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RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?

Daniel M. Ingram:
As much as I am into meditation, I am actually very far to the "do not evangelize under any circumstances" end of things regarding my personal life. I pretty much totally keep it under wraps with most friends and nearly totally at work unless someone comes up to me and starts the conversation, and then I very carefully don't push at all past where they are and what questions and interest they bring from their side.

It is a paradox, but I have tried many variations of the other way and they nearly all went badly.

It might be something about me or my style or whatever, so I don't consider myself an expert in now to subtly or skillfully evangelize or whatever, and in fact consider myself to be heavily deficient in that regard, so that would be something that I probably shouldn't write about, as it is not in my skill set to any appreciable degree.

If you actually figure out how to do this, please write something on it, as I could learn from you. Anything would probably be an improvement, as my experiments were mostly disasters.


Hi Daniel,

I think this would be very easy to promote. You could do a public display of power or endurance, similar to David Blaine, (official holder of many world records). Invite a TV crew and Guiness Records to attend. You could go without food and water for 2 weeks, or hold your breath for 30 minutes under water, or perform some sort of magic. For a master of the jhanas, all this would be possible. Then when interviewed, you simply attribute your success to meditation. One verified act could generate huge interest.

Blaine is a meditator. I assume he accesses deep jhanas in order to pull off such feats. Has an enormous world wide following.

A reply would be appreciated.

Thanks,

CCC

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/8/14 3:41 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Daniel M. Ingram:
As much as I am into meditation, I am actually very far to the "do not evangelize under any circumstances" end of things regarding my personal life. I pretty much totally keep it under wraps with most friends and nearly totally at work unless someone comes up to me and starts the conversation, and then I very carefully don't push at all past where they are and what questions and interest they bring from their side.

It is a paradox, but I have tried many variations of the other way and they nearly all went badly.

It might be something about me or my style or whatever, so I don't consider myself an expert in now to subtly or skillfully evangelize or whatever, and in fact consider myself to be heavily deficient in that regard, so that would be something that I probably shouldn't write about, as it is not in my skill set to any appreciable degree.

If you actually figure out how to do this, please write something on it, as I could learn from you. Anything would probably be an improvement, as my experiments were mostly disasters.


Hi Daniel,

I think this would be very easy to promote. You could do a public display of power or endurance, similar to David Blaine, (official holder of many world records). Invite a TV crew and Guiness Records to attend. You could go without food and water for 2 weeks, or hold your breath for 30 minutes under water, or perform some sort of magic. For a master of the jhanas, all this would be possible. Then when interviewed, you simply attribute your success to meditation. One verified act could generate huge interest.

Blaine is a meditator. I assume he accesses deep jhanas in order to pull off such feats. Has an enormous world wide following.

A reply would be appreciated.

Thanks,

CCC


This is a nice idea CCC, but what you are talking about here is public magic(k). Pubic magick is very hard to pull off. While a meditation jhana master may be able to perform amazing magickal feats in bedrooms, caves, or on the high canopies of jungle trees, you are working with fields of disbelief with public displays of magick, and as such, you are going to run into all sorts of problems with the public being unable to deal with paradigms that differ radically from their own. That said, as you say, Blaine has had some success here. A truly extraordinary being.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/8/14 9:15 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
I read up on David Blaine, as I hadn't heard of him.

His feats of street and show magic in the conventional sense are very impressive in a horrid sort of way.

I don't have any obvious evidence that this has anything to do with my core skill-sets or anything obvious to do with the things that I find important, but as a testimony to how far people can push themselves in various directions, he is clearly a far outlier.

What do you know about David Blaine's mind, his insights, his understanding of essential sensate truths? Does he use his profound endurance and willingness to push his physical body to its limits to promote insight?

How did you think these relate to the things I find interesting and important?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/8/14 9:14 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
On further reflection...

People suffer extremes similar to what he has subjected himself to relatively often. Children survive near-starvation by the millions all over the world in conditions worse than what he endures. They earn no fame by it. Plenty more die from those conditions. People on hunger strikes in prisons go much longer without food than he did, few are famous. People being tortured endure more severe conditions and survive, but plenty die also. Beyond the obvious messages about general suffering and impermanence in a relative sense, I am not sure how wisdom figures into this.

That he is famous is interesting to consider. Imagine if everyone who had endured severe conditions as he has and lived were famous: we couldn't possibly keep up with all that fame, as it would involve enough people to create a medium-sized nation. I suspect that we should perhaps teach marketing and self-promotion classes to those who are suffering in similar conditions so that they may maximize the profits from the things they must endure. I suspect Tutteji would appreciate the sentiment.

As a physician and advocate for the Middle Way, I consider subjecting one's body to conditions that are severe enough to possibly cause death to be generally unwise. This point of view is hardly profound or unique, and I suspect that most people follow a similar ethic. If you have read my book, you might remember that I advocate for such things as care for the body, wise living, compassion, moderation in heroics, getting enough to eat and sleep and the like. His way is clearly quite different from the one I have found useful.

The Buddha warned against similar extremes. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with his story. The Buddha when through a long period of grave asceticism and found that is simply weakened his body but produced no wisdom. He then went on to advocate for a path that involved care for the body and the cultivation of insight and the like. I don't see much of that here, though I suspect that he must train hard between his periods of self-inflicted suffering and asceticism in order to increase his chances of surviving them.

Imagine if I did promote such preposterous acts: how many would hurt themselves trying to mimic them? It all sounds like a terrible idea. Were you actually serious when you wrote that post? Had you thought this through? If so, consider a course in basic ethics and reasoning and see if that produces better outcomes.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/8/14 8:27 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel,

Blaine has mentioned in interviews that he is unafraid of death. He proves this regularly. For fun he will stroll along the upper ledge of a high rise building, totally relaxed. You can see this relaxation in his face and body language - it's quite shocking. Taking his body to extremes is interesting for him, and if he takes it too far one day and dies, it's not a problem for him. It would only be a problem for someone strongly identified with his body.

Buddha's extreme asceticism didn't gain him any ground, as we know. But once he was able to enter deep jhanas, he would have lost interest in his body anyway. He happened to take it further and achieve enlightenment. But if it had been his interest, he could just as well have played around on the powers level, just to see what was possible. It hurts no one. For Blaine to demonstrate that he can modulate personal suffering is a wonderful and inspiring thing. His fame is deserved for that reason.

So you don't achieve anything through asceticism, but once you can achieve higher states of consciousness, you might say "hey look, the body is not that important. You want proof? Look!... I can endure this pain but it's not a problem for me. I don't suffer like you. I'm not afraid of death". To refer to his work as "preposterous acts" indicates to me that you don't quite get it. He is not afraid like you and me. He is not bound up in the body-mind like you and me. This has been achieved not through asceticism, but meditation. His feats of endurance are not acts of asceticism, they are proof of a profoundly heightened state of consciousness. What he does is liberating, not preposterous. Also, I've never heard of anyone referring to Blaine's magic as "horrid"! What feelings would prompt you to use the word "horrid"?! If the universe is a big playground, he is just playing in a bigger space than us. Does it "horrify" you that he delights and inspires very sick young children in hospitals as part of his charity work?

Blaine has done so much to promote a spiritual life, and I'm sure he has been responsible for more than a few people taking up meditation and yoga. Isn't this what you want for yourself?

CCC

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/9/14 3:34 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Daniel raises the point that the real heroes here are the millions of people around the world who endure starvation and tortuous conditions and survive, not David Blaine, who after his feats most likely gets to stay in swish hotels with the latest amenities, receiving lavish affections from his adoring fans. I can well imagine that he has a harem of women to choose from, and I know that he has dated super models in his time.

The difference is that David Blaine chooses to endure suffering, like the Buddha did (a Buddha for our time, just in the early stages?), while the unsung heroes do not have choice of living a gravely ascetic life.

But Daniel, speaking of ethics and reasoning and as a doctor, if you have in your hands a cure for suffering, then it isn't beholden upon you to try and make that cure available? If all these people were aware of how they could significantly reduce their suffering in the face of adverse conditions, then think of all the suffering could be reduced and the net increase of happiness on a global scale. I am not saying it would be easy, but if global awareness of the power of meditation, insight and mindfulness could be increased, it could allow help people to accept terrible and arduous conditions with equanimity. Ethically speaking, by not evangelizing and performing the kind of amazing feats that could allow worldwide fame, one could argue that you were indirectly responsible for the suffering of all those people that could have benefited from the "cure".

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/9/14 5:25 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
I don't know why the following terms have not been properly defined, but it's crucial for such a discussion 1) nociception and 2) pain. Nociception is what happens when certain nerve endings fire in response to tissue damage. Nociception can occur without causing any pain at all - eg. someone who is distracted by activity might not feel severe tissue damage until the distraction is finished. Pain can also exist without any nociception - eg. chronic pain patients who suffer physical pain for some reason other than nociception (ie. there is no tissue damage to explain it).

It would be reasonable to assume that if you have a body, then nociception will occur. But pain is a different matter.

Professor Ronald Melzack, now dead, was a world famous pain researcher. He came up with the idea of the Neuromatrix. The most ground-breaking notion forwarded was that pain is an output, and one which does not necessarily have a direct link to nociception. See diagram below.

Look at the 3 inputs on the left hand side - the first and the third of these may disappear when self-centered processing has ceased (the hypothalamus, which is part of the limbic system, is strongly connected with the sense of self. Also, memory is very much a feature of self-concern). All that would be left is the sensory signalling, which is not significant enough on its own to cause pain. The right side of the chart has 3 components which define the pain experience. The sensory component will be registered in some cases maybe, and there will always be involuntary reactions to such input, but the affective component (suffering) should be done with for the enlightened person. Stress regulation (adrenaline release etc) might also be done with.

For someone who has seen beyond the illusion of space/time and who no longer lives from memory, suffering is unlikely. Time and memory are very big inputs to the Neuromatrix. If the practice of Buddhism does not eventually end suffering, then it's not worth practising.

See also discussion at: http://www.bodyinmind.org/nociception-consciousness-pain/

..

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/9/14 5:53 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I don't know why the following terms have not been properly defined, but it's crucial for such a discussion 1) nociception and 2) pain. Nociception is what happens when certain nerve endings fire in response to tissue damage. Nociception can occur without causing any pain at all - eg. someone who is distracted by activity might not feel severe tissue damage until the distraction is finished. Pain can also exist without any nociception - eg. chronic pain patients who suffer physical pain for some reason other than nociception (ie. there is no tissue damage to explain it).

It would be reasonable to assume that if you have a body, then nociception will occur. But pain is a different matter.

Professor Ronald Melzack, now dead, was a world famous pain researcher. He came up with the idea of the Neuromatrix. The most ground-breaking notion forwarded was that pain is an output, and one which does not necessarily have a direct link to nociception. See diagram below.

Look at the 3 inputs on the left hand side - the first and the third of these may disappear when self-centered processing has ceased (the hypothalamus, which is part of the limbic system, is strongly connected with the sense of self. Also, memory is very much a feature of self-concern). All that would be left is the sensory signalling, which is not significant enough on its own to cause pain. The right side of the chart has 3 components which define the pain experience. The sensory component will be registered in some cases maybe, and there will always be involuntary reactions to such input, but the affective component (suffering) should be done with for the enlightened person. Stress regulation (adrenaline release etc) might also be done with.

For someone who has seen beyond the illusion of space/time and who no longer lives from memory, suffering is unlikely. Time and memory are very big inputs to the Neuromatrix. If the practice of Buddhism does not eventually end suffering, then it's not worth practising.

See also discussion at: http://www.bodyinmind.org/nociception-consciousness-pain/

..


You still need to exaust the cause of pain, otherwise its just avoiding the pain. If you don't remove the cause it will effect on something else what is more efficent to caught your attention.

If someone is beating you but sees that it does not do any impact, he will then use a gun.

Good luck if you want to defeat pain(rupa) and awareness of pain(nama). Because nondual means you integrate nama and rupa and become aware of both - what happens is you will see pain first time in life.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/9/14 8:55 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Daniel,

Blaine has mentioned in interviews that he is unafraid of death. He proves this regularly. For fun he will stroll along the upper ledge of a high rise building, totally relaxed. You can see this relaxation in his face and body language - it's quite shocking. Taking his body to extremes is interesting for him, and if he takes it too far one day and dies, it's not a problem for him. It would only be a problem for someone strongly identified with his body.
CCC


what about drunk people driving with the car. They just don't have a clue of the danger. And the importance of the body...

watched some of his video, he is real.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/9/14 6:11 AM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
Rist Ei:

You still need to exaust the cause of pain,


To me, the cause is explained in Melzack's neuromatrix.

What is your view of the cause? Ignorance of the true nature of reality, right? Or ego (same thing). Well I'm saying that once ego is dissolved, certain critical inputs to the neuromatrix could be wiped out.... and suffering with it.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/9/14 7:04 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Rist Ei:

You still need to exaust the cause of pain,


To me, the cause is explained in Melzack's neuromatrix.

What is your view of the cause? Ignorance of the true nature of reality, right? Or ego (same thing). Well I'm saying that once ego is dissolved, certain critical inputs to the neuromatrix could be wiped out.... and suffering with it.


What ego is, is your identification with something what you don't yet know. Winning million dollars can cause some hidden aspect of yourself come into life.

We never know how we react if we see ufo. But if we see it second time or third time we get used to it, till we don't care for example.
For physical pain. If its cold then it is because of lack of heat generated by movement(for example), the colder is outside the more we need to move. If we stop moving then we get cold again. From that if you figure out how to dodge every pain then you need to do it constantly from scratch using your own energies.

There is also nonanimation, freezing the spirit(rupa) to avoid everything for a moment.

But i agree tho that eventually you can remove all pain and dematerialize your body at will etc. But i still think enlightenment is not the cause of removing pain. Ofcourse it depends what is meant by enlightenment, for me it is realizing emptiness/nondual and it does not remove ego or pain, but it removes that i am not doing so stupid things as before that itself is removing some pain.

imho dreams are good place to get to know some hidden aspects of myself. When my teeth fell off and maggots running out from the holes, the mental reaction of it..

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
Answer
3/9/14 2:11 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
As to lack of fear of death, it is a complex subject. I know plenty of teenagers that have no obvious functional fear of death, and I myself was one at points, doing all sorts of things that really risked death without any real sense of the possible consequences of my actions. Work in a Peds ER on any Saturday night and witness the drunken 16 year-olds behaviors: amazing that they survive some of the things they do. I myself used to walk along the very edge of rocky cliffs on the edges of mesas in northern New Mexico, when the slightest slip would mean a long fall to certain death. I used to climb up the dusty walls of stairwells in high school with my hands on one wall and my feet on the other wall, suspending my body between them, climbing to heights over 20 feet above the solid concrete landings, heights that would almost certainly have resulted in my death or severe injury had I slipped, which was actually a likely occurrence. I did this with no fear at all, so these things don't impress me. They are extremely common. I have hung off of the wing of an airplane at 13,500 feet above the ground. I have ridden a motor rickshaw from Varanasi to Mughalsarai: truly an insane and death-defying feat, as will be well-known to those who have done it.

As to other examples of people walking at heights: people who build skyscrapers do this all the time and somehow fail to accumulate fame from it. Photos abound: google "ironworkers on skyscrapers" and see what you get. Would you follow them a some sort of guru for this? It is a strange notion.

Come on down to the South and watch what happens after phrases such as, "Hey, hold my beer, I'm gonna' try somethin..." We joke about this all the time in the emergency department, but only because the phenomena is so common. This is true fearlessness, but is it wisdom? Would you follow these people as some sort of guru?

From another point of view: perhaps he has no parents, no siblings, no children, no friends who really care about him, and no dependents, as well as no aspect of society that benefits from his continued survival and well-being, and so perhaps he cannot be accused of the obvious lack of consideration that risking one's life entails. It may be a calculated risk for him, but that is in some ways a callous calculation. Watch what happens when people die, and particularly when the healthy die young. I have seen a lot of this myself. After 10 years of working in emergency departments I still remember each young healthy person who died. The suffering to those around them is profound and very long-lasting, particularly for the parents. Perhaps you haven't seen this, but there is clearly a certain risk you take with the happiness of those around you when you obviously tempt fate and risk death for show or any other reason for that matter, such as going to war, etc. Talk with the families of fallen heroes: even those who really feel their children died for noble causes still suffer profoundly. He may not care about such things: it is missing something important.

From a health-care point of view: he risks staggering costs to those around him that they will have to pay. He may have already accumulated some of those costs, as it looks like he is routinely rushed to the hospital for emergent care immediately after his stunts, if Wikipedia is accurate. The costs are likely quite high, given what it seems he has done to himself at times. He risks much higher costs as well, so is playing with the money of those around him without their consent. It is a perennial problem in health-care ethics: how much to you charge those who willfully risk huge costs to those around them as part of pooled, cost-sharing systems? If one day his starvation routine shuts down his kidneys and they don't come back on-line when he gets hydrated, as they don't always recover from insults like that, how does everyone feel about the $150,000+ per year to put him on dialysis until he does die of some unfortunate complication of all of that? It shows some lack of consideration for those around him that I don't see discussed here.

People talk about having no fear of death, but most of the time what they should reasonably fear from some functional moral point of view is the period of serious pain, cost and social pain they cause everyone else during the period from injury to death, as that is typically far worse and vastly more costly in so many ways than the actual dying part.

All that said, you clearly have a true hero in David, and heroes are inspiring, so perhaps you should ask him to learn meditation, as that would at least be skillful, as opposed to asking me to risk my life for your inspirational needs, as that seems to be missing some understanding that seems clear from this side. Perhaps it would inspire you to practice well.

I have a reasonably large number of dependents who rely on me for food and shelter. There are people who care for me and would morn my loss. I owe a large dept to society for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to train me to care for the sick and injured among them and so society would lose out if I just tossed my life away on some prank or gaudy spectacle, as a thoughtless teenager might.

In short, in some amazingly naive vacuum of context and wider consideration, I can see how someone might appreciate his dramatic displays, as you clearly do. I also appreciate spectacle, having gone to Cirque du Soleil performances, but at least they take very large numbers of precautions to help insure their survival, whereas he clearly pushes things way into the realm of possible severe harm.

Plenty of people display all sorts of heroic feats all the time, but which of them inspired people to meditate as the Buddha did?

I have a friend and fellow physician who has pictures of his younger self having stacks of concrete blocks being smashed in half with a sledge-hammer as they sat resting on his bare chest as he lay on a bed of nails. He is an impressive guy and that was clearly an impressive feat requiring profound control of many bodily and mental factors.

What is relevant here is that he actually did this as part of a traveling circus-like show promoting Protestant Christianity, saying that God and Jesus protected them from harm during these extreme acts and so people should believe and convert, though plenty of non-Christians can do similar feats. Does God protect them also and the just not know it? It would be hard to prove one way or the other. If I showed you photos of my friend doing this, would you suddenly convert to Christianity? I can easily obtain a copy of one of those photos if this would help you in your spiritual journey. He is a truly impressive person in very many ways, so perhaps he would inspire you to follow a similar path. He has another photo of him smashing a concrete block with each foot simultaneously in an amazing flying kick, as the blocks were held in the hands of two people who each are sitting on someone else's shoulders, meaning that the blocks are each about 6 feet off of the ground and about 3-4 feet apart. There was no trampoline. Wild stuff. Does it make you a true believer? One way or the other, very, very impressive mental control there along with world-class physical athletics.

As to the point that if I could so something that promoted a lack of the pain of dualistic perception more widely then I should do so: please, I am all ears in this regard. That I reject the notion that I should, say, freeze myself in a block of ice for 2 days or go without anything but water for 45 days in a tank over a river is not any blanket rejection of the notion that skillful promotion of wisdom shouldn't be a high priority, just a personal rejection of that scheme for doing so. If someone has better suggestions for how to do this that don't involve so many obvious ethical problems, I truly would like input on that.

I submit the following:

The 11th Army of Mara

Anything that helps fight this 11th Army skillfully I am all for. It is not like I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about this in the 18 or so years I have been in some position to really ponder it. Creating the DhO and writing my book have been the best ways I have found so far, and they have reached a reasonable number of those who can be reached by those methods, and other than a bit of shoulder soreness from mouse-overuse I have remained in good health, which I and my family and patients appreciate. What reasonable methods would you advocate for, and, if you know them to work, why haven't you applied them yourselves?

As to pain being distractible and variable in its effects, this is not profound either. An iPhone video will distract some children enough to do all sorts of painful things to them in the ED without them being nearly as aware of it, and others it won't work on at all. Adrenaline sometimes allows people to not notice profound amounts of what would otherwise have been pain. Everyone knows this. I am not sure how this ties into wisdom. You must remember, pain is my business and I am very aware of the pathways and the literature, as well as having seen 10's of thousands of patients with various amounts of pain, as pain is the most common complaint people come to an emergency department with.

People also relate profoundly differently to pain just at some sort of baseline and apparently intrinsic trait, though clearly handling pain is a learnable skill also. I see people who the smallest stick with a small needle has them crying in pain, and some people who can handle profound amounts of pain with a strange amount of ease.

I myself have had about 12 kidney stones so far, each of which caused various degrees of pain. Most of my stones have been on the moderately large side: about 3-5mm, but not large enough to require surgical or procedural intervention yet.

Kidney stones are routinely ranked as one of the most painful things you can experience. If you see someone screaming in pain in the ED, the first thing you think is "kidney stone", as basically nobody looks worse off than them pain-wise, and I can verify that the pain is truly amazing in its raw intensity. I have taken care of probably a thousand people with kidney stones over the 10 years I have done this, so I have good experience with what they can do to people.

Women who I know who have had both natural labor without pain medications and also kidney stones are routinely equivocal in which is worse, and plenty will say that they would prefer natural labor. I have taken a total of 3 500mg Tylenols and one shot of 30mg of IV Toradol (a fancy non-narcotic NSAID sort of like IV ibuprofen: works pretty well for kidney stones) for my 12 kidney stones. One was 5x10mm and took 2.5 months to pass. I have worked numerous shifts while passing them and nobody could tell. Only one of them has literally brought me to my knees and made me nearly pass out the pain was to intense: I write about it another post somewhere. What was interesting is my vitals stayed totally normal during that stone: heart rate 60-70, blood pressure about 110/70. This is extremely unusual in people not taking medications that blunt sympathetic tone. Should this be hauled out as some testament to my wisdom? I think not.

My first kidney stone hit while at the start of a two-hour live performance of a band that I played bass for. I kept playing, just thinking I had extremely intense gas cramps, as we had eaten Mexican food before the show and I had plenty of refried beans. Nobody could tell that I was in serious pain. My playing was just fine. This was before I learned meditation. Does this make me some paragon of wisdom or inspiring person, or can I just handle really bad pain well? As I had this ability before I started meditating, I think I just handle pain well, and this is something I think I was born with to some degree, and high pain tolerance is not that rare.

This last Christmas Eve I started passing a kidney stone (later turned out to be 5mm: about as big as one can reasonably pass without surgery) just before my night shift in the ER. As I came on the pain was starting to peak and I was starting to sweat and get nauseated. I walked calmly up to my medical director, who was coming off of the evening shift, and told him that if the pain got worse I might have to take a quick break to sign in an get some Toradol. He was amazed, as I demonstrated no obvious external signs of pain he could see. It this worthy of some sort of fame on its own? I hardly think so. How would David Blaine have handled similar pain? I have no idea, and we have no way to compare them.

One of the more impressive feats of handling pain I have seen happened a few years ago. I remember seeing a woman in her 50's who was ex-military and extremely stoic. Her ankle had been torn open in some injury whose mechanism I can't remember, and her foot was hanging angled inward and backward and was fully dislocated with the distal lower leg bones both sticking out through the large tear in her skin to the outside of her ankle, meaning there was profound disruption of all of the tendons that connected her foot to her ankle.

These are painful injuries, but she had no obvious signs of pain. I began discussing sedating her to relocate her foot and ankle, but she said, "On, just do it now and get it done. I don't mind at all." I was totally surprised but she let me do it without a flinch right then without any pain medications or sedation at all. I've gotta say: that's my idea of truly tough. Is that more or less impressive than David Blaine's' feats? This may be a hard comparison to make, as it would depend on one's criteria for impressive, which are likely subjective. Would you follow her as some guru? Would the public do so? How does this relate to promoting non-dual perception?

I saw a teenage female in labor for the first time. She presented to the ER crowning with strong, regular contractions. She was also in total, and I mean total, denial of her pregnancy. She said she wasn't pregnant, had never had sex, and even when presented with the baby after the delivery said it wasn't her baby. Her grandmother brought her in when her water broke and she suddenly realized that her granddaughter was pregnant. She didn't even look particularly pregnant, but she delivered a normal-weight baby.

I have seen plenty of labor and delivered plenty of babies. Nobody ever looked like her. She walked calmly into the room asking what all the fuss was about with the baby crowning. She didn't sweat. Her heart rate never elevated. She was talking about light and casual topics in a calm and matter-of-fact voice all through the thing. She never showed any obvious sign of pain at all. In short, she was totally dissociated. Would you go following her as your spiritual guru for this impressive feat, and I can tell you, plenty of women would consider that totally impressive, about as impressive as it gets. Somehow this doesn't strike me as wisdom. In fact, it is one of the more disturbing things I have seen, and I have seen plenty of disturbing things. Would you give the baby into the custody of a woman who didn't think the baby she just delivered was her baby? Would you think she would be likely to care for that baby as she should? The analogy is apt, I feel, depending on the source of David's mental aspects, whatever they may be. Does David dissociate? I have no idea and neither should anyone else, it would be very hard to verify one way or the other.

Regardless, dissociation is not the same as wisdom. Fearlessness can come from many sources, not all of which are skillful, so be careful about confusing these in blinding glow of the limelights and hype. Tolerance for profound pain is just something some people have and others clearly can learn. Plenty of people endure all sorts of horrible things all the time. As to the point about people subjecting themselves to horrible things, how does that somehow make it better?

Interesting example for those a bit older: G Gordon Liddy (who helped to orchestrate the Watergate Burglaries) was a man who trained himself to withstand stronger and stronger levels of pain by burning his fingers in flames until he could scorch his finger without showing the slightest expression at all. This was not a person who I consider some profound source of kindness and wisdom, nor an example to live by, but he clearly could endure pain very, very well. Would you follow him in his spiritual path?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/9/14 2:46 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Here's some sweat palm inducing "lack of fear".

650 Metres Shanghai Tower

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/9/14 8:04 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Most people are interested in ending suffering. Wisdom is good, but won't console me much if I still am open to suffering. Your story of intense suffering in hospital was a huge let down. For me, that story was enough to say "I can't follow this person". I have read your descriptions of the rewards of practice but I rarely read the words 'bliss' or 'freedom'.... it's more about wisdom for you. The way you write and speak does not convey freedom, happiness or bliss. You come across as highly intellectual. The cost:benefit analysis doesn't appeal to me.

You ask if I would follow this person or that person. If any one of them could say "I applied this practice and now I am immune to suffering" then yes I would consider it. Also of interest would be someone who can perform supernatural feats.

I understand your view on not wanting to risk your life. I think I know your position on magik, but it's not completely clear. You have mentioned that it's a very frightening and dangerous thing to do, but never really explained what this means.

Is it that you want a bigger following? Fame? If so you have to market the benefits better. People will gladly jump on board if they see a big enough benefit. Your commitment and dedication and hard work are obvious, but much more is needed on the benefits, particularly if suffering cannot be overcome.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/9/14 10:49 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Read the fine print.

Various types of suffering, various timeframes in which they are overcome, various methods for each.

While a body remains, there will be some form of suffering, so said the Buddha anyway.

Other forms can be removed by various methods.

Find me a good example of a reliable report of something reporting no suffering of any kind, including pain, while there is a body. The Buddha clearly didn't sell anything like that.

I wish you the best of luck in your quest to find it. Perhaps my standards are too low. If you find it, let me know, as I have no interest in limiting myself, but currently find your dream unrealistic. Prove me wrong. I would like nothing more, truly.

As to fame, I have more than I know what to do with, and that is not much at all, really, and likely won't last that long. A passing thing in the small corner of an obscure arm of a little-known tradition of relatively odd people. Any good idea how to do something useful with more fame than that and not have it screw lots of things up? I personally don't have that skill set that I know of. I have watched it screw up lots of things for plenty of my betters. I am arrogant, but not enough to imagine that somehow fame would leave me unscathed.

Still, if you wish for advertising, I will give you a little bit in a rare break with my general policy: the most frequent thing I write in my diary. It says variations on the basic theme of, "This mind is truly amazing. What a thing to have done." I also frequently write of the ordinary real-world trials of being alive. Both are true.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/10/14 1:03 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Any good idea how to do something useful with more fame than that and not have it screw lots of things up?


Yes. Use your easy/quick access to the jhanas to heal illness and disease. I can't think of a single reason why this wouldn't be a good move, (unless you can't do it, of course). Even if you just used the jhanas to look inside patient's bodies to make diagnoses, that would provide some proof of having something that is useful in the world. You wouldn't even have to tell the patient you're doing it. There's even money up for grabs if you can prove skeptics wrong. Arrogance doesn't bother me too much (in any case I don't find you arrogant). But honesty is important to me. Can you do it?

I have just re-read the powers chapter in your book. You're not being explicit about the "dangers" involved. Who or what do you believe is going to mess you up if you decide to use power to relieve others' suffering? Isn't normal medicine about relieving others' suffering? Same intent. Intent is everything. Why would the method be in question?

What about a situation where you meet someone who is suffering and cannot get help from western medicine....,You have the ability to see inside the body and determine what's wrong, but you are too afraid of what might happen to you, so you decide not to help her but let her suffer. It would be more selfless to help the person and get over your own anxieties.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/10/14 4:06 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
CCC:

Most people are interested in ending suffering. Wisdom is good, but won't console me much if I still am open to suffering….I have read your descriptions of the rewards of practice but I rarely read the words 'bliss' or 'freedom'.... it's more about wisdom for you. The way you write and speak does not convey freedom, happiness or bliss. You come across as highly intellectual. The cost:benefit analysis doesn't appeal to me

"Most people".…What about you, CCC? Do you want the end of suffering, and freedom, happiness or bliss? Do you think it is possible? And what are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it?

CCC:

Use your easy/quick access to the jhanas to heal illness and disease. I can't think of a single reason why this wouldn't be a good move, (unless you can't do it, of course). Even if you just used the jhanas to look inside patient's bodies to make diagnoses, that would provide some proof of having something that is useful in the world. You wouldn't even have to tell the patient you're doing it. There's even money up for grabs if you can prove skeptics wrong. Arrogance doesn't bother me too much (in any case I don't find you arrogant). But honesty is important to me. Can you do it?



You believe Daniel believes he can do it, right? What about you, CCC? Do you think he can do it? Please be honest.

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/10/14 5:13 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Dear CCC,

Regarding jhanas, the powers and healing, there are numerous problems with this suggestion.

1) While I do have access to the jhanas very rapidly, there is this whole other level I can get to where things get much more powers-heavy, but it takes about 10 days or so of solid practice to get there, at least for me, and it shatters like a pane of glass within a day of stopping, so for me, this is not a realistic option. I have been there twice on retreat. Even then, what comes is very, very weird. I can only imagine the conversation with a surgeon: "I felt this grey-red disturbance in the astral plane around their appendix, so you should take it out now." It is the sort of thing that would rapidly end my career, not enhance patient care.

2) Even when things do get very powers-heavy in that territory, the powers are notoriously unreliable, as anyone who has played with them will tell you. I prefer things like CT scanners, MRIs, X-rays, labs, physical diagnosis skills, history taking, and the like to diagnose people, as that is what my training is and I know how to do that. None of those are fool-proof either, but their deficiencies are well-known and well-quantified, so compensating for them is easier, whereas nobody has any idea of, say the positive and negative likelihood ratios or sensitivities and specificities of the powers for any given person on any given day in whatever set of circumstances for whatever condition. The powers are not the sort of thing you want to base things on in a rapid-fire medical setting. I know of nobody that has the dual skill-set of being able to practice fast-paced emergency medicine and also can reliably tap into diagnostic powers that would then easily translate to something beyond what we ordinarily do. Does such a person exist? I have no idea. I am not among them. I plan to stick to what people expect, what my colleagues can relate to, and what I can reasonably do reliably. That's not the powers, as intriguing as they may sound to those who haven't played with them. On that note...

Have you considered a powers retreat? If you find them fascinating, then they can be an interesting lure to develop all sorts of concentration and even insights if done skillfully, which I presume would be your intention. Take a few weeks, really get your concentration strong doing a visual kasina object +/- mantra, and then intend to let them happen when your kasina level reaches the standard level of fluency recommended in, say, the Visuddhimagga in the usual chapters. I think that after you did that we could have a much more educated conversation about their pros and cons based on a more mutually shared experience base.

It is this sort of verification and exploration for ones self that this place is about. Care to follow its core premise in your own life?

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/10/14 5:57 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel,
Perhaps I may read into what you are not saying and ask a question. In reading about "Some Thoughts on Magick and the Brahma Viharas", are you saying you never do anything magickal in the slightest during your ER time? I assume you do use your "intent" in a focused way and assume as well that you "do" some good will and healing intent too. This of course must be secondary to emergency treatment but during the pauses...what do you do? Anything formulaic or just what you are called to do?
Thanks,
~D

RE: MCTB2: "My Spiritual Quest": Anything you want me to include?
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3/10/14 7:43 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
I think that what CCC means by magick, given his suggested uses, is a much more narrow and high-end definition than the broad one I use there, so we are really talking apples and oranges.

Using that most broad definition, any intent and concentration falls into that category, but I don't get the sense that this is what he is talking about.

CCC: thoughts?

I could hardly tell you where the exact line between ordinary intent and wherever you or anyone else draw the line is.

When I do trigger point injections, I know where the points are, not just in general, but on people. It is that I have done this thousands of times and somehow I can just sense in some ordinary but seemingly extraordinary way where they are, or is that something unusual? I have no idea, but I know where their points are before I feel them. Is this some refined pattern recognition that has gone subconscious? I couldn't tell you. Is that magick? I have no idea, but patients comment on it and find it at once helpful, as I can quickly identify spots to inject, and also a touch amazing. Plenty of skills that people have practiced for many years are amazing to those who haven't, so this may be nothing at all unusual.

Do I ever do things that to me seem somewhat magickal, realizing that I couldn't tell you where one thing ended and the other began? That's a really grey zone to try to navigate. Do I ever do what most people might call formal magick in the ED? No. Do we all have some spidey-sense about things sometimes regarding patients? All of my colleagues report this, so that is nothing unusual.

In general, I really keep the paradigms in their individual boxes. Perhaps someone more innovative and daring than my conservative self will one day do something more formal to integrate them, but what would the public think?