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Enlightenment as Dissociation?

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Enlightenment as Dissociation? This Good Self 3/20/16 9:11 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Psi 3/20/16 7:50 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Richard Zen 3/20/16 11:02 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? This Good Self 3/22/16 5:47 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Robert 3/22/16 10:36 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Small Steps 3/22/16 1:29 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? C P M 3/30/16 10:16 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Small Steps 3/31/16 11:15 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 3/26/16 3:20 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Richard Zen 3/28/16 1:20 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 3/31/16 8:57 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Richard Zen 3/31/16 6:25 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 4/3/16 2:54 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Robert 3/21/16 9:15 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? . Jake . 3/21/16 10:12 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Stirling Campbell 3/21/16 12:02 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Monsoon Frog 3/24/16 2:53 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? This Good Self 3/24/16 2:35 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Monsoon Frog 3/24/16 3:03 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? . Jake . 3/25/16 10:25 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Pål 3/25/16 6:09 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? CJMacie 3/27/16 5:43 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Pål 3/27/16 8:23 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Dada Kind 3/24/16 2:42 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Monsoon Frog 3/24/16 10:21 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Pål 3/25/16 8:22 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? CJMacie 3/27/16 5:38 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Ben V. 3/24/16 7:22 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Pål 3/25/16 7:40 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? This Good Self 3/26/16 12:55 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 3/26/16 3:14 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? This Good Self 3/26/16 6:00 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 3/27/16 1:16 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Robert 3/27/16 1:56 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Alexander Entelechy 4/2/16 5:38 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? This Good Self 4/3/16 7:36 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? CJMacie 4/4/16 7:14 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 3/27/16 1:10 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Noah 3/27/16 1:34 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 3/27/16 2:27 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Noah 3/27/16 1:39 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 3/31/16 8:54 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? CJMacie 4/4/16 7:09 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Caro 4/5/16 8:13 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? CJMacie 4/5/16 9:02 PM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Ernest Michael Olmos 3/31/16 10:03 AM
RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation? Banned For waht? 4/3/16 10:00 AM
Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/20/16 9:11 PM
I met someone recently in person whom I believe is 'enlightened'.  I don't want to talk him down in case I'm wrong, so I won't mention names.  He is well known and well-regarded generally. 

I was struck at how flat in affect he was.  The words 'comfortably numb' came to mind, and in fact this song by Pink Flowd was the first thing to appear on the radio when I drove away after the session.   Suffering may have been impossible, but it looked like joy and immediacy were also.  The other words that came to mind were 'catatonia' and 'dissociation'. 

It was clear from the descriptions he gave of the process of 'waking up' (over years) that this process was the result of major reorganization of the brain's circuitry.  Certain pathways had shut down.

If meditation is uncomfortable due to the lack of sensory stimulation/pleasure, then continually bringing oneself in contact with that discomfort  may make the mind dissociate.  Just as it does with severe trauma.  Eventually the mind changes structurally to reflect a full-time dissociation.  Does the mind split off a new self?  Possible?  This person I'm describing seemed out ot tocuh with the reality.  He looked like he could have sat in meditation for years on end without any issues.

Made we wonder about imaging of enlightenment vs dissociation.  Do we have radiological evidence (fMRI, EEG etc) to make the comparison?

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/20/16 7:50 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:

Made we wonder about imaging of enlightenment vs dissociation.  Do we have radiological evidence (fMRI, EEG etc) to make the comparison?
I have not read this, so could not recommend it, just kind of FYI, Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman have just released a new book.

How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain

http://smile.amazon.com/dp/1594633452/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1FROPXIZYGF0A&coliid=I2WMXP2JE5C9MJ
In this original and groundbreaking book, Andrew Newberg, M.D., and Mark Robert Waldman turn their attention to the pinnacle of the human experience: enlightenment. Through his brain- scan studies on Brazilian psychic mediums, Sufi mystics, Buddhist meditators, Franciscan nuns, Pentecostals, and participants in secular spirituality rituals, Newberg has discovered the specific neurological mechanisms associated with the enlightenment experience--and how we might activate those circuits in our own brains.
 
In his survey of more than one thousand people who have experienced enlightenment, Newberg has also discovered that in the aftermath they have had profound, positive life changes. Enlightenment offers us the possibility to become permanently less stress-prone, to break bad habits, to improve our collaboration and creativity skills, and to lead happier, more satisfying lives. Relaying the story of his own transformational experience as well as including the stories of others who try to describe an event that is truly indescribable, Newberg brings us a new paradigm for deep and lasting change.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/20/16 11:02 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Rob Burbea in particular noted that many students felt that just staying in the present moment they were just losing the enjoyable parts of their self along with the stressful ones. Mahayana allows for a full range of using your brain. I think that there are Theravada types out there (like Daniel) that tweak the practice to keep emotions. Emotions don't hurt very much when you already have lots of stress relief and then you can enjoy emotions in healthy ways as long as you keep skillfulness in your intentions.

When facing death I think really letting go all the way is helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqCOss4hqnE

Higher Consciousness

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/21/16 9:15 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Op, a lot of the stuff that you write are mere assumptions from your part. Based on sensory experiences and thoughts you had and projected outside.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/21/16 10:12 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
CCC, I think what you've observed in the teacher is definitely something that happens sometimes. Whether it's the goal of a particular style of practice or whether it's a mistaken path that sometimes happens I can't say. What I can say is it certainly isn't the oly way for meditation to proceed. It's not been my experience of practice at all. If anything I'm more alive and happy than I've been since childhood, while also being more mature and balanced than ever. Lots of normal suffering in response to things that don't go my way, interpersonal conflicts, etc. But also greater ability to navigate difficulties without repressing my emotions or spiritually bypassing. My 2 cents!

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/21/16 12:02 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
I'm not enlightened certainly, but my experience is that being able to walk around with a decent amount of non-attachment and low-level meditative awareness has actually has made my life much more enjoyable and joyful, and contributed to my ability to actually appreciate the amazing beauty of things as they are - now. Over the last month or so my view has taken on a richness that has made the appearance of things more luminous and that has contributed as well. I honestly can't see how going further down this path would change the way things have been building up.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/22/16 5:47 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Thanks all.

I guess I still have a notion that the enlightened person will be deliriously blissful.  Isn't that what happens when the DMN switches off?

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/22/16 10:36 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Thanks all.

I guess I still have a notion that the enlightened person will be deliriously blissful.  Isn't that what happens when the DMN switches off?


Let's say you're actually in bed dreaming right now. When waking up happens and the dream is realized as having been a mere dream, what importance do any of the things that were so important to the dream character hold now? And an "enlightened person" is still an appearance within a dream. Any information, data, new findings about the brain, no matter how enlightened the brain might seem, is also nothing but an empty dream. No actual persons in it, no unenlightened or enlightened beings in it either. All empty.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/22/16 1:29 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
Thanks all.

I guess I still have a notion that the enlightened person will be deliriously blissful.  Isn't that what happens when the DMN switches off?

Why would you think either of these things?

I would find a person who was deliriously blissed out all the time to be just as potentially disassociative as one who was withdrawn from the world in some gray state. Same with someone who was severely depressed.

The default mode network is supposed to deactivate during certain cognitive tasks (completely unrelated to meditation). I don't think those result in delirious bliss either.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/24/16 2:53 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
While skimming an article today, this thread came to mind, so I'll post it for what it's worth. I'm not offering an opinion as I don't have the range of experiences, nor have I reviewed relevant research data that might support or refute the thesis. See below.

On a different tack, I recall that during one of Shinzen Young's Youtube videos he gave his opinion on how different contemplative methodologies/traditions/practices can result in different results and/or affect ... I can't recall his exact terminology but if memory serves my recollection of his opinion was that successful Vipassana/Theravadan practice can lead to a more subdued or restrained sort of attainment vs. some other traditions. That sort of info isn't especially reassuring, at least to me as an artist, nonetheless it's an issue worth investigating. I'd felt that some 'heat' was drained off of my emotional life by my newly acquired meditation practice (I've only been meditating three years but that includes silent retreats of 60 days, 76 days, and several 10-day retreats) so count me as one who is both curious and apprehensive. One question that's been in my head since I began practising is will the practice kill the art. Passion can drive art; if one looks into the etymology of the word passion it's from 'pati', which is Latin for suffer ; )

One other topic worthy of exploration is indifference, the 'near enemy'' of equanimity. Could what you observed be an expression of indifference? Just tossing some ideas around.

--------


(http://rigorousintuition.ca/board2/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=32959&start=15)

The Battle For Your Mind

Persuasion & Brainwashing Techniques Being Used On The Public Today

By Dick Sutphen

"Decognition Process


Step Three is Thought Stopping
: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go flat -- altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with that focuses awareness. The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination. The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controllers direct. The mental takeover is then complete. It is important to be aware that when members or participants are instructed to use thought-stopping techniques, they are told that they will benefit by so doing: they will become better soldiers or attain enlightenment.

There are three primary techniques used for thought stopping. The first is Marching: The thump, thump, thump beat literally generates self-hypnosis and thus greater susceptibility to suggestion. In the early stages of his rise to power, Adolph Hitler used marching demonstrations and the excitement as a mass conversion technique for those attending his rallies, and in the decognition phase for his soldiers.

The second thought-stopping technique is Meditation. If you spend 90 minutes or more a day in meditation, after a few weeks, there is high probability that you will not return to full Beta consciousness. You will remain in a fixed state of Alpha for as long as you continue to meditate. I'm not saying this is bad. If you do it yourself, it may be very beneficial. But know that you are causing your mind to go flat. I've worked with meditators on an EEG machine and the results are conclusive: the more you meditate, the flatter your mind becomes until, eventually and especially if used to excess or in combination with decognition, all thought ceases. Some spiritual groups call this nirvana -- which is just another manipulation. The mental state is simply a predictable physiological result. If heaven on earth is non-thinking and non-involvement, I really question why we are here.

The third thought-stopping technique is Chanting, and often chanting in meditation. Speaking in tongues could also be included in this category.

All three thought-stopping techniques produce an altered state of consciousness. This may be desirable if you are controlling the process, for you also control the input. I personally use at least one self-hypnosis programming session every day and I know how beneficial it is for me. But you need to know if you use these techniques to the degree of remaining continually in Alpha that, although you'll be very mellow, you'll also be more suggestible."

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/24/16 2:35 AM as a reply to Monsoon Frog.
Monsoon Frog:
While skimming an article today, this thread came to mind, so I'll post it for what it's worth:

(http://rigorousintuition.ca/board2/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=32959&start=15)

The Battle For Your Mind

Persuasion & Brainwashing Techniques
Being Used On The Public Today


By Dick Sutphen

Thanks for this.  I have spoken to some at the meeting and many are extremely flat.  They talk in meek, dreary monotones and are pale and lifeless, staring into nothingness.  Two people in particular reminded me of concentration camp survivors - no exaggeration.  I believe they are doing themselves enormous harm.

Having said that, I look at some of the responses here, and also guys like Mattieu Ricard (happiest man on earth) and I am confused.

Right now, my conclusion is that it's possible the flat affect people are doing it wrong.  Or they have severe mental illness pre-existing.  But either way, great care needs to be taken.  Something terribly wrong was happening and it bothered me.  I don't mean they were being manipulated  though - there was no evidence of that.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/24/16 3:03 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
 I don't mean they were being manipulated  though - there was no evidence of that.
Just to be clear I wasn’t implying that either (although from what one reads there is certainly plenty of that in spiritual communities … Bill Hamilton’s book Saints and Psyhcopaths is a nice place to start that inquiry, and can be found free online). Rather, that it’s worth investigating the potential that some techniques and methods, even when done correctly, might have an impact on affect.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/24/16 7:22 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
I am not awakened yet. But a few things I may share on this. It seems awakened people all have different personalities, just as unenlightened people. Mahasi Sayadaw seemed to have been of the cool, aloof variety. But then take his student Munindraji; very animated character. Just listen to a Dhamma talk of his. He could speak very quickly for hours. And Dipa Ma: cool and calm demeanor but could be quite affectionate in a motherly way, hugging her students or holding their hands for example.

This topic also ties into a debate I once had with someone who criticized vipassana as dissociation. My argument (coming from my experience as both psychodynamic therapist and vipassana practitioner, and from personal experience) was that dissociation is to cut off from an experience out of fear of that experience. It is a form of aversion. Vipassana is to disembed from experience by seeing very closely and intimately that experience as impermanent, unsatisfactory and without core self. It is not aversion but equanimity, dispassion (viraga in Pali), born of seeing experience in a precise way. Dispassion and dissociation may look similar from reading some definitions they are both given, but qualitatively speaking when they are experienced, they are worlds apart.

Perhaps from the ouitside an enlightened person may sometimes seem dissociated, subjectively it may not be so for that person.

IMHO.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/24/16 2:42 PM as a reply to Monsoon Frog.
The video Monsoon is thinking of:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WiM-w5qqmE

CCC, what do you see as the polar opposite of dissociation? I would argue that it's embodiment and that some traditions cultivate it to the extreme:
https://www.youtube.com/user/DharmaOceanTeachings

One might also say expressiveness. In that case I'd say the Bioenergetics tradition of Alexander Lowen cultivates that to an extreme. But still, there's a lineage from there to Dharma Ocean

Bioenergetics with Lowen --> Hakomi with Kurtz --> Dharma Ocean with Reggie

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/24/16 10:21 PM as a reply to Dada Kind.

Yep that's the video I was refering to ("Bouncy" Zen vs. "Paint-by-Numbers" Vipassana ~ Shinzen Young), thanks for posting the link Droll. 
Like the OP, Shinzen specifically uses the term 'flat' when describing a certain type of Vipassana practioner. 

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/25/16 7:40 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Could you tell us in which trafition(s) he had been/is practicing?

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/25/16 8:22 AM as a reply to Monsoon Frog.
Btw this could be relevant!
http://youtu.be/64BBTV3FOc4

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/25/16 10:25 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Perhaps relevant to this conversation, I recall from the book 'Transformations in Consciousness' the results of a study of meditators on three-month retreat in Burma in the seventies some interesting data.

basically the subjects were divided into two large groups, one focusing on shamatha meditation and the other focusing on vipassana. They were evaluated before during and after with an interview format using thematic apperception testing, similar to rorschach-- abstract images that the subjects were asked to associate to or describe.

The shamatha group became more and more literal over the course of the retreat (i.e., from responses like 'looks like a mouse' to responses like 'looks like a black blob') while the vipassana group became more and more creative (i.e. from 'looks like a mouse' to more elaborate and emotionally charged stories reflective of the stage of the progress of insight or awakening they were in).

When I do standard silent meditation (as opposed to Vajrayana style stuff which is a different beast in many ways) I usually spend the beginning of a session intentionally restricting my awareness a bit to the sensations of breathing in the whole body. Then I usually let up and intentionally 'decompress' allowing sensations of body, emotion and mind to flow unrestricted placing the emphasis more on noticing how all phenomena come and go and form no stable ground. Important to note, in this phase, the only way to really grok the uiniversal qualities of empty impermanence in phenomena is to be totally present in the actual content (this thought, this specific emotional reaction, this specific constellation of unpleasent sensations in the chest, etc.).

And when I'm practicing this way regularly, then during my daily walking around interacting life it tends to result in a kind of paradoxical increase in calmness and non-compulsivity mized with greater spontaneity and authenticity in my reactions and affect (i.e, I'm more animated and engaged even while I'm more laid back and flexible).

So again I think there are lots of ways to approach this whole thing depending on what you aim to get out of it.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/25/16 6:09 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
This is interesting! I thought the jhana people would be more "head-in-the-clouds". I'd like to see something similiar comparing people using visualisation techniques vs meditating on "real" things. I wonder for example why visualisation is such a big deal in almost all mystical traditions compared to in theravada where you only find simplistic visualisations in some samatha contexts. 

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/26/16 12:55 AM as a reply to Pål.
Zen mostly, and body awareness.

Thanks for everyone's input.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/26/16 3:14 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Thanks for raising this topic C C C.
Two people who I think have deep insights told me recently that they lost part of the intensity of their emotions. One of them is a good friend who in the past has been one of the happiest persons I know. Much along the lines of what Jake and Stirling Campbell describe, he would just enjoy life and the small things in it. He actually describes his current experience as dispassion rather than dissociation. (Although, personally, I was wondering about the dissociative effect of working with the inner witness and of distancing oneself from emotions through vipassana.) Although he is fine with the current experience - as  he is with basically everything - he says that he wouldn´t have chosen for this dispassion, if he had known before that this would happen. Still remains to be seen if this will change again.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/26/16 3:20 PM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Mahayana allows for a full range of using your brain. I think that there are Theravada types out there (like Daniel) that tweak the practice to keep emotions. Emotions don't hurt very much when you already have lots of stress relief and then you can enjoy emotions in healthy ways as long as you keep skillfulness in your intentions.


Could you describe in more detail how Mahayana practices allow for a fuller range of using one´s brain? And what Daniel would do to keep emotions?
Thanks!

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/26/16 6:00 PM as a reply to Caro.
I was thinking last night that Life doesn't care about individual happiness.  That's clearly not its concern.  It cares about survival, achievement and reproduction.  That's why we are created with minds that grasp and reject.  We are created to strive and struggle for good feelings and avoid the bad feelings.

The Taoists talk about being in tune with Life.  If I was in tune with Life, I'd simply obey its directive to conquer and achieve.  To sit still and watch my breath would be to go against the flow of Life.

I find it helpful to argue the other side.  Sometimes it makes much more sense.  Actually I move between the two.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 1:10 AM as a reply to Caro.
One additional point:
I just read about Kenneth Folk´s 9 stages of enlightenment (http://web.archive.org/web/20130116164653/http://kennethfolkdharma.wetpaint.com/page/A+9+Stage+Map+of+Developmental+Enlightenment) as the link was just posted in another post., Here it says "Stage 6: Emotional transformation. Marked attenuation of feelings. (See Damasio’s Looking for Spinoza for the distinction between emotions and feelings. Feelings are the  subjective component of emotions. Emotions can and do carry on without the corresponding feelings, as emotions and feelings happen in different parts of the brain.) Practitioner may still display full range of  emotions as observed by others while reporting only contentment,  well-being, acceptance, etc. This new emotional stability sets the stage for..."

The process he describes here doesn´t seem quite right to me. Why would there be a need for this kind of emotional stability? What is wrong with being sad, with being angry, with being touched by something as long as one doesn´t create a self-perpetuating story about "my anger", "my sadness" out of these emotions...?

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 1:16 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Now you argue from a point of view where you assume you know what "Life" cares about, i.e. survival, achievement and reproduction. Seems pretty much in line with a Western, Darwinistic, homo economicus point of view. Sure, our minds like to grasp and reject. But maybe there are deeper layers where different "truths" apply and maybe there is different mechanisms in human life than survival and reproduction if one is open to look for them.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 1:34 AM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:

The process he describes here doesn´t seem quite right to me. Why would there be a need for this kind of emotional stability? What is wrong with being sad, with being angry, with being touched by something as long as one doesn´t create a self-perpetuating story about "my anger", "my sadness" out of these emotions...?


The way I see it, it just is what it is.  Its what direct mode leads to.  I only know two people who had shifts into Kenneth's higher stages that have stuck for at least 3 years.  Kenneth seems to describe that his own shifts (along this particular track) did not stick.  But yeah, just a certain practice leading to a certain result.  Tarin's quote comes to mind- "you get what you optimize for."

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 1:56 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I was thinking last night that Life doesn't care about individual happiness.  That's clearly not its concern.  It cares about survival, achievement and reproduction.  That's why we are created with minds that grasp and reject.  We are created to strive and struggle for good feelings and avoid the bad feelings.

The Taoists talk about being in tune with Life.  If I was in tune with Life, I'd simply obey its directive to conquer and achieve.  To sit still and watch my breath would be to go against the flow of Life.

I find it helpful to argue the other side.  Sometimes it makes much more sense.  Actually I move between the two.

This is all from an individual point of view though. And the "I that moves between the two" is merely a mental idea.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 2:27 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:

The way I see it, it just is what it is.  Its what direct mode leads to.  I only know two people who had shifts into Kenneth's higher stages that have stuck for at least 3 years.  Kenneth seems to describe that his own shifts (along this particular track) did not stick.  But yeah, just a certain practice leading to a certain result.  Tarin's quote comes to mind- "you get what you optimize for."

My friend has been practicing mostly on its own, completely unrelated to Kenneth Folk´s teachings, but he may be doing something similar. I guess the "You get what you optimize for" is quite right. And maybe that´s what´s bothering me. By taking meditation practices out of their traditional context and adapting them to Western life and understanding of life, one may unknowingly be optimizing for states that one never wanted to optimize for...

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 5:38 AM as a reply to Monsoon Frog.

re: Monsoon Frog (3/24/16 12:53 AM as a reply to C C C.)

"…One question that's been in my head since I began practising is will the practice kill the art. Passion can drive art; if one looks into the etymology of the word passion it's from 'pati', which is Latin for suffer ; )"

The meaning a bit broader: to suffer, to endure, and to be patient – an overall sense of going through something, subjected to something, sort of "passively". A "passion" takes you over, out of control. Going back through etymological layers, Greek, to PIE ("proto-Indo-European"), there is a sense of the situation being not too good: associated words having to to with unfortunate… pain… punishment… harm…

Also seen in the old English Biblicalt ranslation: "Suffer the little children come to me", i.e. allow, let it be, so to speak. The "Passion of Christ" refers to what he had to go through, having accepted it as "God's will".

Also perhaps a double meaning, as in a medical "patient" – at the mercy of the medical condition (and perhaps at the mercy of the
medical system. emoticon ).

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 5:43 AM as a reply to Pål.
Pål:
This is interesting! I thought the jhana people would be more "head-in-the-clouds". I'd like to see something similiar comparing people using visualisation techniques vs meditating on "real" things. I wonder for example why visualisation is such a big deal in almost all mystical traditions compared to in theravada where you only find simplistic visualisations in some samatha contexts. 
I second that. A curious related area, and whether eyes open or closed: Where in general Therevada instructions it seems to be eyes-closed in meditation, in Taoist forms (often otherwise closely related), it's said to keep eyes open, but sort of non-focused, towards the floor a couple of feet ahead.

Also in the Chinese area, masters / teachers of the medical pulse-reading diagnostic method recommend eyes NOT closed, but using that similar not focusedness (not engaging or reacting to visual stimuli). One teacher explained it as avoiding the mind going-off into visual mental fantasies, but rather keeping "present" to the perception of the pulse qualities. Informally one might say "absorbed", but not like in jhana samadhi; it's khanika samadhi, the mind moving with the object, but also not vipassana, as the object is not the mind's own behavior.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 8:23 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
But then many Taoist methods involve a lot of visualisation, sometimes combined with spells, resembling western ceremonial Magick and tantra. Btw Ajahn Buddhadasa recommends eyes open.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/27/16 1:39 PM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:

By taking meditation practices out of their traditional context and adapting them to Western life and understanding of life, one may unknowingly be optimizing for states that one never wanted to optimize for...


If it helps, your friend sounds like a very rare case.  How long has he had this shift for?  Perhaps it could fade, even after 6 months or more, who knows...  Are your concerns at a more general level, or are you worried that this might happen to you?

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/28/16 1:20 PM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:
Richard Zen:
Mahayana allows for a full range of using your brain. I think that there are Theravada types out there (like Daniel) that tweak the practice to keep emotions. Emotions don't hurt very much when you already have lots of stress relief and then you can enjoy emotions in healthy ways as long as you keep skillfulness in your intentions.


Could you describe in more detail how Mahayana practices allow for a fuller range of using one´s brain? And what Daniel would do to keep emotions?
Thanks!
Daniel's situation is a little unique because of his AF practice and you read about it on his interactivebuddha website.

Rob Burbea said that people often feel like they are weaning too much and losing the sense of self when they go too Theravada and only stay in the present moment (I'm sure there are variations here) and simply allowing some emotions via Welcoming/Allowing/Inviting can make life more juicy. It's very easy to repress emotions when meditating but seeing how they are impermanent means you don't have to fight with them all the time. Let emotions be and they will let go on their own if you don't indulge in too much fantasy or bashing the emotions away.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/30/16 10:16 AM as a reply to Small Steps.
The default mode network is supposed to deactivate during certain cognitive tasks (completely unrelated to meditation). I don't think those result in delirious bliss either.

This isn't the conclusion I've reached based on my reading and experience. There is a lot of material out there regarding the default network and meditation, for example:

http://psychologytomorrowmagazine.com/jeff-warren-neuroscience-suffering-end/

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/31/16 8:54 AM as a reply to Noah.
Noah:
Caro:

By taking meditation practices out of their traditional context and adapting them to Western life and understanding of life, one may unknowingly be optimizing for states that one never wanted to optimize for...


If it helps, your friend sounds like a very rare case.  How long has he had this shift for?  Perhaps it could fade, even after 6 months or more, who knows...  Are your concerns at a more general level, or are you worried that this might happen to you?

I guess it has been a couple of weeks that my friend´s feelings seem to be gone. And yes, the concerns are mostly about myself ;) - with most of what he has been telling me in the past, I had to agree at some point that he was right all along. However, this latest development just doesn´t seem very desirable...

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/31/16 8:57 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Caro:
Richard Zen:
Mahayana allows for a full range of using your brain. I think that there are Theravada types out there (like Daniel) that tweak the practice to keep emotions. Emotions don't hurt very much when you already have lots of stress relief and then you can enjoy emotions in healthy ways as long as you keep skillfulness in your intentions.


Could you describe in more detail how Mahayana practices allow for a fuller range of using one´s brain? And what Daniel would do to keep emotions?
Thanks!
Daniel's situation is a little unique because of his AF practice and you read about it on his interactivebuddha website.

Rob Burbea said that people often feel like they are weaning too much and losing the sense of self when they go too Theravada and only stay in the present moment (I'm sure there are variations here) and simply allowing some emotions via Welcoming/Allowing/Inviting can make life more juicy. It's very easy to repress emotions when meditating but seeing how they are impermanent means you don't have to fight with them all the time. Let emotions be and they will let go on their own if you don't indulge in too much fantasy or bashing the emotions away.
Thanks for the reply!
Personally, I´m not so sure about AF - doesn´t seem like a very natural way to feel and express a full range of emotions.
I also don´t think that Vipassana equals repressing emotions, or that there is necesarily a contradiction between being in the present moment and "welcoming" emotions. So I´m not quite sure I understand what you mean.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/31/16 10:03 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
My take on this issue is this:

From the first AP and then at SE you see or find something very important.

From this moment on, you are mostly trying to solve the problem that was laid out then.
My experience is that I don't feel mostly like "myself" during paths.
In fact, I do feel like myself at High EQ and certainly at the end of path (fruition). Every fruition I have experienced has this "release" or "its done" thing.

Eventually, whatever endeavour or hobbies you take on this life, you are sucked into them.

Some analogy here.
When I ended my university studies, I felt a huge release that had been building for some years. It was an unfinished business that took a lot of time, focus, effort, etc. And then the ego holds on to your exams results, how well you are doing compared to you classmates, etc...
I guess it happens the same if you start your own company.

Being near to a person that is trying to get something important done can suck.

Hope it helps.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/31/16 11:15 AM as a reply to C P M.
C P M:
The default mode network is supposed to deactivate during certain cognitive tasks (completely unrelated to meditation). I don't think those result in delirious bliss either.

This isn't the conclusion I've reached based on my reading and experience. There is a lot of material out there regarding the default network and meditation, for example:

http://psychologytomorrowmagazine.com/jeff-warren-neuroscience-suffering-end/
Based on the interviews I've read and heard with Gary Weber (referenced in the article), I don't think he describes his default state as being "deliriously blissful."

These days I'm of the mind that the "end of suffering" doesn't require one to be blotto blissed out, and the pursuit of such may just lead to dead ends. I just don't see how one can be in one extreme or another and be a functional human in the world.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
3/31/16 6:25 PM as a reply to Caro.
Caro:
Richard Zen:
Caro:
Richard Zen:
Mahayana allows for a full range of using your brain. I think that there are Theravada types out there (like Daniel) that tweak the practice to keep emotions. Emotions don't hurt very much when you already have lots of stress relief and then you can enjoy emotions in healthy ways as long as you keep skillfulness in your intentions.


Could you describe in more detail how Mahayana practices allow for a fuller range of using one´s brain? And what Daniel would do to keep emotions?
Thanks!
Daniel's situation is a little unique because of his AF practice and you read about it on his interactivebuddha website.

Rob Burbea said that people often feel like they are weaning too much and losing the sense of self when they go too Theravada and only stay in the present moment (I'm sure there are variations here) and simply allowing some emotions via Welcoming/Allowing/Inviting can make life more juicy. It's very easy to repress emotions when meditating but seeing how they are impermanent means you don't have to fight with them all the time. Let emotions be and they will let go on their own if you don't indulge in too much fantasy or bashing the emotions away.
Thanks for the reply!
Personally, I´m not so sure about AF - doesn´t seem like a very natural way to feel and express a full range of emotions.
I also don´t think that Vipassana equals repressing emotions, or that there is necesarily a contradiction between being in the present moment and "welcoming" emotions. So I´m not quite sure I understand what you mean.

Welcoming is to try and notice fight or flight responses that are being ignored. Many people repress emotions with vipassana so if you have a much better practice that is more sophisticated then you don't need it. To me the welcoming practice is needed less and less but I did it for probably two years and it did it's effect beautifully. Each meditator has their particular hangups.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/2/16 5:38 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
I was thinking last night that Life doesn't care about individual happiness.  That's clearly not its concern.  It cares about survival, achievement and reproduction.  That's why we are created with minds that grasp and reject.  We are created to strive and struggle for good feelings and avoid the bad feelings.

The Taoists talk about being in tune with Life.  If I was in tune with Life, I'd simply obey its directive to conquer and achieve.  To sit still and watch my breath would be to go against the flow of Life.

I find it helpful to argue the other side.  Sometimes it makes much more sense.  Actually I move between the two.

Different self-help (and I include Buddhism, Actualism, Stoicism as self-help) schools have different fundamental models of how the world works and how we work within that world. I'm going to make up some examples to illustrate my point.

Lazy stoicism: The Lazy Stoics (lZ's) don't think we struggle for good feelings and avoid bad feelings. They think we avoid the things that the feelings point to as bad, and we go after the things that feelings point to as good. The LZ's contend that we get in a mess because we miss this point. So the LZ's don't want to get rid of bad feelings, but by understanding the significance of them, you're naturally going to feel better because you don't have any ongoing problems. You can have the full emotional range but you're never stuck.

The not-actualists: The NA's are a heretical branch of the lazy Stoics. They agree with the LZ's up to a point yet they don't think the LZ' go far enough. Since we are human and everything is channelled through our logic bits, then why have emotions at all. After all, emotions might be an important signal but they still suck when you're feeling them. Clearly seeing that there's no need for these signals allows one to be free of them. If you practice the NA path you'll soon get actual experiential verification that no emotions feels better than having emotions. At which point it's a no-brainer that you'd elect to have that freedom as your goal. From this perspective the Lazy-stoicists are kind of mad.

The gruff hillfolk: The gruff hillfolk think life is pain and suffering. What's worse, is that out desire for deliverance, our need for relief, makes the pain that much worse. Fear is tolerable, fear and the deep desire to be free of the fear isn't. So in the path of the Gruff Hillfolk, you eliminate the desire for deliverance. Things might be terrible, but the terribleness isn't amplified by the need to make things better.

Depending on your view of the function of emotions, the nature of the world and how it really works and so on, you'll find one of these schools more compelling than the rest. That's three different enlightenments based on three different criteria of 'how things actually are.'

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/3/16 2:54 AM as a reply to Richard Zen.
Richard Zen:
Welcoming is to try and notice fight or flight responses that are being ignored. Many people repress emotions with vipassana so if you have a much better practice that is more sophisticated then you don't need it. To me the welcoming practice is needed less and less but I did it for probably two years and it did it's effect beautifully. Each meditator has their particular hangups.


Ok, I think I now understand better what you mean . Thanks!

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/3/16 10:00 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Dissociation is not enlightenment.

For an example you do meditation in order to see samskaras, the impulses what try to set you into movement. But in order to see them you need to cultivate matter/activity to have feelings come out. It takes effort and good place/playground. 

Cultivate breath to have movement in your body, hold it and dont spend it or waste it, it comes overwhelming so you will rage, anger, irritate easy it feels like continous suffering everything what is in disorder will produce a friction and desire to spout out your momentum.

Anger and irritability is done when you reach the bottom of your belly. It comes natural as breathing through lungs but a lot longer circle, it will be a part of the life, hopefully coming pleasant as breathing fresh air.

That means fetters model is correct, your own power and knowledge can eliminate pain and discomfort and eventually you don't have to breath air.

So if he needs to breath air he still have lot of work to do.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/3/16 7:36 PM as a reply to Alexander Entelechy.
Alexander Entelechy:


Depending on your view of the function of emotions, the nature of the world and how it really works and so on, you'll find one of these schools more compelling than the rest. That's three different enlightenments based on three different criteria of 'how things actually are.'

Thanks Alex.

I have this thing where painful emotions   just    do    not    diminish   when watched non-judgmentally.  Any suggestions please?  Is this a faulty method?

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/4/16 7:09 AM as a reply to Caro.
re: Caro (3/27/16 1:10 AM as a reply to Caro)

Quotation from Kenneth Folk: "(See Damasio’s Looking for Spinoza for the distinction between emotions and feelings. Feelings are the  subjective component of emotions. Emotions can and do carry on without the corresponding feelings, as emotions and feelings happen in different parts of the brain.)"

Probably better to recommend Damasio's Self Comes To Mind – Constructing the Conscious Brain (2010), where he refines and consolidates the ideas from his earlier books, e.g. Looking for Spinoza. Damasio's description of "emotion" is virtually identical to Therevadan 'vedana', aka 'feeling-tone', or "bare" attraction / aversion / neutrality. That is, as present in living beings from the most primitive level – the amoeba following certain chemical signals (it might be food) or avoiding certain others (it might sense me as food). Latin "e(x)-motio" – "movement from" a given position or state, i.e. reaction. Damasio's "feelings" are then like sankhata, so to speak, complex mental fabrications, triggered by the "emotion" of sensations.

Beyond that, Damasio's book I found fascinating – not just the hypethetical neuro-modelling of conscousness he explores, but also the degree to which many ideas there align with Abhidhamma analysis of mental behavior -- the latter which could be sub-title "Deconstructing Lived Consciousness".

"What is wrong with being sad, with being angry, with being touched by something as long as one doesn´t create a self-perpetuating story about "my anger", "my sadness" out of these emotions...?"
Depends of what is understood by "being", what degree of becoming, identifying with those states / processes. 1) They are stressful, distract and consume energy; 2) entertaining them risks clouding, deluding consciousness.

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/4/16 7:14 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
re: C C C (3/26/16 6:00 PM as a reply to Caro)

"The Taoists talk about being in tune with Life.  If I was in tune with Life, I'd simply obey its directive to conquer and achieve.
That doesn't sound quite right. The DaoDeJing (LaoTse's book, foundation of Daoism), and general Daoist writing speaks of "being in tune", so to speak, with the Dao, which is some sort of unspeakable root or basis behind all things. This might be compared with "nibbana" , though I wouldn't push that too hard. The manifestation of all things (the "De" part of "DaoDeJing") is more like "samsara", or the big mess of all things as they unfold (conditioning). Aside from the possibly dubious comparison, the tenor of the DaoDeJing is definitely NOT along the lines of "conquer and achieve". Rather, to employ another cultural-historical comparison, the Western prototypical attitude is more along these lines – the individualistic hero Heracles conquering all obstacles by sheer will-power. The Chinese (Daoist as well as Confucian) attitude hasmore to do with observing the flow of things, and easing oneself into the right position ("right people, right time, right place") such it appears things go beneficially, the way one wants.

"To sit still and watch my breath would be to go against the flow of Life.
"
Meditation of that sort (technically more of Buddhist origin but historically assimilated by both Daoism and (neo-) Confucianism) might be seen as going against the flow of social-political "Life". Daoism associates more with nature – the flow of life not contorted by human schemes. Whereas Confucianism concerns itself more with beneficial regulation of human affairs (relationships rooted in the family, extended to the state and the entire universe).

The odd twist is that in practice, the Chinese model has often been to behave along Confucian lines in terms of education and conducting one's "productive" periods of life – shaping a profession, raising a family, etc. Then, all that done, one retires ("retirement") to the family country estate (or a monastery) and communes with nature, cultivates one's own mind along lines of insight and tranquility rather than towards social conformity and duty, Daoist behavior befits more end-of-life, release, realization of what it all means.

Buddhist derived meditation actuallygets worked both ways. Post-buddhist Daoism practices things likeanapanasati samadhi geared towards release. Post-buddhistConfucianism (e.g. as in the Song-dynasty commentaries on KungZi's /Confuscius' writings) incorporates the same method, but gearedtowards perfecting the person to be a more ideal family member andpublic servant.

P.S. Compare the questions Caro poses (3/27/16 1:16 AM as a reply to C C C).

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/5/16 8:13 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
[quote=Chris J Macie]
Probably better to recommend Damasio's Self Comes To Mind – Constructing the Conscious Brain (2010), where he refines and consolidates the ideas from his earlier books, e.g. Looking for Spinoza.
...
"What is wrong with being sad, with being angry, with being touched by something as long as one doesn´t create a self-perpetuating story about "my anger", "my sadness" out of these emotions...?"
Depends of what is understood by "being", what degree of becoming, identifying with those states / processes. 1) They are stressful, distract and consume energy; 2) entertaining them risks clouding, deluding consciousness.


Sounds like an interesting book - I´ll try to look into that.

I´ve thought a lot about that question recently. I guess what I understand with "being" is reacting to what happens in "my world" in a "human way". Feeling sadness when somebody dies who has been close to me, feeling compassion when I see how others suffer, feeling anger when I see injustice, feeling joy and gratitude for the beauty of life. Something like "raw or bare" emotions. I am aware that it´s difficult to distinguish where that initial reaction ends and where the identification (or feeling as you may call it) starts. And, yes, I guess this does consume energy. But does it distract and delude consciousness? Not sure. As long as one can hold in awareness the more absolute view of reality that ultimately none of this really matters, whilst at the same time expressing ones emotional humanity so to say. To me that seems to be an ideal model of being awakened. Not sure how much that´s inline with the Theravada suttas, though...

RE: Enlightenment as Dissociation?
Answer
4/5/16 9:02 PM as a reply to Caro.
re: Caro (4/5/16 8:13 AM as a reply to Chris J Macie)

"Sounds like an interesting book - I´ll try to look into that."
Damasio appeals to me because he's also broadly educated, cites also a range of cultural-historical issues as well as hard science; and in terms of the science, he's been in the trenches of cutting-edge research for 40 years or so.

"…feeling compassion when I see how others suffer, feeling anger when I see injustice, feeling joy and gratitude for the beauty of life… But does it distract and delude consciousness? "
Yes, is relative to the model of "awakening". Theravada, as I understand it, encourages kicking-in the "equanimity" perspective as soon as possible, i.e. make space for clear view of how the energy is being used, and potentially discernment of optimum practical response, if any. And Mahayana seems to lean towards a bodhisattva sense of responsibility to get involved.