands of years later have left no trace. How can you be sure the people who painted in caves weren't just the hobo parias of the time who didn't find anything better than caves to live in and drew drunk paintings in ? emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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Angel, don't get vexed, but how do you know "wall paintings progressed into the forms of transmission we have today"?

I'm not vexed, I just couldn't find a better emoji. emoticon Again, not putting all my money on archeology, but they say, "
The oldest documented evidence of the practice of meditation are wall arts in the Indian subcontinent from approximately 5,000 to 3,500 BCE, showing people seated in meditative postures with half-closed eyes".  Who knows? maybe they were taking a shit instead of a sit. But this hippie is willing to allow reasonable doubt that they are right. Anyway, even if we forget the whole premise, what is being done now still stands. 
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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Oh I'm def not saying the cavemen were "cavemen" !  I think you got my comment wrong.

I'm saying, what if we turned it around and said we are the ones living in a dark age, a kali yuga where the notion of spiritual exercice and realization has all but disappeared, when there used to be societies structured around it with the highest caste being the ones aiming for Jñana ? It used to be what societies revolved around goddammit !
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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Olivier:
Oh I'm def not saying the cavemen were "cavemen" !  I think you got my comment wrong.

I'm saying, what if we turned it around and said we are the ones living in a dark age, a kali yuga where the notion of spiritual exercice and realization has all but disappeared, when there used to be societies structured around it with the highest caste being the ones aiming for Jñana ? It used to be what societies revolved around goddammit !

Oh my God!! Talking about far fetched ideas!! Somebody call the crisis line! Wakanda forever! 

But, sure I believe that there were more advanced societies in that respect. Shadows of that can be seen in the aboriginal people of the world. The farther away we have ventured from nature the more difficult it has been to sustain that kind of view.  The start of the Industrial society probably put the last nail in the coffin. Now it's up to the individual.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 4 Months ago.

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"The start of the Industrial society probably put the last nail in the coffin. Now it's up to the individual."

Divide and conquer! Only the powerful remain united. We are but puppets now. Only a few like Terry live free stranded on some islands (until the ice caps melt down). 

I better go to sleep now as I'm to 9 to 5 yet again to keep the rich richer. Long live the Puppeteer! emoticon 
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J W, modified 4 Months ago.

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Reminds me of Terence McKenna... are you sure you're not the hippy? (I kid) emoticon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOXdeQPajJk
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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oh i am ! just going through a cynical phase :p
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J W, modified 4 Months ago.

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And there is much to be cynical about these days... *shakes fist at sky*
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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Just for the title : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gueeULf939U
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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J W:
Reminds me of Terence McKenna... are you sure you're not the hippy? (I kid) emoticon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOXdeQPajJk
Hmmm. Psychoactive plant farms.  Do you know anything about that Olivieremoticon
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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Well, there have been days when....... :p

edit : but seriously though, René Guénon makes a convincing case for the fact that it is very strange that we nowadays do not have any institutions devoted to the development of higher knowledge (Jñana, what insight practice is all about), nor even devotional practice (Bakhti) ; we are left, in this division in three realms of action, with measly Karma ! How lame ! The rat race ! We rajasic and satvic people are relegated to the overgrounds, when there were times when people like us would be fed for free by regular bystanders just out of respect for what we would be engaged with.... emoticon

Edit 2 : just measure the difference, we are now fighting for this stuff to even be acknowledged as something more than superstition. Are we not ?
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

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... we are now fighting for this stuff to even be acknowledged as something more than superstition. Are we not ?

Yep, that's my quest. I'd replace "superstition" with "woo woo" but the gist is the same.
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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:p

Does that not say something about the state of society ?
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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btw, have you guys seen chomsky's beard ?
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

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have you guys seen chomsky's beard ?

I did, and it was marvelous!
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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Wasn't it !!
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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     Starting a journal of meditation experience is recommended by many teachers.
It is a way of keeping track of insights and, in this forum, of
sharing with others to receive input that can be helpful, ideally. In
hindsight, I think it would have benefited me to have an accurate
recount of experience as it happened. There is a tendency to
embellish later memories to make them seem more important or just not
remembering. Having to discipline oneself to stick to the truth is
hard work.
     Writing about meditation experience, in its initial steps, should not be made
difficult. Julian Daizan Skinner advises to, “ Primarily treat
this as a brain dump, putting down whatever occurs to you in the
context of your previous meditation experience.” The use of this
is to give “distance and perspective” on any “emotional and
mental experience that may have arisen” He also mentions that
“it's useful to go back and note particular themes and threads that
recur”. This is a very personal use of a practice dairy. When
sharing these diaries it is to be expected that some editing will
take place. How honest this editing is will add to the cultivation of
morality.
   When writing phenomenological first-person accounts literary and poetic
styles can be used, even combined. Not only meditators can benefit
from this activity, people with all kinds of conditions like
Parkinson, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and quadriplegia have
benefited. Linda Finlay says in her paper, ‘Writing the Pain’:
Engaging First-PersonPhenomenological Accounts,
“Regardless of how it is conducted, the concrete first
person description probably needs to be crafted further. This could
include, for instance, working through it more deeply to pull out
implicit meanings and to bring the phenomenon of focus closer.”
Writing of her struggle with pain she uses poetic license to describe what it
feels like,“Burning, throbbing, spasm … These words don’t capture the experience,
the layers, the colour, the flavor, the noise, the assault … Brown, black, red, grey ...
Molten lava with hard black crusty edges and endless grey ash beyond
… A poisonous lemon fire-water with bitter aloes codeine-fuelled aftertaste …
The high-pitched screech of an electric saw on metal,
a pneumatic drill which will not be silenced …”
Looking at writing from the phenomenological point of view other aspects arise, “To write
means to write myself, not in a narcissistic sense but in a deep
collective sense. To write phenomenologically is the untiring effort
to author a sensitive grasp of being itself – of that which authors
us, of that which makes it possible for us to be and speak… in the
first place.....”
“Ideally, the first person account can go beyond the personal to offer
understandings about the nature of being that may be generalizable
(or at least applicable or relevant) to others.”
     When sticking close to experience the distinctions of meditator or
non-meditator disappear. Like the Zen master said 
when,
In frustration, the student demanded, 'What does this word attention
mean?'..... “attention, means attention” The author discovers this,
“Sensitive to my body’s every reaction, I learn to be still, to relax and not resist
the pain. I learn to stop fighting, to go with it. When I succeed,
sometimes the pain transforms into an interesting sensation. I’m
aware of a burning, or a dull ache, or of simultaneous layers. It is
not so bad. It is just there. It is me and not an enemy to fight.
Perhaps it is the quelling of fear that reduces the pain … Ignore
it. Just exercise Linda.”       Sound familiar?

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.2989/IPJP.2012.12.1.5.1113
Tim Farrington, modified 4 Months ago.

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Angel

Looking at writing from the phenomenological point of view other aspects arise, “To write

means to write myself, not in a narcissistic sense but in a deep
collective sense. To write phenomenologically is the untiring effort
to author a sensitive grasp of being itself – of that which authors
us, of that which makes it possible for us to be and speak… in the
first place.....”

Ah, amigo, you're a goner. This commitment to the kind of writing you're talking about will keep you interested until all beings are saved and the pentecostal flame burns bright above everyone's head. We'll keep a table free for you in the Bar(do) of Last Resort, right next to Rumi.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

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      It's always good to hear from you, Tim. Especially if it's about writing,
who better? In this forum, where the main concern seems to be who can
detect the more subtle blip and can determine whether it's in the
mind or in reality and what part of the brain it comes from and what
nana it belongs to and how much closer it gets them to stream-entry
or farther into paths, its good to have a champion for the human side
of practice.
      The goal of being a better person can be lost in all the interest for the weirdness.
To speak of happiness and compassion in the midst of all this can
seem far more illusory than the blips. But if allowed, I will serve
as a witness to the certainty of reaching happiness. Those that
point their practice at resolving their inner conflicts by shining
the clarity of awareness on them and extend the fruits of their
practice to the people around them are sure to live in the kingdom of gratitude and bliss.
Oh happy day!
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Chris Marti, modified 4 Months ago.

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Agreed, let's not confuse means and ends emoticon
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Olivier, modified 4 Months ago.

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Angel Roberto Puente:
... It's a brave new world, my friend.  

Hippy ! emoticon
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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     I just heard about a brain theory in the GuruViking podcast # 86 and of course had to find out more about it. Shinzen mentioned it in the context of mathematical theories of consciousness, but since I can barely manage arithmetic, I approached it more from the psychological side. After all, this approach is more significant for what it can add to day-to-day practice. Neuroscientist Karl Friston “proposed a theory—the free energy principle—that describes with mathematical precision how the brain conserves energy by minimizing surprise. Simply put, we make sense of the world by either updating our assumptions or by changing the world to make our assumptions true. And both of these arise spontaneously from our drive to make things more predictable”. Think about it, isn't this the dilemma we are trying to solve by meditating? Which one will we choose? There's a lot more information in layman terms in this article, https://blog.dropbox.com/topics/work-culture/the-mind-at-work--karl-friston-on-the-brain-s-surprising-energyI found the details very pertinent to the effort of reaching a clear understanding and path to practice. I may not be good at multiplication, but I'm easily hooked by an interesting line of thought.
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Chris Marti, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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 Simply put, we make sense of the world by either updating our assumptions or by changing the world to make our assumptions true. And both of these arise spontaneously from our drive to make things more predictable”. Think about it, isn't this the dilemma we are trying to solve by meditating? Which one will we choose?

I don't see this as a binary choice between (1) updating our assumptions, or (2) striving to make our assumptions be true. I think there is a third alternative which I'd call "accepting the unfathomable nature of existence." It's much harder to do but that third alternative, IMHO, is where our practice ultimately takes us.

Thoughts?
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Sure, what I see is that "updating our assumptions" is the gist of practice. You sort of climb the ladder of the POI (whichever is being used) and in each step, the assumption you have about that particular object of observation, is changed, worked through.  The end result is a global change in which "accepting the unfathomable nature of existence" becomes the working assumption.  It's the ultimate "conservation of brain energy"  of "minimizing surprise"  
Martin, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Chris Marti
I don't see this as a binary choice between (1) updating our assumptions, or (2) striving to make our assumptions be true. I think there is a third alternative which I'd call "accepting the unfathomable nature of existence." It's much harder to do but that third alternative, IMHO, is where our practice ultimately takes us.
Thoughts?


My thoughts are that it is unfathomably coincidental that you should say this. Only this morning I heard the same thing said in a talk on investing. The fellow said that, what you should learn from being surprised (by something happening in the market) is not that you need to update your models, but that the world is surprising, and one should learn to plan in a way that can withstand surprises, rather than try to model in a way that eliminates surprises. I thought, wow, that really speaks to what I seeing going on under the general heading of being alive and watching what is going on. And then here you are, actually saying it in that context. 

Another thing I have been noticing about assumptions recently is that it sucks to be right. If my mind figures something out regarding a complex issue, such as politics, so that all the pieces of information that I have line up perfectly, and I see the answer that is right, it is clear to me that I am just going to end up clinging to it, and hating or pitting people who have not had the privilege of seeing it, and getting defensive when information that contradicts my brilliance shows up.  In terms of happiness, I'm better off not figuring it out. My current policy, when the coin drops or the light bulb goes on, is to try not to get sucked into it. 
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Chris Marti, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Yeah, don't worry, be happy.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."
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J W, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

Posts: 366 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
I wonder about the relationship between 'assumptions' and 'ignorance' or 'delusion/dukkha'.
We can have correct or incorrect assumptions, but the word implies that we don't actually 'know'.  In that sense, even if the assumption turns out to be correct, it's not 'knowing'.  
So it seems to me we may be able to apply the Noble Eightfold Path/Four noble truths to the concept of assumptions, and say that in some sense the 'goal' (or perhaps, a result) of practice is to better understand assumptions for what they are, in the same sense that we say we practice to better understand suffering for what it is, which is done through insight.
(I would say 'lessen' our assumptions, but that's maybe not the best word choice, though I would say practically speaking, 'lessen' is not a bad word).

In any case, I agree with both Angel and Chris here. Don't worry, be happy emoticon
And TGIF!
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J W, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

Posts: 366 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Well it looked like my post disappeared, but for some reason my old post shows up when I make a new post?
So I'll just add on to my previous post with this,

For one example, let's take some of the most basic assumptions, like the assumption that when I go to sleep tonight, I will wake up tomorrow alive and well. Or, that when I take a step, my foot will land safely on the pavement. It sounds kind of scary to think that we actually don't know that these things are true, that living another day is not guaranteed, and that we won't get sideswiped by a car before our foot hits the ground.  But I actually think that's kind of "where it's at" in terms of realizing and accepting the present... if that makes any sense.
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Chris Marti, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Martin -

Another thing I have been noticing about assumptions recently is that it sucks to be right. If my mind figures something out regarding a complex issue, such as politics, so that all the pieces of information that I have line up perfectly, and I see the answer that is right, it is clear to me that I am just going to end up clinging to it, and hating or pitting people who have not had the privilege of seeing it, and getting defensive when information that contradicts my brilliance shows up.  In terms of happiness, I'm better off not figuring it out. My current policy, when the coin drops or the light bulb goes on, is to try not to get sucked into it. 

It's great to be right about things, and it's great not to get attached to being right about things. Isn't the point of this to not get caught up in being right? Or being wrong? Isn't the point of all this practice to be happy... regardless?

emoticon


My thoughts are that it is unfathomably coincidental that you should say this. Only this morning I heard the same thing said in a talk on investing. The fellow said that, what you should learn from being surprised (by something happening in the market) is not that you need to update your models, but that the world is surprising, and one should learn to plan in a way that can withstand surprises, rather than try to model in a way that eliminates surprises. I thought, wow, that really speaks to what I seeing going on under the general heading of being alive and watching what is going on. And then here you are, actually saying it in that context. 

My day job involves economic forecasting and yes, there are pretty clear similarities between how one should think about using an economic projection and how we humans should think about how our minds work. I think these are sorta similar modeling issues. One thing you learn quickly in economic or financial modeling is how "acts of god" or instances of "force majeure" can upend even the best models. This has happened twice now in my career: the Great Financial Recession in 2008 and the current COVID-19 Pandemic. The same kind of thing applies to the mind's models of reality. There will always be huge surprises - totally unanticipated occurrences.

We use Monte Carlo simiulations in forecasting, which is basically running thousands, even millions, of iterations of a model under different conditions and assumptions, to see what could happen. My guess is that the parallel process the mind uses is what we call imagination, or maybe even fret, worry, and anxiety.

Of course, in both the case of forecasting and imigining, we are bound mostly to what we know, to our past, for ideas about what could go right or wrong. Then the universe does its thing and shocks us with something totally unforseen and unforseeable.
George S, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

Posts: 1489 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
The most important lesson I learned in trading is that the need to be right (clinging views) will get you killed quicker than anything else. In order to survive you need to enter every trade under the assumption that you are wrong and anything can happen. If the market doesn't prove the position correct immediately then you cut it, regardless of your feelings or views. For anyone who is interested I highly recommend a short book called Phantom of the Pits (attached - check out his 2 rules). Of the scores of books I've read on trading and investing, it's the only one which actually helped me to make money!
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Pepe, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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George S:
If the market doesn't prove the position correct immediately then you cut it, regardless of your feelings or views


Couldn't agree more. Surf the wave. I used to have a sell-stop order
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J W, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

Posts: 366 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Just echoing on some of the previously made points here,
Another thought on assumption v. knowledge is that, though assumptions are not 'knowing', they may lead to knowledge.  But it is interesting to think how it's not always having correct assumption that leads to insight; being wrong is often a much greater teacher in this regard.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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I'm trying to place money management in the POI. Should it be under Misery or Disgust? emoticon
George S, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Arising & Passing it is then XD
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 14 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

Posts: 189 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
     Now that we've resolved the money problem, I have another theme that is related to this thing about assumptions. In a recent interview on Sounds True: https://resources.soundstrue.com/transcript/daniel-goleman-phd-emotional-intelligence-now/Daniel Goleman talks about emotional intelligence. At one point he says, I think this may be why they emphasize doing a lot of practice in meditative traditions because what you’re doing is rewiring your brain in meditation practice. And ideally, your aspiration, it would get to a point where you can keep your equilibrium no matter what emotion floats through, and no matter how strong that emotion is. I think it takes a lot of work to get there. In other threads, I have championed the view that this is something that has to be understood from the very start, and that, if done from the beginning, the dark night will be less traumatic. I know, I know, that the content of thought-emotions is not equally heavy for all people. That's the point, that applying effort to making the connection between body and mind interactions, and finding the “equilibrium” in simple matters, is a necessary preparation. Listen to the interview, there's a lot of good stuff there.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 10 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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If you want to think about where your practice is taking you, this essay will surely do that. Don't be fooled by the title, it's a trip through Zen, Burmese Theravada, Centering Prayer, and Phenomenology that begs the question, What exactly do you think you are doing?
Why Buddhists Taught Zen Meditation to Christians- Robert Sharf
2019, Meditation in Buddhist-Christian Encounter: A Critical Analysis, edited by Elizabeth J. Harris and JohnO’Grady https://www.academia.edu/37431629/Why_Buddhists_Taught_Zen_Meditation_to_Christians
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 6 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

Posts: 189 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
      How does a particular form of practice become dominant and established as a “lineage”? Even in recent times, the view of one man has been enough to create a whole new school of practice. Probably, the offer of results that are sought after, and the enticement of quick results have a lot to do with the growth and permanence of these schools. Some of the older cases of this phenomenon have persisted for centuries. Die-hard enthusiasts of any particular school keep the flame alive, sometimes downplaying the evident failures in morality and outright despicable behavior of the founder. These schools become closed loops where the sanctioning of “experiences” has to come from within the hierarchy, perpetuating a dedicated and loyal following.      Recent scientific studies suggest that the functioning of individual brains are, like fingerprints, unique.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCymeuQECOs Also, that the technique used in practice leaves a distinctive neural pattern that is distinguishable from others. It may be too early to know how this information will be applied but it has been suggested that it can be used to tailor practices suitable for particular types of brain functioning. I suppose it can also be used to weed out practices that cause ill effects in the brain, such as those that have been reported with some of the newer modalities (lineages) that are spreading.

​​​​​​​     Just food for thought.
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Pepe, modified 5 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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Shinzen Young speculates that AI would be the great breakthrough (at least regarding concentration), as its software would detect the specifics of each brain and so be the Zen monk with the stick in hand ready to remind you to get back to your object of preference.  
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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     There's no doubt that technology will play a big role in the future dissemination of meditation. The proliferation of apps is a sign of what will come. As more information about the workings of the brain is available, machines will probably be devised that can take a reading of individuals and recommend a suitable practice. There's already a precedent for such interventions with the use of the EEG machines that started being used in meditation studies in the 1960's https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnsys.2020.00053/full.     The more problematic issue, that I see, is that the push is to eventually medicalize meditation. As touched on in the article I posted above (Robert Shaff), What will be the result of removing practices from the religious context in which they were created? How will you explain, or put in context, the experiences that are sure to occur?  We'll see.
George S, modified 5 Days ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy thinking ahead

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I don't think that medicine is necessarily a more problematic context for meditation than religion. For every fault I can find with medicine, I can find an equally compelling fault with religion!

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