BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
On Chris's suggestion, I've started a continuation of this thread.  Without the comment tree we had before, the "more messages" button has to be used continuously. Despite the heavy thinking, I didn't know what to do. I suppose this is the only solution for now. After all, Chris knows best, ( just like Papa).
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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Someone, hopefully, is busy thinking heavily about how to fix the DhO's "More Messages" conundrum.

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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
This is a recap of the last entries to the previous thread:

 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.

Pepe: 
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.  

Angel:
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:
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!
Angel:
I agree that religion has caused its own set of problems. Especially in the authoritarianism and secretiveness that Pragmatic Dharma rebels against.  I much prefer a scientific approach to practice.  But the problem remains, that the insights have to be put in a cohesive context, otherwise the problems that can arise will not be properly addressed.  The "spiritual" emergencies are real and psychology is not broadly prepared to handle them. There is also concern about the role ethics will take in this new situation.  But, at the moment, it's just wait-and-see. 

The question is open, What's the future of meditation?​​​​​​​
George S, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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This article says that 14% of American adults had tried meditation in 2017, up from 4% in 2012. 

I did a google trends search on "meditation" which showed a similar trend (and interestingly "buddhism" dropped over the same period)


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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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It's interesting to see that the secularization of meditation moves it away from exclusive identification with Buddhism. Also that there is a kind of lumping together of different modalities:The CDC survey considered meditation to be “the act of engaging in mental exercise to reach a heightened level of spiritual awareness or mindfulness.” This could include: transcendental meditation or other forms of mantra meditation; mindfulness meditation, such as Zen Buddhist meditation or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy; and spiritual meditation based on prayer or other contemplative thoughts.” Surprise! The CDC involved with meditation? The study was done in 2017, I bet the numbers are higher now. Especially with people trying to cope with the effects of the pandemic.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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     From the early contacts with the meditative traditions, there has been an effort to understand the essential principle of all practices. A Rosetta stone of sorts. I think an argument can be made that this principle is so simple that it is lost in the observation of the effects that are caused by applying it. Furthermore, that no matter how many effects are experienced or insights had, it's only the ongoing application of this principle that keeps the practitioner “fit for life”.
     I'll use the work of two psychiatrists and a refrain from the Buddha to make my point.
     The first psychiatrist is Arthur J. Deikman who theorized that the “psychological structures that organize, limit, select, and interpret perceptual stimuli” are automatic as a way of conserving energy. What he called “mystic practice” led to a “de-automatization”, “conceptualized as the undoing of automatization, presumably by reinvesting actions and percepts with attention.”
     The other is Hubert Benoit, for him, it is “a state of pure voluntary attention” that stops the “automatisms on the image-plane”. When you tell the mind “speak I am listening” the screen comes up blank. When the voluntary pure attention is relaxed, thoughts and images make their appearance.
​​​​​​​     Buddha said it clearly right at the start, “bring mindfulness to the front” and then he elaborated. This is the operating principle. After all is seen and done, this is what remains. Pay attention, this is the same at the beginning, the middle, and the continuation of practice. It just seems too simple. Singing odes to the sights seems more entertaining.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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    I had a teacher that always gave the same answer when presented with theories about practice, What does it mean? It was his way of keeping things down to earth. People are always asking about the meaning of their experiences. There is an effort on the part of science to create instruments that can measure the religious experience. I general, the conclusion so far is that "what counts as a religious experience is highly dependent on the interpretive frame that the individual, group, or tradition brings to it.”      
     There are two questionnaires that have been developed to gauge the “mystical” experience. One is the MEQ30, a refinement of the Pahnke-Richards Mystical Experience Questionnaire (MEQ). This test was originally formulated for studies about the use of psilocybin. It has been validated for use in other types of experiences. www.academia.edu/16569534/Validation_of_the_revised_Mystical_Experience_Questionnaire_in_experimental_sessions_with_psilocybin    Of course, the Buddhist were not to be outdone, they came up with the Nondual Awareness Dimensional Assessment (NADA) based on Buddhist philosophical teachings, Hanley, Nakamura, & Garland (2018)    psyarxiv.com/4h9m5/download?format=pdf   
     There are a lot of cool charts and lists in these two articles. Gauge ahead!  As for me, I still remember, What does it mean? In my daily life, with my family, with the strange people on the road, with those who antagonize without cause? Is my practice any help?
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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Emotions, authenticity. These are two difficult subjects from the phenomenological standpoint. Anyone who enters practice will have to deal with them. If you're interested, take a look at how being authentic can make you lose your job, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHr_Q5D-cNI or participate in this summit https://www.scienceandwisdomofemotions.com/ with the Dalai Lama and scientists. I'm getting emotional just thinking about it emoticon.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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     I once commented that as far as meditation goes this is a brave new world. I was accused then of being a hippie. emoticon Well, I continue to believe that the understanding of meditation that has been kicked off by Buddhist practice will eventually be more science-oriented, more in tune with body/mind functioning. This does not eliminate the factor of mystery that even top scientists have run into. But it will eliminate all the intentional and unintentional “newspeak” that confuses so many people and has them running in circles. This "sounds true" interview with Diana Winston is a good indication of where this is heading,https://resources.soundstrue.com/podcast/the-full-spectrum-of-awareness/
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
     Every day a new teacher appears who claims to have had a life-changing experience that they want to share with the world. That's fine, they will always find people who resonate with what they are saying and decide to follow their teaching. But Lord forbid they try to place their experience within the framework of any tradition. Then a multitude of voices will begin to explain how what they are saying doesn't fit exactly with this or that concept. Sometimes the criticism will come from scholars; if the voice becomes too prominent. Most of the time the arguments will come from people (especially in forums) who believe they manage these concepts perfectly. Although the honest people will admit that they aren't really experiencing (yet ?) the supposed effects of following these conceptual frameworks. As one youtube presenter says, you follow the teachings if you want to be “wiser, kinder, calmer”. So, are you on track?
     I think the real “awakening” is to the fact that what's involved is simply training. You train concentration, ethics, and this results in wisdom. Elaborate all you want, invent new takes on this, but if the bottom line doesn't include these factors you're wasting your time.
     Look into the field of epigenetics and you will find that this training (lifestyle) can have long term effects on a celular level. The changes are weaved into our organism. Practice, practice, practice, but do it well.
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Chris Marti, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

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For those who may want to know:

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Epigenetics
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In a sense somewhat unrelated to its use in any biological disciplines, the term "epigenetic" has also been used in developmental psychology to describe psychological development as the result of an ongoing, bi-directional interchange between heredity and the environment.
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Angel Roberto Puente, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: BEWARE: Heavy Thinking Ahead 2

Posts: 281 Join Date: 5/5/19 Recent Posts
     One of the advantages of the scientific method is that it provides a way of validating or debunking ancient ways of thinking about human functioning. More importantly, it facilitates a reformulation of the theories that have sustained the ancient way of thinking. I came in contact with the theories of body energetics in the yogic chakras and the Chinese tan-tien and chi views in my practice. When I was young I had a t-shirt with the chakras embroidered on the front that I wore until it was full of holes.
     Maybe some people will consider it a fault, but I can't fully accept any theory that I can't observe directly in practice. I was a phenomenologist even before I learned about it in an online college course in 2012.  Anyway, these days I have been pleasantly surprised with the mounting evidence that the brain actually spreads to the stomach and heart. Neurons are found grouped in both organs and communicate with the main mass in the head. This is something I had already noticed. (NOT the neurons!, the communication, sorry)  Since my practice was tan-tien (hara) breathing the first thing I observed was that breathing started in the lower yogic chakras and worked its way up to the crown of the head. In tan-tien theory, three tan-tiens follow this same direction. Closer observation demonstrated that thoughts produced a very distinctive reaction in these centers. Raw reactions such as fear were registered in the stomach (visceral?), emotional content in the heart, and all were mediated by tension. Just as “gripping” a thought, making it solid, was the mental reaction to identification in the mind, tightening in the body was its counterpart.
     This gives a definite direction to practice. If you want to be able to bring practice into daily life you have to manifest as a body-mind.  You have to get out of your head.  Or imitate, “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.” James Joyce, Dubliners

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