Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/6/23 9:04 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Superkatze one 2/6/23 10:51 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/6/23 11:33 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? T DC 2/6/23 10:58 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/6/23 11:42 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? T DC 2/6/23 12:21 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/6/23 1:05 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? T DC 2/6/23 1:49 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Olivier S 2/6/23 5:21 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/7/23 9:42 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Ben V. 2/6/23 10:09 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Chris M 2/7/23 11:44 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/8/23 9:16 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Chris M 2/8/23 10:45 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Michal 2/7/23 4:52 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Aeon . 2/8/23 6:57 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/8/23 9:26 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Aeon . 2/8/23 9:42 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/8/23 10:05 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Ben V. 2/8/23 10:35 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/8/23 11:09 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Chris M 2/8/23 11:17 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/9/23 8:30 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Chris M 2/9/23 8:39 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Aeon . 2/8/23 3:42 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Carlos Ramirez 2/9/23 9:15 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Jack Cameron Lloyd 2/9/23 7:31 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Chris M 2/9/23 9:45 AM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Chris M 2/9/23 12:45 PM
RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment? Matt Jon Rousseau 2/15/23 5:44 AM
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 9:04 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 9:04 AM

Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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I have this hypothesis that taking antipsychotics would knock someone out of enlightenment. I got the idea from this book, which posits that what psychiatry calls psychotic states can in fact, also be spiritual. Nobody believes enlightenment would survive getting a lobotomy and antipsychotics are not that, but they are no joke either.

Daniel Ingram is very interested in the science of enlightenment right? I think this would be a useful experiment for him to take on. There's a lot of research to be done along these lines e.g. try the various antipsychotics and their various dosages to see which ones (if any) knock him out of nirvana. Is he still in this forum?
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Superkatze one, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 10:51 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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You have it backwards. Long term meditators show increased Gamma Wave Amplitudes in the Brain which counteract the reduction of the same waves seen in Schizophrenia. Enlightenment itself is probably the best antipsychotic you can get. 
T DC, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 10:58 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 10:58 AM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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So anyone who has gained some insight should go on a psych med bender to prove it?  ;)  Obvious it's an unrealistic idea.

While it may be possible (and very interesting) to view psychotic states through a spiritual lens, it's a mistake to conflate them with genuine insight, which is very much it's own thing.  And the permanence of insight is it's truly unique feature.  In that respect I would argue genuine insight would survive a lobotomy with ease, although the physical anatomy and psychic mental context for it might be destroyed.  

So I'll see your psychotropic meds and raise you a lobotomy. 
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 11:33 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 11:33 AM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Well, psychosis is not quite the same thing as schizophrenia. And basically, my question is one that can be settled empirically. We can speculate all we want, but it is an empirical question that can be answered through experimentation.
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 11:42 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 11:42 AM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@T Dc
So anyone who has gained some insight should go on a psych med bender to prove it?

Well, it's not about proving it. I think even if an antipsychotic knocked you out of nirvana, that doesn't mean the nirvana wasn't real. It would just teach you something about the neurochemistry of nirvana.

As to nirvana surviving a lobotomy, well, that is quite the view. I don't think consciousness depends on the brain, but the two are definitely entangled while we have a body, and what affects one, affects the other. A lobotomy is extremely invasive. I don't see how the mind can come out the other side of it in the same state.
T DC, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 12:21 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 12:18 PM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Carlos Ramirez
I don't think consciousness depends on the brain, but the two are definitely entangled while we have a body, and what affects one, affects the other. A lobotomy is extremely invasive. I don't see how the mind can come out the other side of it in the same state.

I don't see how, assuming the experience of insight is dependent on physical brain structures (which is a significant assumption), non-specific brain damage such as a lobotomy would remove that particular unique aspect of experience. See what I mean? It would definitely cause serious negative changes, but there's no reason it would un-flip the insight switch specifically.

And everything's relative - does all brain trauma at a certain threshold destroy insight, from a lobotomy on down to concussions?  What if, beyond anti-psychotics, an enlightened person took psychedelics - what effect would that have?

Speaking from personal experience, having experienced a long path of significant insight, followed both by several serious concussions and psychedelic experiences, neither form of brain chemistry and structure alteration had any effect whatsoever on my baseline experience of attainment (although they did effect my mental experience more generally, obviously).

The miracle of insight is that it exists beyond such relative causes and conditions, and once accessed can never be destroyed - hence a genuine and permenant end to suffering.
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 1:05 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 1:04 PM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@T Dc
And everything's relative - does all brain trauma at a certain threshold destroy insight, from a lobotomy on down to concussions?  What if, beyond anti-psychotics, an enlightened person took psychedelics - what effect would that have?

Well, see, that's an interesting empirical question. Though of course, it would be dark science to try to test the limits of nirvana via deliberately inflicting concussions or an actual lobotomy. Hence antipsychotics, which are relatively safe, particularly since they will mostly only be taken for about 3 months or so, at increasing dosages.

It isn't surprising that you didn't lose insight through psychedelics. Naively, they are both a kind of elevated state, so there shouldn't be conflict. Did you have a bad trip though? Well, as I recall Ingram said getting to enlightenment involves cycling through Dark Night of the Soul phases, and those are basically bad trips, so maybe I can believe even that wouldn't do away with enlightenment. 

The concussions are more surprising though. You didn't lose insight for even a little bit while concussed? How could you be sure you remember that correctly?

Also, why do you call it insight? You believe you have an attainment that isn't nirvana, or are you just using a different term for the same thing?

And anyway, sounds like you could get in touch with the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium and run my hypothesis by them. If you do the experiment, they could definitely get a paper out of it.
T DC, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 1:49 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 1:49 PM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Carlos, I suggest you get in touch with the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium yourself given you are so interested in this topic.  Or simply meditate diligently and fervently enough for whatever length of time it takes for you to achieve genuine attainment, and then run your own personal clinical trial with escalating anti-psychotic doses (lol, and not actually recommended).  And if the insight goes away, you'll know you weren't really enlightened.  ;)
Olivier S, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 5:21 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 5:21 PM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Hi Carlos,

Glad to see you are enjoying my colleague Brian's recently published book ! yay ! It seems to be getting some attention which is awesome, as he spent a long time on this research. We both work for Emergence Benefactors and are part of the EPRC.

Did you realize that Daniel Ingram wrote the preface to that book, though ? It doesn't show in your writing.

Anyways, one may wonder if IRB could be obtained for such research: I would guess not.

Best,

Olivier
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Ben V, modified 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 10:09 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/6/23 10:06 PM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Hi Carlos,

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems you see Nirvana as a state in the same sense that other states are ''states''.  Although I cannot claim to have realized Nirvana, the Buddha often stated that Nirvana is the end of greed, aversion and delusion. So it's more of a shift in how the mind relates to experience, by no longer grasping and identifying with any states. 

The following does not equate to this (though may somewhat relate so here it is): I was in surgery this morning, with general anasthesia (and I also think combined with local ones): surgeries on three hernias in my abdominal wall. Now, I've done massive amounts of meditation for years. In the last few days I primed myself doing lots of spiritual practices: meditation, metta, flower offerings, etc. I was doing metta on the operation table in the moments before my brain was anasthesiczed.

When I woke up, really groggy and weird, I began spontaneously reciting Pali verses for some reason (that I didn't recite in a long time) accompanied with a sense of gratitude for the Dhamma. Even while my wife greeted me to help me leave the surgery center, later saying I looked lost and confused, yet I remember it all and underneath that there was a sense of Presence, of mindful lucidity and being clear about the Dhamma, along with the feeling of gratitude mentioned earlier. Hopefully this doesn't sound like spiritual arrogance but that's how it felt and still feels as I type (oh but also feeling physical pain!). It seems that lots of meditation left traces in the mind that carried over even in that state. 

I can only imagine into what a fully realized mind can carry over into. I read about lobotomy's effect being mainly states of emotional disconnection, apathy, passivity. Why wouldn't a ''Nibannized'' mind affected by those states not be able to remain without grasping amongst them? As for antipsychotics, they lead to drowsiness, and other states where it seems possible to have mindfulness. 
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/7/23 9:42 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/7/23 9:42 AM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@oliviers

I always skip the prefaces of books, so no, I didn't see that. Will check out what he had to say there. Would IRB really stop this if the experimenter is experimenting on himself? Are antipsychotics seen as that dangerous?

@benvipassana

Well, it's good that you feel that way, but the surgery was just this morning. I have had the experience of what seemed like deep insights that later cleared up, and that won't necessarily happen to you, but I wouldn't attach a lot of meaning to it at this stage. If you still have it three months from now, that's another matter.

So lobotomy is something that severely impairs the functioning of the mind. I don't see how a mind that heavily impaired could remain in nirvana. Nirvana has to be something with neurological correlates and so stuff that messes with neurology (lobotomy, antipsychotics, brain tumor) must be capable of messing with nirvana. And to be clear, this doesn't mean we are nothing but meat, it's just another data point for the conclusion that brain and mind are very thoroughly entangled while we have a body.

I'm not even sure Buddha would disagree. If nirvana has no neurological correlates, that would mean it happens somewhere in the soul, whose existence Buddha denied.
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/7/23 11:44 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Carlos, what is your working definition of enlightenment?
Michal, modified 1 Year ago at 2/7/23 4:52 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/7/23 4:51 PM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Consciousness can be incread or decreased even after realizing what is beyond states of consciousness.

Hence why Daniel still goes on retreats.

Assuming antipsychotics decrease your consciousness (which is debatable, but I think everyone can easily see how it would be so) it would make it harder to get Paths.

​​​​​​​Same way samatha jhanas can help or the lack of them can hinder you. Even though they are "JuSt StaTeS of ConsciOusneSs".
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Aeon , modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 6:57 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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What do you hope to learn from such an experiment?

It seems akin to breaking a diamond. Even if it can be done, how is that information of benefit to anyone?
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 9:16 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@chrismarti

When I say enlightenment, I mean Buddhist nirvana.
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 9:26 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 9:26 AM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@aeon

Well, depending on what exactly happens as a result (which antipsychotics and which dosages have an effect, if any, and which don't) it would teach us something about the neurochemistry of nirvana. Which I suppose would teach us that there in fact is a neurochemistry of nirvana in the first place. There's a chance nothing would happen, because it does happen that some people don't get any effect from antipsychotics, so ideally the experiment wouldn't be done on just one enlightened person, but as many as could be convinced. Actually, if a no effect result is pervasive, it could be taken as an argument against Buddha's position that there is no soul, because where the hell is nirvana happening if it has nothing to do with the brain!?
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Aeon , modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 9:42 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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I believe there are descriptions of the Buddha doing what you might call astral projection - soul travel. Furthermore, soul might be an inaccurate translation, as he did talk about rebirth (which would require what we commonly call a soul in western thinking).<br /><br />Even then, soul or no soul, there could be other channels and mechanisms containing enlightenment that have nothing to do with soul or brain, that you and I know as little about as ants know about electrons.<br /><br />Even more, the brain is absurdly complex, and neuroscience has long moved past the futile attempt of reducing explainations of it to mere chemistry and transmitters. There are also, for one example, complicated network activity. That is to say, the pathways and parts of the brain that certain neurochemicals are active in influence how their effects manifest.<br /><br />I think you just want to fuck with some arhats because why not.
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 10:05 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@aeon

Yes, and the complicated neuron activity is related to the neurotransmitters. Yes, the brain is a real mess, but psychiatric medication can have an effect on it, even if with the current state of our knowledge we can't quite explain exactly why these medications have the effects they do. About positing something that is neither soul nor brain, I suppose Buddha was trying to get at that, but Adi Shankara argued pretty persuasively against this view, and anyway, such a position is just too esoteric for me. Hence my experiment, which is rather concrete.<br /><br />About wanting to fuck with arhats, well, it could be useful to dispel the notion that they are so spiritually developed. It's not like nirvana gives you super powers, and my daily life does not consist of suffering, so what exactly is the point of nirvana? I do have a beef the with the contemplatives and recluses of all religions, and it is that they make it seem like what they are doing is the most important thing, when in fact, the first and last spiritual task is to be of service to others. And to be fair, Ingram did emphasize the importance of sila (though he went with such a broad definition of it that it is difficult to see how one could fail at it), and in his life, he did great sila by being a doctor! But my contention is that sila is more important than nirvana, and it seems this is a view that gets lost in the mix for various meditators and psychonauts.
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Ben V, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 10:35 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Carlos,

Have you known of contemplatives that are not of service to others? Even the jungle enlightenend recluses in Asia end up benefiting many around them. And can one serve well if self-grasping is not seen through enough (which enlightenment does)?

Daniel Ingram not only talks of sila nor just practiced medecine, he made MCTB free for all! He also freely coached many who were struggling in their practice. And advanced practitioners here constantly help with advice to us still not enlightened, freely. 

My own practice was a major factor (if not the factor) that inspired me to do what I do to help others (social worker and psychotherapist, regular blood donor, etc). Reduction in self-contraction naturally opens the mind to the rest of creation in a benevolent way, as far as I can understand and experience. However, how one serves may be different from one person to the next. And there does not seem to be perfection in any kind of fairy-tale type saintlyhood. 

Also, I think Chris really asked a really important question: what is your working definition of enlightenment/Nirvana? You haven't really answered that question.

What is it exactly that you are thinking can be affected by antipsychotics?
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 10:45 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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When I say enlightenment, I mean Buddhist nirvana.

I assumed you meant that, but my question is this: what is your working definition of Buddhist enlightenment? What are the defining characteristics? What is different about it than having a non-enlightened mind?
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 11:09 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@benvipassana

Well, yeah, lots of contemplatives do no good. You do more good having a regular job and donating to charity by being an effective altruist than you do by locking yourself up in a cave or monastery, which doesn't help anyone. Ingram doesn't do that to be fair, and he is still doing sila by working with the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium, though I still think being a doctor was much better sila and find it a little suspicious that the retired before his time.

And it's absolutely amazing that your practice took you to the point that you actively started helping the world! But fundamentally, no deep insight needs to be attained to reach that conclusion: certainly quite a lot of seculars who don't believe in any of this already do that. People who start engaging with spirituality really must be informed, gently, but sternly, that spirituality 101 involves donating to charity and/or volunteering. That it is a central part of the spiritual life to lead a life of service. And I think many people already believe that, but one does not see it very much. Certainly I once treated these matters as simply a quest for esoteric mindstates and nothing more.

As to nirvana, well, I can't articulate what nirvana is, if I could I would already have that. I know people claim nirvana is not a state, but then you can attain nirvana, but then some claim you have always been in nirvana. So seeing past the esoterism, I do claim nirvana is a state of mind, or if you really want to be precise, a subtle shift in how the mind behaves. And the mind is entangled with the brain, so what affects the brain, affects the mind. Come to think of it, the experiment can be much simpler: is someone blackout drunk still in nirvana? Maybe Ingram would say some interesting things about nirvana if you got him wasted. But there's a limit to what drunkenness can do: you can't drink someone out of a psychosis, for example. Hence why it would be worthwhile to try antipsychotics.
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 11:17 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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As to nirvana, well, I can't articulate what nirvana is, if I could I would already have that.

So Carlos, if we can't have a fairly solid definition of enlightenment that describes its attributes and allows us to say, "This is enlightenment and that is not enlightenment," how do we conduct an experiment that comes to any useful conclusions?
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/9/23 8:30 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 12:41 PM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@chrismarti

Well, that's why the experiment needs to be on someone in nirvana. If it knocks them out of nirvana, they will know, and will be able to report on that. It's not necessary to be able to articulate what nirvana is, I thought everyone is in agreement that that can't be done anyway, and yet, some people attain nirvana regardless. How do these people know they have attained nirvana if nirvana is indescribable? I suspect all the esoteric, cryptic descriptions of nirvana now make sense to them, that's how they know. And some of them I suppose have teachers who back them up on that, but no one can read minds, so I am not sure how much stock can be put in a teacher declaring you enlightened. Particularly when Ingram himself got pushback from his teachers when he claimed enlightenment. I don't even remember if his teachers ever changed their minds on that. It is certainly an interesting question why we have collectively decided Ingram is enlightened, as it's not like any evidence can be produced for that assertion.
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Aeon , modified 1 Year ago at 2/8/23 3:42 PM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@mooseburger

bruh...

You have a problem with arhats because some have acquired it in solitude, without (supposedly) providing enough sila to the world to deserve it?

Talk all you want about neuroscience and neurochemistry and how it relates to enlightenment that you don't define clearly or the unknowable existence of a soul to carry it if the brains fails to.

Suppose I have a genie in a bottle, with one out of three wishes remaining. You can have that last wish, but you have to tell me in crystal clear, can't-be-misunderstood-by-a-five-year-old words what you wish for?
What's all this really for?
Jack Cameron Lloyd, modified 1 Year ago at 2/9/23 7:31 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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I think Enlightenment isn't the gain of something but the end of something. It's death. Death of identity. How can you end something that represents the permanent end of something? 
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/9/23 8:39 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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Carlos, I'm asking you this question because you're operating from a mistaken view of what enlightenment/nirvana is. You're assuming it is some permanent state of mind that gets flipped "on" at some point and then can potentially be flipped "off" at some later point in time. That's not how it works. It's not a state of mind. It's the learned ability to grok the nature of the mind and how it works to process sensory input, to tell stories that we assume to be true, and then use that wisdom (wisdom in the Buddhist sense - of knowing) to see the processing of the human experience in real-time. When we can do that, we can experience life free of the habitual and unexamined aversions (stories) that we develop over a lifetime because we know how to avoid the old habit of believing the stories the mind tells us. You're looking in the wrong place.
Carlos Ramirez, modified 1 Year ago at 2/9/23 9:15 AM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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@aeon

It's not about deserving, you don't earn nirvana. It's just that one can get the impression sila is not that important, and more should be done to correct that common misconception.

> Enlightenment that you don't define clearly

I don't understand why this is a sticking point. No one can define enlightenment clearly, this is very firmly established. People can certainly know whether they have it, though.

> What's all this really for?

Well, like I said, it could be useful to establish there is a neurochemistry to nirvana. It would advance science and our understanding of nirvana. Nirvana having a neurochemistry would cause despair in some people, but it's something you can get over with, as nirvana being tied to neurology doesn't actually mean we are nothing but meat.

@Jack Cameron Lloyd

Well, nothing ends that isn't something else starting. And Ingram would disagree that enlightenment is just the death of identity. That is an aspect of it, but it's not all of it.

@chrismarti

The assertion nirvana cannot be affected by the state of the brain is fundamentally something that can be tested empirically by messing with the state of the brain. If we actually are interested in the science of nirvana, we have to test such things, instead of taking such assertions by fiat.
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/9/23 9:45 AM
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Did I say nirvana can't be affected by the state of the brain? What I said was that your operating model of nirvana is flawed. And it is. 
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Chris M, modified 1 Year ago at 2/9/23 12:45 PM
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RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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The assertion nirvana cannot be affected by the state of the brain is fundamentally something that can be tested empirically by messing with the state of the brain. If we actually are interested in the science of nirvana, we have to test such things, instead of taking such assertions by fiat.

May I ask what causes your preoccupation with this particular issue? It appears to me from reading this topic that you have a reason for starting this topic that goes beyond the OP. The language you use gives this away:

"... knock him out of nirvana."
"... messing with the state of the brain."

I'm just curious. It seems personal to me. Maybe about Daniel Ingram?
Matt Jon Rousseau, modified 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 5:44 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 2/15/23 5:44 AM

RE: Would antipsychotics end enlightenment?

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I actually read that stream entry is a permanent  shift tou can't fall back from. At least from certain authors. 

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