OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Johnny Froth, modified 9 Years ago.

OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Posts: 59 Join Date: 1/25/12 Recent Posts
Once upon a time, long long ago, there was a man who was interested in being physically strong. His name is lost in time, but we'll call him Arnold. Now back in those olden days, people had almost no knowledge of anatomy and physiology. But Arnold was a determined man. He tried lots of the strengthening methods of the day, but none satisfied him until he stumbled upon, almost by accident, a peculiar method involving lots of physical movement, especially those involving picking up larger and larger lumps of metal and then putting them down again. Of course, he also continued the most popular contemporary methods, such as mixing potions and consuming them, acting in theater, and sometimes uttering obscure phrases such as "Ahllbebak" and "Hastalaveestabaybay".

Astonishingly for the people of that time, Arnold's muscles grew huge. *Really* huge. His overall physique blossomed. In fact, compared with the ordinary man in the street, Arnold became like a god. However, being a nice chap, he realized that what he had achieved could probably be achieved by other people, so he wrote it all down as part diary and part training schedule. Of course he wrote in the vernacular of the day, and his ability to explain exactly which parts of his regime were important and which weren't was somewhat limited. It was clear that he had done something profound; it just wasn't clear what.

Fast forward 2,500 years to the present day, and the era of modern science. It is still possible to repeat what Arnold did, but now we know exactly what it was and why it worked. We have actually improved and refined a lot of it. And we have been able to remove some aspects of it, unearthing what were actually the "active ingredients" and what were mere filler. We now know that what is going on is *nothing more* than the use of progressive overloading (and in many cases some anabolic steroids etc) to achieve muscle hypertrophy. The science is pretty much clear on the whole lot.

OK. So what's the deal with all this meditation and stream entry and jhanas and uncle Tom Cobbly and all? Is meditation "nothing more" than the analog of progressive overloading? Is enlightement and all the trimmings nothing more than the analog of big pecs and a six pack?

Are we simply -- *nothing more than* -- in a situation where the neural science is just still a wee bit underdeveloped, such that we can't *yet* explain the whole shebang with science?

Or is there something else going on?

I imagine some will say that these questions are irrelevant but come on, I'm not the only one who has asked this question? When weird shit goes on (much bigger than average muscles, much greater than average ability to concentrate (or whatever it is that all this jhanas stuff gets you)), I ask "WTF -- what's going on?". And I know I'm not the only one emoticon
thumbnail
Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
How about getting some basic instruction, sitting for an hour a day for a month and then telling us what happened? You'll find that far more productive than a post like this.
Johnny Froth, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Posts: 59 Join Date: 1/25/12 Recent Posts
Bagpuss The Gnome:
How about getting some basic instruction, sitting for an hour a day for a month and then telling us what happened?


I already am. Not sure who "us" is though. Are you a spokesperson for a wider group or something?

Bagpuss The Gnome:
You'll find that far more productive than a post like this.


Reasonable minds could infer a criticism from the "like this". Was that your intent?
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
OK. So what's the deal with all this meditation and stream entry and jhanas and uncle Tom Cobbly and all? Is meditation "nothing more" than the analog of progressive overloading? Is enlightement and all the trimmings nothing more than the analog of big pecs and a six pack?

Are we simply -- *nothing more than* -- in a situation where the neural science is just still a wee bit underdeveloped, such that we can't *yet* explain the whole shebang with science?

Or is there something else going on?

I imagine some will say that these questions are irrelevant but come on, I'm not the only one who has asked this question? When weird shit goes on (much bigger than average muscles, much greater than average ability to concentrate (or whatever it is that all this jhanas stuff gets you)), I ask "WTF -- what's going on?". And I know I'm not the only one

What is it that you want to know? Your post isn't very clear, from what you've said it seems that you're looking to talk about the process of enlightenment in terms of neurology or that you're looking for a more scientific discussion of what sort of changes occur as a result of these sorts of practice. Would that be correct?

I suspect that the response given by Bagpuss The Gnome had more to do with the general emphasis on practical meditation techniques found on this site, not a criticism as you seem to have interpreted it. The majority of us, by which I mean this community as a whole, are mainly interested in the nuts and bolts, phenomenological descriptions of what we experience during meditation and not the neurological side of things, mainly because most of us aren't qualified or knowledgeable enough in that area to discuss it in any useful or practical way.

If you're looking for scientific discussion and speculation then you may find you've come to the wrong place, however if you're looking to discuss your practice and the results you obtain then you may find this site more helpful. It may be worth asking yourself what sort of benefit it would be to you were you to find out that meditation was ""nothing more" than the analog of progressive overloading? Would it change the way you approached things? What difference would it make to the way in which you practice?
Johnny Froth, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Posts: 59 Join Date: 1/25/12 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
What is it that you want to know? Your post isn't very clear, from what you've said it seems that you're looking to talk about the process of enlightenment in terms of neurology or that you're looking for a more scientific discussion of what sort of changes occur as a result of these sorts of practice. Would that be correct?

Honestly, I was hoping for the opposite. If all this is is some mental training that we'll eventually figure out how to do with some drugs (say), well it's a bit disappointing. It wasn't what I hoped. If that is all it is, well fine. And would that be bad? Well no, perhaps not. But it's not what I thought.

Tommy M:
It may be worth asking yourself what sort of benefit it would be to you were you to find out that meditation was ""nothing more" than the analog of progressive overloading? Would it change the way you approached things? What difference would it make to the way in which you practice?

If that's all it was, I think I'd stop, just the way I stopped weight training. I no longer desire a physical six pack, and I'm not too bothered about getting a mental one either. I don't criticize anyone for wanting one, but for me personally. Meh.

But so let me give an example of something that does inspire me to move forwards in this stuff (and I am actually practicing while I nip y'all's ears with questions, honest :grinemoticon. The self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc is, for me, iconic. To have done that I reckon he must have achieved something like incredible control over his own actions and thoughts, deep *deep* stability and confidence in his place in the cosmos, and, perhaps most important, a profound level of love and empathy for people he'd never even met.

Now that -- becoming able to emulate him, even if I never actually go ahead to do that specific act -- *that*, for me, is something worth sitting on my ass on a cushion for years while trembling through the odd dark night or six.
thumbnail
Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Apologies for the misunderstanding, I see where you're coming from and having read more of your posts I can understand more now. Hopefully you'll get the answers you're looking for anyway, and going by your clearly strong intent to find out as much about this stuff as you can I don't think it'll prove much of a problem.
Johnny Froth, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: OK, enough with the "Why?", now the "What?"

Posts: 59 Join Date: 1/25/12 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
Apologies for the misunderstanding, I see where you're coming from and having read more of your posts I can understand more now. Hopefully you'll get the answers you're looking for anyway, and going by your clearly strong intent to find out as much about this stuff as you can I don't think it'll prove much of a problem.


Thanks Tommy. Like a drowning man, I think I've exhausted myself a bit for the time being with asking questions, so for now I'm just trying to settle into getting the practice done, and a bit of background musing when I can't help myself. We'll see what happens. And in the meantime, this looks like a good place with good folk, so I'll hang out here for the time being.

Breadcrumb