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Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?

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Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/9/12 10:39 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Florian 11/10/12 5:18 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/10/12 7:37 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Shashank Dixit 11/10/12 9:43 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/11/12 7:21 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Shashank Dixit 11/11/12 8:02 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/11/12 8:13 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Shashank Dixit 11/11/12 8:18 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Florian 11/11/12 2:11 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/11/12 8:06 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Florian 11/21/12 8:47 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/11/12 5:49 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Andy Coke 11/11/12 3:18 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/11/12 8:24 AM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/11/12 6:53 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? (D Z) Dhru Val 11/11/12 7:35 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Robert McLune 11/11/12 8:38 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? This Good Self 11/11/12 9:19 PM
RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice? Florian 11/11/12 11:04 PM
[This will be TL;DNR for anyone uninterested in QM. Don't feel bad about ignoring it.]

A bunch of things, some dating back several years, feel like they're converging for me, and converging onto the notion that it may be possible to use the study of physics - in particular Quantum Mechanics -- as a Vipassana practice (or at least as part of such). I know the mere mention of QM can ring alarm bells for many people who have seen that theoretical system abused by charlatans. All I can do on that front is hope you read a bit further and agree that I'm not in that particular game.

I'll base this on six stories/observations:

1: I found Eckhart Tolle's personal story of his own "epiphany" intriguing. The central point for him was the challenge presented to his mind of the phrase "I cannot live with myself". He spotted the duality there and, crash bang whallop, his life changed. He spent the next six months in non-psychotic bliss, and then mellowed back down into the fairly wide reaching phenomenon he is today. The part of this that I find significant is the nature of the thing that created his satori. It was an analytic effect, created by a statement. Koan-like perhaps. But he wasn't meditating in any meaningful way. Now this isn't physics obviously, but it is, as I say, analytic, and in that respect is similar.

2: Several years ago I had a mildly curious experience while driving my car. It was a beautiful clear day, with long visibility. For some time (maybe seconds) I found myself with a feeling that I was somehow "above" or "outside" the whole scene, looking in. Nothing in my *perception* had changed -- I was in no danger of crashing the car -- something else had. But significant in that is I was already well advanced in my study of physics and particularly the philosophical implications of QM. So I wasn't at all confused by the "above" experience. I knew exactly what was going on. I was beginning to see through the illusion of what we normally think of as "reality", and beginning to sense a hint of the underlying *actual* reality. Notice though -- what I'm describing was more than me understanding; I was experiencing.

3: A few years prior to that, also while driving the car, I had been listening to Brian Greene's "The Fabric of the Cosmos", and specifically to his description of Bell's Inequality. I already knew the theory, but something in Greene's narrative flipped a switch. The result was I laughed out loud, and felt what I can only describe as a rush of joy coming up from my stomach. I had seen something I hadn't seen before, despite already knowing the maths. As above, this was an *experience*, not just an understanding.

4: Fast forward to today, as I understand more and more about Buddhism and vipassana and enlightenment. I notice the distinction between samatha and vipassana. I notice that some forms of meditation lead only to concentration, while some may lead to insight. I notice that if one isn't alert, one may be tempted into being satisfied with the former at the expense of the latter. And I notice that a key part of the latter is often the subject of meditation and the intent of the meditator. For example, according to several teachers, if one wants to gain insight into reality, the subject of meditation must *be* reality (i.e. it cannot be a purely mental concept). And I find myself intrigued by that. What *is* insight meditation and why does it lead to insight? What *is* insight? And, crucially, what is it about reality that makes those things -- the nature of insight meditation, the nature of insight, and the connection between the two -- the way they are? In other words, an overarching, all consuming, grand unifying, "WTF?"

I'll do 5 and 6 at the end. In the meantime, pulling those together I'm beginning to suspect that not only is logical, skeptical, analysis not merely *not* a hinderance to insight practice, and not merely possibly an *aid* to insight practice, but such analysis may -- if done in the right way (very important: see below) -- actually *be* insight practice.

I'm beginning to wonder if I may have been inadvertently "practicing" for years, in the form of my pursuit of insight into reality via physics. I am absolutely not free of all suffering, and so if that is a marker of enlightenment, I'm not there yet. But that wouldn't be a surprise, because as I say it has been inadvertent. I'm stumbling over such things, and happening to notice some of the effects. Indeed, it's only now that I'm beginning to notice a pattern.

Now I said just above that it's important the analysis is done in the right way. That is absolutely crucial; I cannot emphasize that enough. It works like this. There are basically two different ways in which to "do" the analysis. One is to do what most people think of as physics. It's measuring speeds, and distances, and its fields, and particles and so on. That's no use for what I'm talking about. Instead, you have to look at what doing those things means; at what those concepts represent; at what physics actually *is*. It's quite possible to be a world class physicist and never do the latter. In a sense, "normal scientific inquiry" is a near enemy of what I'm talking about. This relates to point 4 above. "Normal physics" is like samatha. It's cool; its useful; and it can make you superb at doing certain things. But it won't lead to insight about reality. Why? Because normal physics doesn't study reality. It studies mental concepts. But if you understand that, and use that fact to then *actually* study reality -- i.e. the practice I'm talking about -- then why wouldn't insight follow?

OK, and here are the final two observations. They consist of noticing some similarities between the meditative paths to enlightenment, and this conjectured "analytic" path.

5. First, it is *very* hard to explain to those who aren't themselves doing it. Even here, on DhO, I've received several knee-jerk reactions against mentions of QM. That's understandable because of the nonsense that's often done in the name of QM. Nevertheless, what I'm talking about is deeply non-intuitive and it's possible it may only be properly understood by someone who is also "practicing" it. And that's not because QM is hard and you need some fairly heavy math to really get into it. (In fact you can do what I'm talking about without the maths -- although you do then need to rely on someone else to have interpreted it for you). It's because it breaks several pretty deeply held and usually unnoticed assumptions in the individual. And that is remarkably similar to Buddhism.

6. My experience of "doing" the analysis I mention just sounds very *very* similar to Daniel Ingram's and others descriptions of insight as it develops. It begins simply, observing relatively simple concepts. But it grows, and you start to notice a finer texture in the concepts. Then -- and this is a crucial stage -- you begin to notice the "holes" in the model of reality that lie where the concepts don't seem to reach. And it goes on and on from there. A good friend of mine is the only other person I know who has "made progress" like this, and I think it would be fair to say that if most people were to sit and listen to us, they wouldn't have the slightest clue what we meant. They couldn't have the slightest clue, because they just haven't covered enough ground, and haven't "seen" what we have seen. Again, very Buddhist; very DhO! emoticon

I find that last point 6 the most exciting because it's so relatively unexplored but it just feels ripe for mapping. And we're not starting from scratch. Several non-contemplative (at least, not as far as I know) thinkers, from Schopenhauer through Wittgenstein, seem to have played in this territory. They, all of them, were straining at the edges of discursive thought, but still it was taking them to what smells to me like honest to goodness insight. If we were to begin to piece together all that stumbling, and then progress more systematically from there, who knows what we might find. Nibbana perhaps.

Shrug. I'm not going to stop sitting meditation because of the above. But neither am I going to allow a dogmatic approach to sitting (e.g. "Stop Thinking So Much Robert; Just Sit") stop me from continuing to develop these ideas.

P.S. A quick Google suggests I'm not remotely the first to consider this. (I have *not* read that fully yet, so I'm not endorsing it. For now, I merely point it out.)

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/10/12 5:18 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
I like your "pure science vs. engineering" bit in your interlude between 4 and 5 a lot.

I can follow what you express here very well. There are many parallels to my own spiritual biography.

Sorry for my knee-jerk reaction in the other thread. I've derived a lot that is good from being challenged in my views and pronouncements myself. Why was I getting annoyed when some random person on the internet didn't like what I wrote? Not saying my rants have to be equally useful to you, but if they were in some way or other, then at least something not totally awful has come out of that. That's not intended to qualify my apology in any way.

Robert McLune:
Shrug. I'm not going to stop sitting meditation because of the above. But neither am I going to allow a dogmatic approach to sitting (e.g. "Stop Thinking So Much Robert; Just Sit") stop me from continuing to develop these ideas.


Even if only to rest the mind and give it a breather (heh) before the next round of analysis, sitting (or walking) meditation has a lot to recommend it. Like sleeping regularly, in fact, and taking showers, and changing socks and drinking enough and eating veggies.

The article you linked to contains a reference to Descartes' "cogito" - "I think, therefore I am". What do you make of that? Another "hole" in the consensus model of reality? Speaking of the holes you discover: what do you do with them, collect them? Go down each one?

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/10/12 7:37 PM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Sorry for my knee-jerk reaction in the other thread.

Please don't apologise, there's absolutely no need. Knee-jerks aren't always a bad thing. As we've both agreed, there really is a whole lot of pish spoken in the name of QM, so in some ways assuming that as a starting point is a fairly safe scientific position. The burden of proof could reasonably by placed on the person first bringing up QM.

The article you linked to contains a reference to Descartes' "cogito" - "I think, therefore I am". What do you make of that?

I have to be honest and say I'm fond of it. At very least I find that Cartesian dualism is superior to the monism of scientific materialism.

But the "splinter in my mind" of Cartesianism is this "I" business. I've developed enough respect for Buddhism to at least give the time of day to the idea that a separate "I" is problematic. And if it turns out that the BUddhist position is in fact "correct" then I'll have to drop Cartesianism in favour of something else. So far though, I remain confused and in the exploratory phase. My plan is to work hard at developing meditation practice, so I can experience what it is that you guys (and the Buddha and friends before you) have experienced. At that point I may then "get it", which will be cool. Alternatively, I may bring to the experience my own scientific and philosophical training, and as a result offer an articulation of the whole thing which isn't as difficult for people like me to grok. Either one will do for me.

Speaking of the holes you discover: what do you do with them, collect them? Go down each one?

Well, by hole I'm really referring not to missing theorems, but rather to what the overall structure of Theoremsville looks like and what can be inferred by that shape, especially when you're at the edge of it, or where you're surprised by something not being there where at first glance you think it should, but at second you realise it shouldn't.

Perhaps the best example of this would be the final part of Witgenstein's Tractatus. It ends with a statement saying, basically, if we cannot speak clearly about something, we shouldn't talk about it at all. Many people -- even some A List people in the Vienna Circle -- seemed to think that W was saying "if we can't speak clearly about something, it's pish" But he wasn't. I reckon W believed that among the things of which we could not speak, were some of the most important things worth saying -- except they weren't sayable. That's a hole of the highest order. But it really is a hole -- it's not something we're going to dive into and find out what's there. Or at least, even if we do manage to do that, still its mere existence, hole qua hole, is valuable in our pursuit of insight,

From noticing that hole -- which is really noticing the edge of thought -- we may not be able to ask things like "What is in the hole?", but we can ask what is it about reality that makes it such that the hole exists. As you push on that you realize the answer is "us"; we are why there is a hole. So why? What is it about us that has that effect? Well, something about language, and concepts. Look back to our discussion about Magick. My thinking there is not really about whether someone can say abracadabra and some gold appears. It's about what reality *is*, and I argue that it is at least in part a construction of our minds and language and so on. Pushing on, *Why* is language so central? What *is* language? And why is it -- at this stage of thinking -- I haven't thought at all about electrons, and neutrinos, and magnetic fields, and so on. How come they seem to be so *unimportant*.

Yada yada yada ... and on and on.

But none of that really captures it, any more than describing meditation captures it. You have to *do* it to see why I'm beginning to wonder if the above is more than mere intellectual pondering. It may be a more sophisticated version of what Tolle did when asked himself, "Hang on. Who is the 'I' and who is the 'myself' in 'I can't live with myself'? And are they one and the same, or what?"

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/10/12 9:43 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
This discourse nailed it for me in the beginning when I had all sorts of doubts and confusion

and too much intellectualising and rationalizing :-

Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta: The Shorter Instructions to Malunkya

another thing that helped me nailed is this question - if I have a choice between a pill that answers all of my questions about
the universe or a pill that ends suffering , which one will I choose ? The Buddha is offering the second pill and I'll take
that gladly emoticon

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 2:11 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:


The article you linked to contains a reference to Descartes' "cogito" - "I think, therefore I am". What do you make of that?

I have to be honest and say I'm fond of it. At very least I find that Cartesian dualism is superior to the monism of scientific materialism.

But the "splinter in my mind" of Cartesianism is this "I" business.


I meant just that one phrase, not the entire philosophical edifice. Can a thought think another thought? Is the thinker really a thought? Are thought self-thinking? Don't look up or remember the answers, because as you are thinking about this, there are real live genuine thoughts right there which will exhibit the answers.

Speaking of the holes you discover: what do you do with them, collect them? Go down each one?


Well, by hole I'm really referring not to missing theorems, but rather to what the overall structure of Theoremsville looks like and what can be inferred by that shape, especially when you're at the edge of it, or where you're surprised by something not being there where at first glance you think it should, but at second you realise it shouldn't.

I reckon W believed that among the things of which we could not speak, were some of the most important things worth saying -- except they weren't sayable. That's a hole of the highest order.


I've come to know that one quite well. I call it "ga ga goo", because there seems to be something built into the way we humans interact which reduces any attempt on my part to express Truth into a stream of gibberish.

From noticing that hole -- which is really noticing the edge of thought -- we may not be able to ask things like "What is in the hole?", but we can ask what is it about reality that makes it such that the hole exists. As you push on that you realize the answer is "us"; we are why there is a hole. So why? What is it about us that has that effect? Well, something about language, and concepts. Look back to our discussion about Magick. My thinking there is not really about whether someone can say abracadabra and some gold appears. It's about what reality *is*, and I argue that it is at least in part a construction of our minds and language and so on. Pushing on, *Why* is language so central? What *is* language? And why is it -- at this stage of thinking -- I haven't thought at all about electrons, and neutrinos, and magnetic fields, and so on. How come they seem to be so *unimportant*.


Yeah. So take a step back and watch that stream of mental discourse a bit, so you can observe the structure better and not get so involved in the details.

Here's a Buddhist trick or technique useful for taking that step back: notice how this discursive train of thought is saturated with a dissatisfaction or frustration at not "getting it"? Keep noticing that sense of frustration. You don't have to do it continuously, just try to notice it often.

There are other techniques - writing it all down until you've written something true, for example. Which seems to be what you're doing here.

But none of that really captures it, any more than describing meditation captures it. You have to *do* it to see why I'm beginning to wonder if the above is more than mere intellectual pondering. It may be a more sophisticated version of what Tolle did when asked himself, "Hang on. Who is the 'I' and who is the 'myself' in 'I can't live with myself'? And are they one and the same, or what?"


"I hate myself therefore I am" and "I think therefore I am" are really the same thing. They are tools which can be used to drill and chisel and sandblast off the ways in which we are fooling ourselves.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 3:18 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Hello, another physicst in the room! (Thanks Florian for the heads up about this post).

Unfortunately I can't really add much to this discussion, only a couple of things:

I think Adyashanti is quite fond of that thing Florian metions about "writting until you find something true". Check out his audiobook, I think it was the True Meditation one. Its fun.

Also, even tho I know next to nothing about the topic, I believe in Greece they used some discursive method to gain insight into reality (in our sense of insight) and so enlightenment. There are some people arguing Plato and Company were using genuine methods for awakening, theres a guy from Harvard that has written some books about it. Florian do you remember his name?

Also, I think Alan Chapman has done plenty of research there (in the old Greek stuff), you might like to send him a short email asking about that.

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 7:21 AM as a reply to Shashank Dixit.
Shashank Dixit:
... too much intellectualising and rationalizing

Thanks Shashank. But didn't you pick up on the fact that the entire point I was making hinged on the "nevertheless" in a statement like:

"While it may well be possible to engage in too much intellectualising and rationalizing, nevertheless <rest of what I wrote>"
??

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 8:02 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
Shashank Dixit:
... too much intellectualising and rationalizing

Thanks Shashank. But didn't you pick up on the fact that the entire point I was making hinged on the "nevertheless" in a statement like:

"While it may well be possible to engage in too much intellectualising and rationalizing, nevertheless <rest of what I wrote>"
??


Sorry, my intention wasn't to criticize.

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 8:06 AM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:
Can a thought think another thought? Is the thinker really a thought? Are thought self-thinking? Don't look up or remember the answers, because as you are thinking about this, there are real live genuine thoughts right there which will exhibit the answers.

I've never answered those before, so I couldn't remember the answers; nor would I know where to look them up. Worse, I'm not even sure I can parse them. Sometimes words get bolted together into chunks that seem meaningful but on close inspection aren't. The present King of France isn't bald. But he's not hairy either.

I've come to know that one quite well. I call it "ga ga goo", because there seems to be something built into the way we humans interact which reduces any attempt on my part to express Truth into a stream of gibberish.

I actually see it in the opposite way. There seems to be something built into the way we humans interact that elevates any attempt on my part to emit a stream of gibberish into some kind of expression of Truth. It's because we're pattern-seekers, and will detect patterns even where there aren't any. Only it's deeper than that. It may be that "pattern" Just Is the name for our interactions with whatever is out there. One of the things I find interesting about Buddhism and vipassana meditation is that perhaps it is a technology for disabling or seeing past our pattern recognition machinery.

So where are you in terms of progress along the vipassana path? It looks fairly clear you've been where I am, and thought what I'm thinking. Where are you now?

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 8:13 AM as a reply to Shashank Dixit.
Shashank Dixit:
Robert McLune:
Shashank Dixit:
... too much intellectualising and rationalizing

Thanks Shashank. But didn't you pick up on the fact that the entire point I was making hinged on the "nevertheless" in a statement like:

"While it may well be possible to engage in too much intellectualising and rationalizing, nevertheless <rest of what I wrote>"
??


Sorry, my intention wasn't to criticize.

My but this is a jumpy group! emoticon I wasn't saying you were criticizing me. No need to apologize.

BTW: Thanks for the reference you gave me. (That's what I meant by <cough> "Thanks Shashank" emoticon )

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 8:18 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
hehe alrighty then emoticon

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 8:24 AM as a reply to Andy Coke.
Andy Coke:
I think Adyashanti is quite fond of that thing Florian metions about "writting until you find something true". Check out his audiobook, I think it was the True Meditation one. Its fun.

Thanks Andy. I'll have a look at the Adyashanti reference.

Also, I think Alan Chapman has done plenty of research there (in the old Greek stuff), you might like to send him a short email asking about that.

Chapman as in, author of "Advanced Magick for Beginners"?

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/21/12 8:47 AM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
Florian Weps:
Can a thought think another thought? Is the thinker really a thought? Are thought self-thinking? Don't look up or remember the answers, because as you are thinking about this, there are real live genuine thoughts right there which will exhibit the answers.


I've never answered those before, so I couldn't remember the answers; nor would I know where to look them up. Worse, I'm not even sure I can parse them. Sometimes words get bolted together into chunks that seem meaningful but on close inspection aren't. The present King of France isn't bald. But he's not hairy either


If "I think, therefore I am", do the thoughts have to make sense for me to exist?

I've come to know that one quite well. I call it "ga ga goo", because there seems to be something built into the way we humans interact which reduces any attempt on my part to express Truth into a stream of gibberish.

I actually see it in the opposite way. There seems to be something built into the way we humans interact that elevates any attempt on my part to emit a stream of gibberish into some kind of expression of Truth. It's because we're pattern-seekers, and will detect patterns even where there aren't any. Only it's deeper than that. It may be that "pattern" Just Is the name for our interactions with whatever is out there. One of the things I find interesting about Buddhism and vipassana meditation is that perhaps it is a technology for disabling or seeing past our pattern recognition machinery.


Sure.

So where are you in terms of progress along the vipassana path? It looks fairly clear you've been where I am, and thought what I'm thinking. Where are you now?


Good question, since I've been heaping advice on you for the past few days.

A couple of years ago, I experienced a shift which I interpret as stream-entry.

Last year, another big shift took place when I saw through the circular nature of identification, ownership, and self-recognition.

Earlier this year a big shift happened which was the cessation of some kind of strangle-hold on my heart. This gets deeply into ga ga goo territory - really hard to express. I'm still at the beginning of integrating that shift into my day-to-day life.

There are threads on the DhO about all of these shifts, if you wish to read up on them. I'll leave it up to you to line up these shifts with the maps in MCTB (Daniel's book), if you care to do so. Of all the maps, I like his "simple model" best.

(edit: here are the links)

Dark night "idling overhead helicopter rotor" vibes - what I interpret as stream-entry.
Monkey Mind squirmed in embarrassment for a moment... - cessation of "I, me, mine"
My latest revelation, which I'll be preaching at the corners. - heart released.
(edited to add) Report: Dark Kamma Results (a.k.a. Trials) / Heart Release - more thoughts on heart release

Again, these are my reports of my experience, and my own take on what happened. Please form your own opinion, ideally based on your own unfolding experience of this stuff, just as the people who discussed these reports with me did in those threads.

Cheers,
Florian

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 5:49 PM as a reply to Florian.
Florian Weps:

Thanks I read through all of them. I'll probably go over in more detail too. Your exchanges with the Tarin guy were particularly interesting. I believe he's gone now, though, yes?

Unfortunately I think I may be too new to this whole game to be able to follow the third, most recent, "heart released" thread. To be honest, I can't tell which parts are serious, which are tongue in cheek, and which are, well something else. Anyway, that's not my worry for the moment. For now, I'm taking some time to work on simply sitting on my ass. emoticon

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 6:53 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
... such analysis may -- if done in the right way (very important: see below) -- actually *be* insight practice.

I'm beginning to wonder if I may have been inadvertently "practicing" for years, in the form of my pursuit of insight into reality via physics.

Wow, something has just clicked. I think I suddenly see what it is I've been clumsily trying to express.

I'm just back from a drive to the store. While driving I was tussling with the idea of no-self, trying to think how I could talk about it to my physicist friend. I wondered about the applicability of Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke story, where she described the feeling of not being a self.

What could that mean? I thought of being in her situation, and wondering what kind of experience could induce her to produce that kind of description. I imagined looking at my hand and being no longer able to see its edge. Or rather, maybe I'd see its edges but not attribute significance to them.

Then I stopped short and began to wonder if there *is* a significance to them anyway. Not in an everyday, knowing-where-to-put-the-glove-on way, but deeper, right down at the nature of what it means to "be".

And then, just for a flash -- I barely saw it before it was gone -- I got a smell, just the slightest whiff of anatta.

Do you see what's going on?

QM is acting as koan for me! It's not the QM itself. It's the struggle it is creating in my head, forcing me into spaces that even very tough regular physics can't take me.

QM, if used in the right way, is a koan. *That's* what it is I've been bumping into all these years! Wow!

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 7:35 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:

What could that mean? I thought of being in her situation, and wondering what kind of experience could induce her to produce that kind of description. I imagined looking at my hand and being no longer able to see its edge. Or rather, maybe I'd see its edges but not attribute significance to them.

Then I stopped short and began to wonder if there *is* a significance to them anyway. Not in an everyday, knowing-where-to-put-the-glove-on way, but deeper, right down at the nature of what it means to "be".

And then, just for a flash -- I barely saw it before it was gone -- I got a smell, just the slightest whiff of anatta.


Nicely done. Not sure what to make of the QM stuff. But based on this description it does seem like it is effective as insight practice for you.

If you can take this line of questioning further you will end up with something like this which is pretty important shift in resolving the subject/object duality.

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 8:38 PM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
D Z:

Nicely done. Not sure what to make of the QM stuff. But based on this description it does seem like it is effective as insight practice for you.

If you can take this line of questioning further you will end up with something like this which is pretty important shift in resolving the subject/object duality.

Thanks DZ. That thread looks interesting.
To be honest, I've decided to focus my energy less on this QM stuff for now, and try to build a meditation practice. Actually, I don't really "do" the QM-stuff; it's kinda involuntary and just the way I am. So I won't make a big effort to "stop" it. But I think I need to do more than what I've just described. Relying purely on that has a few issues. First, it *may* simply be all hokum and a figment of my imagination. Second, even if it is acting in the koan-like way I describe, it's not clear it's ideal for that purpose. And third, I get the impression that koan practice is best done with a teacher, and I don't have one.

Overall, it seems quite possible that had I invested, over the past 10 or 15 years, the same amount of energy in "orthodox" meditation approaches that I have in QM-related metaphysics, I could be an Arahant by now! :-)

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 9:19 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
I was watching a documentary yesterday called "Is everything we know about the Universe wrong?". Even though I don't know anything about QM or cosmology, when I saw the title I thought to myself: "yes of course it is wrong. You think the Whole can be shrunk down and encapsulated into a belief-thought inside some physicists head?"

The scientists interviewed on this show were saying how they despised this thing called Dark Energy and the phenomenon of Dark Flow. Dark Energy is apparently making up 70% of the universe, and is a necessary part of their maths equations. They felt very uneasy about Dark Energy and described it as unwanted and menacing. As I watched these geeks with their hyper-intellectual approach to life, I suspected they were uneasy because they couldn't reduce it into thought form. If they meditated on Dark Energy, that would be a good koan. Someone will do that one day. I see where you're going with it.

RE: Natural Philosophy (Physics) as a Vipassana practice?
Answer
11/11/12 11:04 PM as a reply to Robert McLune.
Robert McLune:
Robert McLune:
... such analysis may -- if done in the right way (very important: see below) -- actually *be* insight practice.

I'm beginning to wonder if I may have been inadvertently "practicing" for years, in the form of my pursuit of insight into reality via physics.

Wow, something has just clicked. I think I suddenly see what it is I've been clumsily trying to express.

I'm just back from a drive to the store. While driving I was tussling with the idea of no-self, trying to think how I could talk about it to my physicist friend. I wondered about the applicability of Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke story, where she described the feeling of not being a self.

What could that mean? I thought of being in her situation, and wondering what kind of experience could induce her to produce that kind of description. I imagined looking at my hand and being no longer able to see its edge. Or rather, maybe I'd see its edges but not attribute significance to them.

Then I stopped short and began to wonder if there *is* a significance to them anyway. Not in an everyday, knowing-where-to-put-the-glove-on way, but deeper, right down at the nature of what it means to "be".

And then, just for a flash -- I barely saw it before it was gone -- I got a smell, just the slightest whiff of anatta.

Do you see what's going on?

QM is acting as koan for me! It's not the QM itself. It's the struggle it is creating in my head, forcing me into spaces that even very tough regular physics can't take me.

QM, if used in the right way, is a koan. *That's* what it is I've been bumping into all these years! Wow!


That's a good way to put it.

Congrats on that not-self insight. Keep them coming!

Off-cushion flashes of insight like the one you describe are quite common among meditators, btw. It's easy to assume that the meditation time and place is somehow special and that insight can only happen there, but that's not necessarily so.

Cheers,
Florian