Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

J C, modified 6 Years ago.

Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Interesting research study done on enlightened people:

As the overall picture was examined what emerged was a continuum that seemed to progress from ‘normal’ waking consciousness toward a distant location where participants reported no individualized sense of self, no self-related thoughts, no emotion, and no apparent sense of agency or ability to make a choice. Locations prior to this seemed to involve consistent changes toward this direction.


Clusters of Individual Experiences form a Continuum of Persistent Non-Symbolic Experiences in Adults

The research found five core, consistent categories of change: sense-of-self, cognition, emotion, perception, and memory.

The researcher, Jeffery Martin, also did some interesting interviews, including a really awesome one with AI researcher Ben Goertzel for humanism plus magazine on engineering enlightenment, and one with a bizarrely hostile interviewer for nonduality magazine:

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/07/bg-224-the-study-of-non-symbolic-consciousness/
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2011/07/bg-225-the-end-of-self-referencing/
http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/08/08/engineering-enlightenment-part-one/
http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/08/10/engineering-enlightenment-part-two/
http://hplusmagazine.com/2012/08/13/engineering-enlightenment-part-three/
http://nondualitymagazine.org/nonduality_magazine.enlightenment.jeffreymartin.htm
thumbnail
Daniel M. Ingram, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 3167 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Jeffrey came by and spent two days at my house, interviewing me for about 9 hours, if I recall properly.

He defintely has his biases and personal vision of the hierarchy of development that I don't entirely agree with, but still, he asked me more about my experience and showed more careful, nuanced interest than anyone who has ever talked with me about it, so it is good he is going out there and doing this work.

I absolutely have no idea what to make of his Finders course, as it claims in relatively short time to induce remarkable levels of awakening in subjects with freakishly short and small doses of practice, but strong skepticism is nearly impossible for me to avoid, though my knowledge of the specifics of what he has done and its effects are very limited, it must be admitted.

His stuff is definitely something to pay attention to, though plenty of people I know who know him express various doubts about various things. Still, that could be said of most of what we do here, so the meaning of this may be unclear.
J C, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
He says he didn't expect people to get there so quickly either:

Jeffery Martin:
I’m probably the world’s leading academic expert on Persistent Non-Symbolic Experience at this point, and I would have bet everything I had against this kind of rapid transition to PNSE being possible. That was a huge surprise. I’m still in a little bit of disbelief about it, even though now we’ve had so many people make that transition.


from interview at http://realitysandwich.com/229496/demystifying-enlightenment-jeffrey-a-martin-explains-the-finders-course/

In that interview, he says that it takes a long time to wake up if you use a technique that isn't quite matched with you, but if you use one that is matched with you, it can make you wake up very quickly. He says there are 6 "greatest hits" techniques and you just have to use the right one, and mentions mantras as one of them - I'm curious what the others are. Anyone have any idea? They don't appear to be listed anywhere.

I find that odd in that many of us have tried many different techniques and we don't seem to be getting his results about super-fast awakening.

I also get the same sense of him trying to sell me something in his writing, Droll - seems weird that he'd do so many careful interviews though. I bought his book "The God Formula" and was pretty disappointed - it's pretty superficial stuff about visualizing the outcomes you want with emotion and then releasing them.
J C, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Jeffrey came by and spent two days at my house, interviewing me for about 9 hours, if I recall properly.

He defintely has his biases and personal vision of the hierarchy of development that I don't entirely agree with, but still, he asked me more about my experience and showed more careful, nuanced interest than anyone who has ever talked with me about it, so it is good he is going out there and doing this work.

I absolutely have no idea what to make of his Finders course, as it claims in relatively short time to induce remarkable levels of awakening in subjects with freakishly short and small doses of practice, but strong skepticism is nearly impossible for me to avoid, though my knowledge of the specifics of what he has done and its effects are very limited, it must be admitted.

His stuff is definitely something to pay attention to, though plenty of people I know who know him express various doubts about various things. Still, that could be said of most of what we do here, so the meaning of this may be unclear.


Daniel, can you elaborate on Jeffery's biases and your disagreement regarding the hierarchy of development?

Do you think there's something to the idea that selecting the best technique for the individual can remarkably speed up time to enlightenment (he claims years vs. weeks)?

What do you think the other five of his six "greatest hits" techniques are (he's stated that mantras are one)?
thumbnail
Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
This kind of research absolutely fascinates me, but... something about this guy seems off.

I watched the Vimeo vid for the Finders course and quickly got the sense I was being sold something. In that vid he has this soft, weak, New Age-y voice with inflection that slows down the last few words in ev..er..y sen...tence... that doesn't sit right with me. I couldn't find any info about price on the suspiciously market-ey Finders course website, but later saw something about a "33% discount" on this other interview site.

I'd like to know how much this guy's actually interested in studying enlightenment and how much he's just trying to make a buck off of being the first to take a decent enlightenment survey.

The raw interview data would also be much more interesting than his filtered paper.
Participants experiencing the far end of the continuum provided further insight on this phenomenon. An example occurred during a participant interview on a major college campus. It was one of the first warm days of the season and quite a few women on campus were lying out on the lawns in swimsuits. Knowing that the participant was heterosexual, I asked about his experience of all of these attractive young women. The participant responded that occasionally he would notice his eyes orient to one of them, but nothing further would arise.When asked to speculate on why the orientation had occurred, he stated that he assumed it was a low-level hardcoded reproductive response.
Sounds like puritinical scripting to me, but if there are different types of enlightenment I'd like to formally opt out of this kind
thumbnail
Bill F., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Yes, do a little research into Martin. I'm not suggesting that he is not sincere, but there has been some concern as to his integrity as a researcher. Having not spoken with Martin, I can't know for sure what his methodology was, but I think much of it was verbal interviews. Judson Brewer, who I spoke with a few times in 2010/2011 about a similar study, struck me very much as being a person of integrity, and was doing actual brain scans of the subjects he studied, a number of whom can be found on this board.
thumbnail
Colleen Karalee Peltomaa, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 401 Join Date: 6/19/14 Recent Posts
Thank you, JC for bringing this to my attention. What are his range of practices?  Here is his YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH6pMDwo3MF-a9CANDYBAPA

I'm always happy to accept any practices that would make my practices look like a slow road to China and still get the job done, i.e., nirvana.  I see no point in halfway measures.

$1270 seems a fair price to me judging by the testimonials.

"transtechlab.org" is his research site.

Thank you again, JC, for presenting this work.
thumbnail
Jenny, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 566 Join Date: 7/28/13 Recent Posts
J C, I find it distrubing that (if I remember correctly, heh heh) virtually all the enlightened interviewees claimed to have significant short- and medium-term memory deficits, to the point that they displayed lists everywhere to try to remember nonroutine appointments. Everything else I've read claims that meditation actually improves memory. I have an ominous genetic profile for Alzheimer's disease, supposedly with cognitive decline beginning this decade I'm now in, so this is a thing for me, obviously. If all these people function just as before in the real world, then I wonder why the memory deficit is there. I wonder if it has more to do with increased attention to the transient here and now, rather than a poorly working memory capacity per se. In other words, maybe fourth-pathers are all a bit ADD in the hyperfocusing sense. 
thumbnail
Droll Dedekind, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2822876

Dan mentioned this in his actualism essay, but I don't recall if he said it improved. And, Vince Horn mentioned it in a talk he gave about his awakening story. He said he had moments of it, but it didn't stick.
thumbnail
Eric M W, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 288 Join Date: 3/19/14 Recent Posts
Jenny:
J C, I find it distrubing that (if I remember correctly, heh heh) virtually all the enlightened interviewees claimed to have significant short- and medium-term memory deficits, to the point that they displayed lists everywhere to try to remember nonroutine appointments. Everything else I've read claims that meditation actually improves memory. I have an ominous genetic profile for Alzheimer's disease, supposedly with cognitive decline beginning this decade I'm now in, so this is a thing for me, obviously. If all these people function just as before in the real world, then I wonder why the memory deficit is there. I wonder if it has more to do with increased attention to the transient here and now, rather than a poorly working memory capacity per se. In other words, maybe fourth-pathers are all a bit ADD in the hyperfocusing sense. 
There was a thread about this, as Droll has pointed out. Daniel admitted that he found himself forgetting trivial things, like his memory had declined somewhat. I'm not sure if this was a permanent problem for him or others.

My pet theory-- it's simply a side effect of the arahat "teflon mind." All sensations simply arise and pass, there is no self to obsess over or suffer over trivial things, so they are simply forgotten as if they never were. Just a pet theory, though.
J C, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Jenny:
J C, I find it distrubing that (if I remember correctly, heh heh) virtually all the enlightened interviewees claimed to have significant short- and medium-term memory deficits, to the point that they displayed lists everywhere to try to remember nonroutine appointments. Everything else I've read claims that meditation actually improves memory. I have an ominous genetic profile for Alzheimer's disease, supposedly with cognitive decline beginning this decade I'm now in, so this is a thing for me, obviously. If all these people function just as before in the real world, then I wonder why the memory deficit is there. I wonder if it has more to do with increased attention to the transient here and now, rather than a poorly working memory capacity per se. In other words, maybe fourth-pathers are all a bit ADD in the hyperfocusing sense. 

Not "virtually all," only a few at the very far end of his spectrum, and it was described as not remembering things that are part of a routine unless they put them in their phone to remind them. Well, I also can't remember appointments unless I put them in my phone or schedule to remind me, so I'm not seeing anything particularly remarkable about that. But then I'm also a bit ADD.

I agree with you about increased attention to the here and now. Some of his subjects said they couldn't remember the past but upon prompting were able to recite detailed recollections. It's not too surprising to me that a practice of focusing on the present rather than the past and future would reduce or eliminate thoughts repeatedly popping up about some future event - how are you supposed to be present while remembering "2pm Tuesday doctors appointment, 5pm Wednesday dentist appointment" and calling it up to yourself every few minutes? I imagine it has to do with decreased activity in the "default mode" network.

So I don't really see the problem here - that's why we have smart phones and appointment books. Just log whatever appointments you have and then make a regular habit of checking them.
thumbnail
Not Tao, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 997 Join Date: 4/5/14 Recent Posts
This paper seems to validate Richard's claims (regarding actual freedom).  It says the continuum moves towards a point where only positive emotions are experienced, then emotional experience goes away completely.
thumbnail
Daniel Leffler, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 292 Join Date: 9/9/14 Recent Posts
Not Tao:
This paper seems to validate Richard's claims (regarding actual freedom).  It says the continuum moves towards a point where only positive emotions are experienced, then emotional experience goes away completely.

That's funny Not Tao, I was actually thinking the exact opposite, considering the outcome of being emotionally free is referred to as a continuum of spiritual insight (or PNSE according to Martin's research) and not a 180 degrees different animal as Richard claims

Regarding Actualism v. Buddhism there's also this from the suttas that I pointed to last week from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/desilva/wheel407.html#fn-1-11

Regarding the experience of the arahant, the Suttanipaata states that by the destruction of all feelings/sensations a monk lives desireless and at peace.[11] Once Saariputta was asked what happiness there can be when there is no feeling/sensation.[12] He explained that the absence of feeling/sensation itself is happiness.[13] It is relevant to note here that the Buddha says that he does not speak of happiness only with reference to pleasant feelings/sensations. Wherever there is happiness or pleasure, that he recognizes as happiness or pleasure.[14]

So is this argument about how Actualism relates to spirituality and Buddhism finally resolved and, if so, what do I win?! ;)
Triumphantly,
Daniel
thumbnail
Bill F., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
At least one of those people Not Tao is referring to was on this board, and was said by Jefferey Martin, the researcher, to be at the far end of the spectrum. He later acknowledged he was not free of emotions. Again, Martin, to the best of my knowledge, conducted this research as verbal interviews, and reported what he had heard. He also reported that many of those same people who reported no emotions exhibited all of the trademark external features of someone who had emotions, acted them out, and responded to emotions. One of those people interviewed was Gary Weber who did also participate in Judson Brewer's brain scan study (if my memory is correct) and seems to have some minor variation in his thought free state, though Daniel Ingram wrote previously that he definitely seems to display emotions.

Not tao: I am beginning to think you are a troll. If you've read my previous comments you know I am not against trolls. If not, what is your intention in compulsively referencing a system of teachings that belittles the teachings dominant on this reference board (some stream of Buddhism)?

Bill
thumbnail
Chris Marti, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 3784 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I was also a subject of Jefferey Martin's "non-symbolic consciousness" study. There were several pre-tests we all had to take, all online, prior to being selected by Martin to participate via interview. I believe those test results drove the selection of the interview subjects. In the original write up by Martin, the subjects were listed according to their scores and reported out on in a not-very-private manner (and not rigorously academic, IMHO). So it wasn't purely an interview based study. When I spoke to Martin it was for about 6 or 7 hours in a restaurant near my house and we spent most of the time talking about me and a little bit about his models of awakening, which he drew pictures of on napkins. It seemed to me at the time (2008 or so) that he was basing a lot of what he was hypothesizing on Gary Weber, who was then his "star subject." Gary, who I have talked to a bit, had a somewat different awakening experience than most folks I know in the pragmatic dharma community -- which may point to Daniel's disagreements with Martin's version.

I also asked Martin at that time if he was interested in attaining the awakening that he was spending so much time driving around the country interviewing others about and he said, quite abruptly, "No." So that now appears to have changed  :-)

When we left the interview Martin's car had been towed away for being left in its parking space for too long, so my time with Martin was extended by about an hour as I drove him to the car pound to retrieve the car, and where he had to convince the clerks to let him into the trunk of the car first in order to get money with which to pay the fee. So, yeah, that happened.

As to Martin's credentials, I believe he is very earnest and his study is useful but he has also taken some liberties in describing affiliation with Harvard. You can look it up online if you wish to pursue that further.
thumbnail
Bill F., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Thank you for providing that information Chris. Having been part of the study, as well as involved with the pragmatic dharma community for a while, I am curious if you have more thoughts on the developmental schema proposed by Martin.
thumbnail
Chris Marti, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 3784 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Bill, I'd have to do some refreshing of my memory about Jefferey Martin's model first :-)

<pun intended>

And to the point about memory, I can report a dimished level of some capacity as well. It's not debilitating but the small stuff (that which is not to be sweat about) is not sticking with me like it used to. 

I'll review Martin's model and post something later.
thumbnail
Bill F., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
Ha, indeed. Sounds good.
J C, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:

I also asked Martin at that time if he was interested in attaining the awakening that he was spending so much time driving around the country interviewing others about and he said, quite abruptly, "No." So that now appears to have changed  :-)


Thanks - good to hear from more people who took part in this study! I find it really fascinating.

What makes you say that he appears to have changed? Has he now stated that he's interesting in attaining these states himself?
thumbnail
Chris Marti, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 3784 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
In my conversation with Jefferey Martin it was made clear (by him) that his purpose was to find non-traditioinal "short cuts" to awakening, what he calls non-symbolic consciousness. These short cuts could be anything from new techniques of meditation or self inquiry, to neuro-technology. He's now working closely with Mikey Siegel who is more into the technology than anything, although he, too, is a meditator.

I don't put Martin's work in the purely academic mode, because it's not. It's a practical study with a hypothesis behind it but not for the purpose of peer review and falsification by the scientific community but to help human beings access this form of concsiousness that Martin sees as helpful and somewhow "better" than the standard view we all grow up with.

As for Martin's interest in being "awake" himself, I assume he's tried his own Finder's material and techniques himself but that's just an assumption on my part. I could be wrong.
J C, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Bill F.:

Not tao: I am beginning to think you are a troll. If you've read my previous comments you know I am not against trolls. If not, what is your intention in compulsively referencing a system of teachings that belittles the teachings dominant on this reference board (some stream of Buddhism)?


This is a board where all different forms of teaching can be discussed and referenced. I find Not Tao's insights and comparisons highly relevant, especially in this thread, which is not specifically about Buddhism. Martin's studies included enlightened people from many different traditions.
thumbnail
Bill F., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
J.C,

        You're just upset because I checked you on the other thread. Let it go, bruh. 

Edit: Edited to add "J.C" so it was clear it was him I was referecing.
J C, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Bill F.:
J.C,

        You're just upset because I checked you on the other thread. Let it go, bruh. 

Edit: Edited to add "J.C" so it was clear it was him I was referecing.

I'm sorry, I don't understand. You seemed to have the idea that this was a Buddhist-only discussion so I wanted to clarify. Apologies if I came off as brusque or upset - I really didn't mean it that way.

Which other thread do you mean? I don't know what you're referring to.
thumbnail
Bill F., modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 558 Join Date: 11/17/13 Recent Posts
J.C: I think you understand better than me, not tao, or even Daniel Ingram on this one. But I will let you play the game of ignorance. I would do the same if I were you. But I have read what you've written on many threads and I know that on a deep level you KNOW. I am sorry if I caused any offense. Your first post in response to my question -which was sincere- but a question none the less, was exactly right. Apologies. I have reproduced your comment below, hopefully with your permission. If not, I will delete.


"This is a board where all different forms of teaching can be discussed and referenced. I find Not Tao's insights and comparisons highly relevant, especially in this thread, which is not specifically about Buddhism. Martin's studies included enlightened people from many different traditions." J.C

And for further reference, here is the comparison and insight you referenced:  "This paper seems to validate Richard's claims (regarding actual freedom).  It says the continuum moves towards a point where only positive emotions are experienced, then emotional experience goes away completely." Not Tao

Not Tao: If you want me to remove this, I will, just let me know.
J C, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Research Study on a Continuum of Enlightenment

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Daniel Leffler:
Not Tao:
This paper seems to validate Richard's claims (regarding actual freedom).  It says the continuum moves towards a point where only positive emotions are experienced, then emotional experience goes away completely.

That's funny Not Tao, I was actually thinking the exact opposite, considering the outcome of being emotionally free is referred to as a continuum of spiritual insight (or PNSE according to Martin's research) and not a 180 degrees different animal as Richard claims.


Both those thoughts occurred to me as well while reading Martin's paper. I have always thought that there is a lot of value in the Actualist teachings, but that Richard seems to limit and stereotype Buddhism/spirituality in a way that confines it to opposing what he teaches, despite the overlaps and similarities.

Martin's research seems to confirm that - the tentative conclusion I get from Martin's research is that Richard is correct about reaching a point with positive emotions and then no emotions, but incorrect that it's a completely different direction.

Richard seems to take a very narrow and limited view of Buddhism - I actually agree with the focus on the actual world, not believing in the supernatural, and enjoying sex and pleasures of life, but I prefer to take the parts of Buddhism I like and disregard the rebirth/renunciation aspects, rather than call it a completely different direction.