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Science based mystical experience
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3/28/16 4:20 PM
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I have been listening to a lot of Alan Watts talks on youtube and reading Buddhist sutras. I started back into mediation after a long time away from it until I read Sam Harris' "Waking Up".  When he discussed the technique of watching your thoughts and of the uncovering of non-self, I realized that he was experiencing an induced sense of self disassociation.  It seemed similar to a therapeutic technique named '3 person disassociation'.  For people who've had traumatic experiences, it seems to help.  What one does is recall the traumatic event, then watch yourself experiencing the event, then watch yourself watching yourself experience the event.  In this way, you remove yourself so you are no longer in direct contact with the event.  It seemed to me that this is exactly what's going on when you start to watch your thoughts and emotions - no wonder people report a sense that there is no one there.   So when I sat down to meditate, I couldn't help but feel like I was disassociating myself from myself instead of trying to reach some true understanding of the world.  Then I thought about a line of Alan Watts': "You don't come into the world, you come out of it".   Another time he said that the universe "peoples" in the same way that an apple tree "apples".   Then I thought about the implications of that along with the science that we've uncovered: evolution, the way our biology works, that the chemicals in our body came from a supernova, that we live by breathing in air which others have exhaled, that we live on the things which are part of the earth like us - we have emerged out of this universe.  I came to think of myself as 'embedded' in the world and not a separate entity.  When I took all these facts into account, I felt part of everything around me.  I had this expansive experience.  My body trembled.  I felt like I was intoxicated.  I began to understand the notion of what the TAO is -- the direct experience with reality.  Koans started making sense.  I have several images of what I am: a bud at the tip of a tree branch (emerging from the base of Being), a whirlpool (both a unique self and yet embedded the in Being (the water), as a ghost-like, gossamer  creature where the life force blows through me as I flap in the wind (act in the world).  This experience focuses me on the current moment, relaxes me and eliminates fear.  But I realized that "embeddedness" doesn't do much else.  I"m not sure where to go with this.  I don't, for example, feel any more compassion for the other beings in the world than I did before.  I have not received any jump in wisdom.  I only understand now the truth of the world and my connection to it and how to experience that connection.  Is there something else I should be doing with this understanding?  With this experience?

clem

RE: Science based mystical experience
Answer
3/28/16 5:53 PM as a reply to clem padin.
Hello Clem, welcome to the forum.

Do you meditate? If yes, what are your goals? What techniques are you using to achieve those goals?

RE: Science based mystical experience
Answer
3/29/16 4:39 PM as a reply to neko.
Hi

 Thanks you!

 I don't currently have a meditation practice.  I don't really want to do sitting meditation.  I feel like it takes me away from the world and into myself.  I find that with my eyes open, walking, listening, feeling, emersed in the world, that that is where I can experience direct connecton to Reality.  When I sit, close my eyes, focus on my thoughts, I leave the world.  Feeling 'embedded', I am simultaneously singular and a part of the whole. 

  I don't currently have a goal.  I'm not really sure what my goal should be.

Clem

RE: Science based mystical experience
Answer
3/29/16 5:09 PM as a reply to clem padin.
clem padin:

When I sit, close my eyes, focus on my thoughts, I leave the world.

Where did you get the instruction to "focus on your thoughts and leave the world"? It is new to me and it does not match any meditation instruction from any tradition that I know of. This being said, I am far from a living encyclopedia on meditation.

RE: Science based mystical experience
Answer
3/30/16 4:03 PM as a reply to neko.
I've read about several instructions.  For example, sit and watch your thoughts.  Don't engage with them.  But if you find yourself following one, gently come back and focus on them as they come and go.  That's one instruction I've heard of.  Another is to pay attention to your breath.   Another is to repeat a mantra.   Another is to focus on some object in front of you.  Another is to imagine an object, say the statue of the Buddha before you and concentrate on that.  These instructions take me away from the world.  Some into myself and some focused on something outside myself.  For me, I need sights and sounds and textures, smells and tastes to remind me of the connection I have to the world.  It seems that for me silence and solitude are a withdrawl.  For me, I feel most present now, writing this to you.

Clem

RE: Science based mystical experience
Answer
3/30/16 6:59 PM as a reply to clem padin.
Once you start to explore what makes up 'you,' strange and mystical experiences are not uncommon.  IMO, each teaches you a bit and leaves its mark on you but the overall process is one of fits and starts, grand moments mixed with backtracking and integration and reintegration and restabilization.  One mystical experience is just one part of a long path, which is good news because it can get more interesting from here if you let it.  ;-P  But the path is much more a marathon than a 100 yard dash with many many loops around the track.  

Some feel very strongly that established paths and teachers are more effective, but as you have seen, doing what seems interesting to you can also be effective.  My personal opinion is that long term stamina is the main ingredient needed along with ability and willingness to authentically look inside self with honesty to identify and let go of things holding you back.
-Eva  

RE: Science based mystical experience
Answer
3/31/16 3:28 AM as a reply to clem padin.
clem padin:

For me, I need sights and sounds and textures, smells and tastes to remind me of the connection I have to the world.  

Ok, then here is a practice for you.
  1. Sit down. Observe sights and sounds and smells and taste arise and pass away in your sensory field. Do they have a support in time? Are they solid and existent? What you perceive, are they the objects themselves, or constructs of your mind? If they are constructs of your mind are they made up of their own materials, or are they made up of mind itself? When you perceive them, where is the awareness? Where is the observer. Try to look into these questions experientially, not discursively. Look.
  2. Repeat the practice while taking a walk outside.
  3. Repeat the practice while reading a book.
  4. Repeat the practice while watching a movie.
  5. Repeat the practice while chatting with a friend
  6. Make the practice continuous throughout all your daily activities.
How does this sound? emoticon